Making the Leap

Sitting through a session at the annual American Council on Education meeting in February on “Advancing Diversity in the College Presidency,” the presenters discussed recent findings from the ACE study “The American College President.”

The typical pipeline to the presidency is faculty member to department chair to administrator to college president. However, the numbers show that Asian Americans by and large are not making that leap from faculty member to administrator. To be sure, as the ACE study shows, racial and ethnic minorities only make up 10 percent of college presidents when minority-serving institutions are excluded. But the situation for Asian Americans is particularly of concern.

Dr. Les Wong, president of Northern Michigan University, noted during that same session that he knows every Asian president of a U.S. university because there are so few, 0.9 percent according to ACE, even though they represent approximately 6 percent of tenured faculty. I’m sure Wong would like to see a time when he can’t name them all, so he’s encouraging college presidents to serve as mentors.

In “Forming a Pipeline to the Presidency,” contributing editor Lydia Lum interviews Wong and others about efforts to prepare and encourage Asian faculty and administrators to think about the presidency. Wong, who serves as a mentor, says Asians are typically very loyal to their jobs as long as they are treated well, but he tries to communicate to his colleagues that they have to be loyal to themselves and think about their futures. “This is hard to drill into their heads,” Wong says in the article. “I tell them, ‘Trust me. Your non-Asian colleagues are thinking about their futures.”

Speaking of futures, many colleges and universities are seeing an “early study abroad” trend in which an increasing number of South Korean students leave their native country as teenagers and move to an English-speaking country in hopes of attending an American university.

Diverse correspondent Phuong Ly reports on this growing trend and interviews, Jin Yong Choi, a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who moved to Canada at age 14 by himself. His parents rented a furnished apartment for him, and he had an adult guardian to check up on him, but Choi says at times it was rough dealing with the language barrier and coming home to an empty apartment.

Historically, reports Phuong, most of UIUC’s international students have been from India or China, but now one in four of its 5,200 students from overseas is from Korea. Julie Misa, of the international students office at UIUC, says these students bring diversity to the campus but, at the same time, often have issues adjusting. Read more in “The Early Study Abroad Trend.’”

Lastly, Diverse correspondent Jamal Watson interviews four former politicians for the article “Politicos Turned Professors.” Former Philadelphia mayor John Street and former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke are two of the “politicos” Jamal spoke with. University of Maryland political science professor Ronald Walters says the first generation of Black politicians didn’t have the credentials to teach at the university level, but that’s changing. Now, reports Jamal, many Black legislators and policymakers have degrees from top universities or experience in public policy institutes before serving out their terms, making them attractive faculty and administrator candidates for many colleges and universities.

Click here to post and read comments



© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com