Achieving Administrator Diversity. ERIC Digest.
by Foote, Elizabeth
Community colleges are enrolling significant numbers of students from
Latino, African American, and Asian American backgrounds. However, community
colleges have not achieved the same degree of diversity among their leaders
as they have among their students; administrators have remained predominately
white. One of the key challenges facing these institutions in the 1990s
is the development of leadership that represents the diversity of these
schools' students and local constituents.
Based on the publication, "Achieving Administrative Diversity, New Directions
for Community Colleges, Number 94," this digest reviews the current status
of minority administrators, describes pathways to administration for minorities,
discusses steps community colleges can take to improve minority administrator
recruitment and retention, and offers resource programs and organizations.
STATUS OF MINORITY ADMINISTRATORS
In a 1991 survey of 1,097 community college presidents, Vaughan (1996)
found that 89% were white, 4.5% were African American, 3% were Latino,
1.8% were Native American, and 1.7% belonged to other minority groups,
including Asian American. He also found that there were few minorities
on the traditional path to the presidency; 57% of all community college
presidents had been a chief academic officer before becoming president
while only 7% of all chief academic officers were minorities. Furthermore,
there were few minorities in the teaching ranks; in 1990 only 10% of all
full-time community college faculty were minorities.
Why is there a lag in minority representation? According to Phelps and
Taber (1996), there are several reasons: weak or indifferent recruitment
practices, lack of commitment to diversity, lack of training programs,
and institutional racism. Moreover, the majority of community colleges
are located in predominately white suburban and rural areas.
PATHWAYS TO ADMINISTRATION FOR MINORITIES
There is no single pathway to administration. Two current minority administrators
who wrote for this volume "accidentally" found themselves in leadership
roles. Bowen (1996) was an assistant professor of biology when, during
the unrest of 1968, students requested an African American administrator
on campus. He was asked to become the Special Assistant to the President
for Minority Affairs. Similarly, in the late 1960s Cortada (1996) was teaching
and researching medieval and modern European history when he was asked
to join the Associate Provost's office. As Cortada observes, "the next
generation will have to structure their careers more deliberately" (p.
Several programs have been established to help minority group members
structure their careers and become community college administrators. Pierce,
Mahoney, and Kee (1996) found three types of professional development opportunities:
university-based programs, programs offered by higher education associations,
and those offered by minority higher education organizations.
In the U.S. and Canada, there are approximately sixty graduate programs
that emphasize the study of community colleges. Some courses of study devoted
to leadership are also based at universities, such as the Community College
Leadership Program (CCLP) at the University of Texas, Austin (which leads
to an Ed.D. or Ph.D.), the Leadership Institute of a New Century (LINC)
at Iowa State University, and the University of Kentucky Community College
System Leadership Academy.
Several higher education associations offer seminars, internship programs,
and workshops designed to improve management and leadership skills. The
American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Council
on Education (ACE), and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT)
all sponsor programs that range from workshops held at their national conventions
to year-long Fellows programs.
To recruit and encourage prospective minority administrators, minority-centered
higher education groups have offered professional development opportunities.
Among these groups are the National Council on Black American Affairs (NCBAA),
the National Community College Hispanic Council, the Asian and Pacific
Islanders Council, and the American Association for Women in Community
IMPROVING MINORITY ADMINISTRATOR RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION
Phelps and Taber (1996) offer several recruitment strategies that would
allow community colleges to improve minority representation. Recommended
-Identify and publicize college goals and timetables for diversity;
-Maintain clear policies and procedures for hiring, tenure, and evaluation.
-Require regular progress reports.
-Enlist the help of consulting organizations that specialize in minority
-Give the Equal Employment Opportunity officer enough authority; he
or she should report directly to the president and should be taken seriously
by the human resources department, appointing authorities, and other administrators.
-Advertise openings in minority community publications; communicate
with professional minority organizations, church groups, and other community
-Offer diversity training for current faculty and staff to create a
cordial and inviting workplace.
-Institute sensitive new employee orientation and employee integration
Phelps and Taber indicate that not all members of minority groups are
committed to diversity, nor are they necessarily experts on affirmative
Vaughan (1996) adds to this list the following recommendations:
-Search for administrative candidates from sources other than the traditional
academic pipeline, such as public school superintendents and retiring military
-Provide mentors and sponsors for potential minority candidates.
-Seek qualified candidates; eliminate the words "best qualified".
In addition, Fujimoto (1996) offers the following tactics:
-Encourage minority faculty to participate in administrative activities,
such as academic senates and unions.
-Provide professional development leadership opportunities in local,
statewide, and national community college organizations.
-Work with the private corporate sector to find funding for innovative
By the year 2000, one out of every three Americans will be non-white
(Muller, 1996). As the United States becomes more diverse, community colleges
have an obligation to teach about and to serve as a model of diversity.
Minority leadership in the community college will facilitate achieving
This digest was drawn from "Achieving Administrative Diversity, New
Directions for Community Colleges, Number 94," edited by Raymond C. Bowen
and Gilbert H. Muller; published in June, 1996. The cited articles include:
"Paradox and Promise: Leadership and Neglected Minorities," by George Vaughan;
"From the Projects to the Presidency: An African American Odyssey," by
Raymond C. Bowen; "The Powers of the Presidency," by Rafael L. Cortada;
"The Community College Presidency: An Asian Pacific American Perspective,"
by M. Jack Fujimoto; "Urban Community Colleges: Gateways to Administrative
Diversity," by Gilbert H. Muller; "Affirmative Action as an Equal Opportunity
Opportunity," by Donald G. Phelps and Lynn Sullivan Taber; and "Professional
Development Resources for Minority Administrators," by David R. Pierce,
James R. Mahoney, and Arnold M. Kee.