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“My Professor Isn’t Black”


Joshua Manning

Staff Writer

February was Black History Month and there were reminders all over campus, but there were very few in the classroom. This is partly due to the fact there are very few African-American pro­fessors at LIU Post. According to the LIU Office of Institutional Research, the diversity of LIU Post students is as follows: 62 percent White; 12 percent Black, Non-His­panic; 13 percent Asian/Pacific Is­lander; 13 percent Hispanic. With such a diverse student population, one question comes to mind: Is the same diversity evident among faculty members?

From the viewpoint of many students, the answer to that ques­tion is no. Few students, other than those who have taken classes in either the music or dance de­partments, can say that they have had an African-American profes­sor during their time at Post. A January graduate from the Music Education program, Christina Montalto stated, “I have to say there are a lot of ethnic profes­sors…. other than white and black. But yeah, outside of the Music department, I don’t think I had any black Professors.”

Junior Adolescence Educa­tion major, Tynesha Jones, seems to be an exception to this rule. She has had two African profes­sors, one for Psychology and another for an Education class. When asked if she thought that African-Americans were under­represented on our faculty, she responded, “Yes, I do think so.”

Senior Public Relations ma­jor, Brittany Scelza, agreed with Jones. Although neither the Uni­versity nor the C.W. Post Collegial Federation, which is the union for LIU Post faculty members, would provide the Pioneer with the number of Black professors at Post, Scelza offered an interesting perspective concerning the num­ber African-American professors on campus. “If you think about it, we probably have somewhere near forty professors during our four years at LIU Post,” she said. “I’ve only had three black profes­sors and two of them are no lon­ger working there.” According to Scelza’s account, African-Ameri­can professors have accounted for 7.5 percent of her in-class experi­ence at Post. In her case, at least, that 7.5 percent is not equal to the 12 percent of the student popula­tion that is “black.”

In its Equal Employment Opportunity Policy, Long Island University declares that it is committed to, “equal opportu­nity in employment and to the opportunity for advancement of all qualified individuals with­out discrimination due to race, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, veteran status, disability, marital status or citizenship.” So why is it that certain students experience the complete opposite? Is there failure on the part of the Univer­sity to hire these individuals? Or are there not enough of them out there in the hiring pool of schol­ars to choose from? And if in fact they are out there, is LIU Post an attractive destination for them?

When presented with these tough questions, numerous faculty members and administrators directed the Pioneer to Rita Lang­don, Post’s Associate Provost of Communications, Public Relations & Marketing. Langdon did not provide any statistics about the ethnicity of the faculty at LIU Post. However, Langdon did issue an official statement about the Uni­versity’s hiring practices on behalf of Dr. Jeffrey Kane, Vice President of Academic Affairs for LIU.

In his statement, Kane mentioned that, “Increasing the diversity of faculty is a joint re­sponsibility of the faculty them­selves, the academic deans and the University.” He also stated that it is primarily the faculty’s duty to conduct searches for new faculty members. Amidst teach­ing classes, conducting their own research, and sharing that research with their peers, current faculty members are expected to go searching for new faculty members. How much time can they truly dedicate to searching for new faculty members who aren’t already a part of their so­cial circles?

Dr. Barbara Fowles, Chair­person for the Department of Media Arts, commented on the matter. “I think that the people in the University administration would like to have more minor­ity group members on the faculty and in university administration, but sometimes in order to expand the faculty in these directions, a little flexibility in evaluating their resumes is needed, and that seems to be a stumbling block here.”

Dr. Fowles suggested solu­tion seems to have some merit. In order to become a full-time tenured professor at LIU Post, one must obtain a doctoral degree in his/ her respective field. Accord­ing to data collected from the Sur­vey of Earned Doctorates, which is a federal survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Cen­ter, African Americans accounted for about four percent of all doc­toral degrees earned in the United States during the year 2011.

In compliance with Univer­sity requirements, there are very few qualified African American candidates to choose from. But, does being an expert in a particu­lar field of study automatically mean that an individual is an effective educator? Could there be a case made for “under-qualified” individuals as effective educators?

Once again, Scelza, thought so. During her time at Post, Scel­za has had three black professors, two of whom no longer work at the school. One of the two profes­sors that Scelza was referring to is Dorothy Reed, who she claimed to be, “hands down the most influential and caring teacher I’ve (ever) had.” Reed, who is Black, used to head the Journalism pro­gram, but left the University after being denied tenure. After much research, the Pioneer learned that Reed was not denied tenure purely because of her ethnicity, but rather because she failed to obtain a PhD within the allotted time. When contacted for more information on the matter, Reed declined to comment.

LIU remains committed to, “equal opportunity in employ­ment and to the opportunity for advancement of all qualified in­dividuals,” according to its Equal Opportunity Employment Policy. The more pressing question here seems to be: Has an attempt to recruit some of academia’s most decorated scholars snubbed some of this generation’s most influen­tial educators, hurting students in the process?

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