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Commitment at the Highest Levels

Commitment at the Highest Levels”Bringing more than skin color to the party” pretty much sums up our cover story on recruiting faculty of color. One new faculty hire from Rochester Institute of Technology says minority faculty have to do just that and must “bring ways to contribute to the strategic direction of the university and the department.”
In our cover story, “Mission Possible,” Kendra Hamilton features three universities located on the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast whose recruitment efforts of future faculty and future minority faculty truly demonstrate commitment at the institutions’ highest levels.
The Rochester Institute of Technology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and California State University-Los Angeles, three different types of institutions with different demographics, share in common the desire and commitment of the administration, department heads, etc., to go after the best and brightest faculty of color. The schools are succeeding and are good examples of what it takes to achieve a diverse faculty. They prove that schools have to be proactive in their efforts.
Nationwide the numbers of minority faculty still may not be where we’d like them to be, but after reading Kendra’s article you get the sense that some schools are on the right track and that achieving a diverse faculty is a realistic goal for schools not considered to be minority-serving institutions.
On the student side of recruitment and retention, Lydia Lum reports on the record enrollments many colleges and universities are experiencing this fall. Some of the significant enrollment increases are due to children of the baby boomer generation becoming of college age, but those schools that are seeing an increase in the number of students of color, are primarily attributing that growth to their outreach and diversity efforts. Schools are realizing that we live in a diverse country that’s only becoming more diverse; therefore, schools have to provide a setting — meaning a student body and faculty ranks — that reflect this country’s changing demographics.
Tracie Powell and Shilpa Banerji take a look at two unique student retention programs at Alabama State, a historically Black university, and California State University-Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), classified as a Hispanic-serving institution respectively. Alabama State, not satisfied with their retention and graduation rates, have identified some of the reasons that make it difficult for their students to stay and graduate and have implemented a new retention program this fall. In their new program “Latinas Juntas,” CSUDH is specifically targeting Latina female students, who in many cases because of traditional family values and gender roles also find it difficult to remain in college.
Lastly, senior writer Ronald Roach’s articles focus on Black males in academia. Ronald’s article on Georgia’s Black male initiative also demonstrates that to tackle some of our public policy issues such as the low numbers of Black males, relative to Black females, enrolled in our nation’s colleges and universities, it has to be made a priority from the “top” as well, and it doesn’t hurt to have some funding behind the effort either. The state has funded a major study on Black male educational attainment and the lack of college enrollment and completion and adopted the study’s recommendations in efforts to boost Black male academic achievement in the state. Ronald also traveled to Kansas City, Mo., earlier this month to attend the Brotherhood of the Academy’s first national think tank. Participants  not only were treated to inspirational speeches, but more importantly got together to discuss ways to empower not just Black men, but the Black community as a whole. 

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