Not as diverse as they should be

Source: The Campaign for College Opportunity, "Left Out: How Exclusion in California's Colleges and Universities Hurts Our Values, Our Students, and Our Economy," March 2018.

Racial and gender diversity among leaders and faculty at California’s public colleges and universities — including the state’s 114 community colleges — doesn’t reflect the diversity of their students, especially among Latinos, according to a new report.

Among California community colleges, “Latinx” — a gender neutral term often used in lieu of Latino or Latina — comprise 44 percent of the student body, yet 17 percent of senior leaders, about 15 percent of faculty and 14 percent of academic senators are Latinx, according to the study by the Campaign for College Opportunity. Conversely, whites make up 27 percent of community college enrollments in the state, but 59 percent of senior leaders at the colleges are white, and more than 70 percent of academic senators are white. Whites also comprise about 60 percent of tenured and non-tenured faculty at the colleges.

Diversity among college administrators and instructors is important in efforts to improve student success and strengthen local and state economies, according to the report. Diversity advocates note that students engage more in their education experience when they see staff, faculty, administrators and others who look like them and share their experiences.

“The findings of this report are not about demographics, they are about helping our education leaders and state policymakers understand that this issue of a lack of diversity is tied to student success,” said Paul Granillo, president and CEO of the Inland Economic Partnership.

Bright spots, but….

Community colleges fare a little better in some areas the report examined than the state’s two public four-year systems. It highlights among the “bright spots” the hiring of Eloy Ortiz-Oakley in 2016 as the first Latinx chancellor of the California Community Colleges System. Also, public two-year colleges in the state have a growing and nearly equitable number of women college presidents. Of the 114 presidents at community colleges, 50 are women.

African-American leadership among California community colleges is proportional to African-American student enrollment. However, only 3,200 (5 percent) of the nearly 60,000 tenured and non-tenured faculty members are African-American.

Asian-American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) students represent about 14 percent of the community college student body in California, compared to 40 percent at the University of California system and 18 percent at the California State University system. Yet 9 percent of senior leadership positions at community colleges are held by AAHNPI professionals, and 26 (6 percent) of the state’s 448 community college district trustees are AANHPIs. No AANHPIs held positions on the Community College Board of Governors or on statewide academic senates in the 2016-17 academic year. Representation among tenured and non-tenured faculty fare better at 10 percent.

A priority for campuses

The report calls on state and college leaders to prioritize and set goals for improving the number of racially and gender diverse college leaders and faculty. For example, it says the governor should ensure that his appointments to the three system’s governing boards better reflect the diversity in the state and include more women. The report also recommends collecting data disaggregated by race, ethnicity and gender for campus leadership and academic senates and for a review of hiring practices.

College presidents and senior leaders should develop clear pathways to leadership and invest in leadership development opportunities to create a pipeline of staff from underrepresented groups to enter those positions, the report added.

The study’s funders include the Angell Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, California Wellness Foundation, College Futures Foundation, ECMC Foundation, Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund, James Irvine Foundation and Kresge Foundation.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily.