North Texas Daily

commUNrooTs: UNT faculty not reflective of diverse student body

commUNrooTs: UNT faculty not reflective of diverse student body

commUNrooTs: UNT faculty not reflective of diverse student body
November 16
11:32 2018

Over the past five years, UNT has moved from being a predominantly white institution (PWI) to a minority serving institution (MSI), which means  50 percent of the student body are students of color. According to the UNT fact book, UNT has moved from serving 43 percent of students of color to 50 percent in the past five school years.

Although the student body may be diverse, that is not the case for UNT faculty. The faculty currently consists of 24 percent people of color.

“UNT is showing signs of progress,” said Alex Cortez, a public relations senior from Mexico. “Although I believe the school is diverse, it could make decisions to become more diverse.” 

Of 10 different UNT colleges, almost all of them have predominantly white professors.

The College of Engineering is the only college that has more professors of color than white. There are 97 professors within the college, and of those professors, 35 are white professors, and 48 are of color, the majority of which are Asian. The remaining have been listed as “other.”

In comparison to other universities in the area, UNT’s faculty diversity is comparable. Texas Woman’s University has a total of 937 instructional faculty and 27 percent of those professors are people of color. For UNT, there is a total of 1,114 instructional faculty and 24 percent of those are people of color.

The comparison of the diversity of those professors in relation to undergraduate student bodies between schools is not similar though. Based on the number of undergraduate students at both universities, UNT students are more likely to have professors of color.

According to a Twitter poll with 358 votes, 38 percent of UNT students of color have had at least one professor of color from a different race, 33 percent have had a professor of color from their race and the remaining 29 percent have never had a professor of color.

These numbers show most students are likely to have an abundance of white professors than they are to have a professor of color.

Infographic Zaira Perez

According to “Who Believes in Me,” a research paper by the UpJohn Institute, black professors are more likely to have a high estimation of student’s academic abilities than a non-black professor.

The “Pygmalion effect” is the phenomenon in which a person’s expectations for a target are predictive of the target’s performance. If there are not many teachers who see students of color in a positive light or have their best interests at heart, fewer of those students are likely to graduate.

This may be part of the reason behind black males having the lowest retention rate at the university. According to UNT Data, Analytics & Institutional Research, in 2017, black men at UNT had a 73.9 percent retention rate, in comparison to black women who have an 84.5 percent retention rate, the highest rate on campus.

“I’ve taken about 100 credit hours, and I have only had three professors of color,” said Christopher Willis Jr., a communication studies junior. “Those professors have affected my college experience because it was definitely easier to reach out to them because they were able to understand the needs of my situations without thinking less of me.”

According to the Office for Faculty Success, there are organizations that push for the recruitment and retention of faculty of color at UNT, including the Black Faculty Network and La Colectiva.

At the 2018 State of the University address, UNT President Neal Smatresk said the administration also plans to apply for MSI status for the university after becoming a minority majority institution.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment because there won’t be a wonderful workforce future for our states unless we embrace the diversity of our state and work hard to make sure our students achieve at the highest levels,” Smatresk said in the address.

Editors Note: This story was written as a collaboration between the North Texas Daily and the UNT chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Although the original survey classified Native American people as “American Indian,” the North Texas Daily changed the terminology as to avoid any confusion.

Featured Image: Infographic Alexia Johnson

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Alexia Johnson

Alexia Johnson

Zaira Perez

Zaira Perez

Senior News Writer

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