Mismatch Between Professors and Students of Color Permeates Higher Education in Connecticut and New England

Connecticut by the Numbers

A report by NEBHE highlights mismatch between faculty and students of color in Connecticut.Project image

While New England's undergraduate population is becoming increasingly diversified, there is still a demographic "mismatch" between the percentage of students of color relative to faculty of color in Connecticut.

A recent report by the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), analyzing 2018 data, found that while Black undergraduates represented 14.3% of Connecticut's student population, only 5.7% of the state's faculty were Black. Likewise, Hispanics students made up 19.2% of the student population, but only 4.2% of the state's faculty were Hispanic. By contrast, white students made up roughly 60% of Connecticut's undergraduate population, but nearly 82% of faculty were white.

Connecticut has the largest faculty-student demographic "mismatch" between the state's Hispanic and Black community college faculty and students in New England, the analysis found. The gaps are much greater than the regional average.

Connecticut's public four-year institutions have the second largest faculty-student demographic "mismatch" between the state's Hispanic faculty and students in New England, surpassed only by Rhode Island.

The review of available data also found that Connecticut's private not-for-profit four-year institutions have the second highest demographic gap between Black faculty and students, surpassed only by New Hampshire. These colleges and universities have the highest demographic gap between Hispanic faculty and students in New England.

To reach faculty-student racial/ethnic parity by 2026, the rate of growth of Black and Hispanic/Latino faculty populations in New England, according to the analysis, would need to accelerate significantly beyond current modest growth levels. Projections of student and faculty populations suggest that Connecticut's postsecondary institutions would need to have:

· 149% (1,517) more Black faculty

· 355% (2,649) more Hispanic or Latino faculty

· 23% (332) fewer Asian faculty

· 26% (3,819) fewer white faculty

Underscoring the imperative for action, the NEBHE analysis indicates that if hiring patterns remain unchanged, it would take 23.7 years to reach the goal of hiring 149% more Black faculty and 56.9 years to reach the goal of hiring 221% more Hispanic faculty.

The report also indicated that at Connecticut's colleges and universities, a disproportionately greater share of white faculty hold the most senior title of "full" professor. Black and Hispanic faculty tend to hold the more junior titles of assistant professor and associate professor.

The importance of having faculty that reflect the diversity of the student population is also highlighted in the report, citing numerous studies and their findings. Instructors of color, NEBHE points out, can improve student outcomes.

“Studies suggest that minority students are more likely to persist in their college degree program if they have an introductory course that is taught by a minority professor. Among community college students, gaps between minority and non-minority students in pass rates, grades, and courses dropped are smaller when classes are taught by professors who are minorities themselves.”

Research shows that instructors of color are more likely to set higher expectations for students of color, who are more sensitive to instructor expectations than white students, the NEBHE report indicated.

The NEBHE analysis, prepared by Associate Director of Policy Research and Analysis Stephanie Murphy, was prepared in March 2021. A report was developed for each of the New England States highlighting the demographic “mismatch” between BIPOC faculty and BIPOC students.

NEBHE promotes greater education opportunities and services for the residents of New England and its more than 270 colleges and universities. Based in Boston, it works across the six New England states to help leaders assess, develop and implement sound education practices and policies of regional significance; to promote regional cooperation and programs that encourage the efficient use and sharing of educational resources; and to strengthen the relationship between higher education and the economic well-being and quality of life in New England.

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