Black Faculty at the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Colleges and Universities

Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Summer 2005

In all but a few cases, the nation’s highest-ranked colleges have made only slight progress in increasing the percentage of blacks on their faculties. At the current rate of improvement, it will be a century or more before the black percentages of the faculties of these institutions mirror the black percentage of the American work force.

Nationwide, just over 5 percent of all full-time faculty members at colleges and universities in the United States are black. This percentage has increased slightly over the past decade.

But the percentage of black faculty at almost all the nation’s high-ranking universities is significantly below the national average.

JBHE recently surveyed the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities to determine the number and percentage of blacks on their faculties. We received responses from 28 high-ranking universities. Tufts University and the University of Southern California declined to provide statistics to the JBHE research department.

This Year’s Results

Of the 28 high-ranking universities that responded to our survey this year, blacks made up more than 5 percent of the total full-time faculty at only four institutions. Once again, as was the case in our previous survey in 2002, Columbia University has the highest percentage of black faculty at 6.4 percent. But it must be noted that after our 2002 survey was published, it was later reported that a large majority of Columbia’s black faculty members were in its graduate and professional schools. Columbia professor Manning Marable told JBHE that of the 400 professors with tenure at the Columbia College of Arts and Sciences, only five were black. Professor Marable added that the number of black faculty at the undergraduate college had not increased in the past decade. We note that this summer Columbia has pledged $15 million for an effort to increase the number of women and minorities on its faculty

The 90 black faculty members at the University of North Carolina made up 5.7 percent of the full-time faculty, the second highest level in our survey. At Emory University in Atlanta, blacks are 5.2 percent of the total faculty. At the University of Michigan, there are 140 black full-time faculty, the most of any university in our survey. They make up 5.1 percent of the full-time faculty on the Ann Arbor campus.

At 24 of the 28 universities that responded to our survey, the black percentage of the total faculty was below 5 percent. Only four of the 282 faculty members at CalTech are black. Thus, blacks are 1.4 percent of the faculty at this prestigious institution. At Rice University in Houston, blacks are only 1.5 percent of the faculty. At MIT, the University of Chicago, and the University of Notre Dame, blacks are less than 3 percent of the total faculty.

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At three universities there was no progress in the level of black faculty in the 1999 to 2005 period. At two of these three schools, the level of black faculty dropped from the 2002 to 2005 period.

At Rice University, the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia University, and Emory University, the percentage of blacks on the faculty has dropped since 1999. At Emory the drop was substantial, from 7.1 percent of all faculty in 1999 to 5.2 percent this year. But we remind the reader that Emory still ranks second in our survey for the percentage of black faculty this year. At Berkeley, clearly the prohibition against affirmative action in faculty hiring has had a negative impact on black faculty levels since 1999. During the period the number of full-time black faculty members at the university has dropped from 45 to 28.

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