Dear BI Career Consultants:
I have heard of programs to increase the number of minority faculty by allowing them to teach if they are in the final stages of their doctorate. Can you tell me if there are any programs like thisfor prospective college administrators?
Programs to increase the number of minority college administrators — analogous to those designed to increase the number of minority professors — are rare. There is indeed a need to increase the numbers of people of color and women in administrative positions in colleges and universities, but the two professional groupings — the professorate and college administration — differ a great deal primarily in the requirements for entry, the career ladder and the source of the initiative.
There might be multiple reasons, but the main one comes down to the fact that one becomes a professor primarily by traveling a distinct route: scholarship and earning the doctorate. One becomes a college administrator by taking a variety of paths. The professorate is an overarching/holistic concept — “college administration” is not.
Thus, to go into college administration really depends on the type of college administration that interests you: Academic? Student affairs? Admissions? Human resources? Facilities management?
Let’s say you are interested in positions in academic administration, such as provost or dean of the graduate school, dean of a college, or head of an academic department. In most cases, the occupant of these positions must first be a faculty member and one who has achieved the rank of full professor. On the other hand, should you be interested in positions in student affairs such as dean of students, director of the student union, or director of housing, the occupant of these positions may come from a range of previous occupations or functional areas within the college student affairs profession. Although many student affairs professionals do hold the doctorate, probably most hold a master’s degree, and need not necessarily have entered the field through student affairs.
Because college administration is a broad term, encompassing a wide range of specializations, programs leading to these positions are varied. It would be wise to check with the association devoted to the type of administration that interests you to determine if it sponsors such programs. For example, call NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) regarding careers in senior student affairs administration, and ACPA (American College Personnel Association) for student affairs careers in general — including senior administration.
Dr. Anne S. Pruitt-Logan
Scholar in Residence
Council of Graduate Schools
My response to this question is in the context of student affairs administrators in higher education. While I am not aware of a formal program to hire people of color who are candidates for the doctorate as college administrators, I can imagine student affairs vice presidents, deans and directors who read this saying, “Have I got a job for you!” While not required for many positions in student affairs, the doctorate is a common degree among mid- and upper-level administrators.
There are innumerable opportunities for people of color who have not yet received the doctorate to increase their skills and learning through the various departments and functions within student affairs. In fact, it is exceptionally rare that an administrator in student affairs would complete the terminal degree before acquiring experience in college administration. In student affairs, experience is highly valued because we believe that classroom learning paired with applied experience is critical to one’s overall effectiveness as a college administrator. Those who hire new doctorate holders look for experience beyond internships, and if one already has held professional positions in the field, the opportunities for higher-level administrative positions are great.
Student affairs is a good field in which to apply what one has learned and to identify what one still needs to learn. I am aware of a number of instances in which a doctoral candidate has changed course and altered his/her area of study in order to focus research on an intriguing issue encountered during work experience as an administrator.
Administrative positions in student affairs are good transitions between specialized training and the complex tasks of a college or university administrator. And, perhaps more than any other area, student affairs has a track record of hiring, supporting, promoting, and launching the careers of promising professionals of color.
NASPA is so deeply committed to increasing the number of people of color as college administrators that it has been mentoring and providing leadership training for undergraduate students of color for more than a decade through its Minority Undergraduate Fellows Program. One could say that we a growing our own by focusing on undergraduate students who want to be college and university administrators.
Dr. Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators
— Compiled by Joan Morgan
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