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Faculty Quality in Black and White Public Schools and Universities in Selected Southern States: 1954-1980

by Robert T. Blackburn & Denise Young - 1985

This paper compares the quality of faculty at traditionally black institutions (TBIs) and traditionally white institutions (TWIs) in Louisiana and Mississippi since the Brown v. Board of Education decision. While TBIs have improved greatly, the gap between TBIs and TWIs is still large. Selected issues are discussed. (Source: ERIC)

Clifton W. Conrad, University of Arizona, has been and is an ongoing co-colleague in the research on which this paper is based. We are indebted to him. Also, Cari Ralph contributed coding and preliminary data analysis. To conserve on space and to control costs, the original thirteen tables and eleven figures of supporting data have been reduced to those printed here. For the interested scholar, a limited supply of these tables and figures is available from the first author for $I for postage, costs, and handling (cash, or check to Center for the Study of Higher Education, University of Michigan 2007 School of Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Michigan 48109).

There is a propensity in this country for worthy social causes to fall short of accomplishment. Launched with vigor, even the most worthy project may experience diminishing interest and loss of support before its goals are attained. The reasons for nonattainment are not outright neglect, but rather that a new social cause captures the headlines, human energy, and financial resources. Adoption of new causes is often more attractive than ongoing commitment to a goal, but continued participation and support are absolutely necessary to convert a dream into a reality.1

The dismantling of a dual system of higher education that promotes segregation is no exception to the pattern of first the adoption and then the abandonment of a project. Fiscal crises at both federal and state levels coupled with the deterioration of public support of higher education has threatened desegregation plans, which require external monitoring and support. Moreover, demographic factors have created practical problems for those colleges, especially public four-year institutions, undergoing desegregation. Overall declining enrollments and forecasts of continued decline at traditionally black institutions (TBIs) have initiated state program reviews that are used as a method of quality assessment as well as the basis of decisions for merger or closure of these institutions.2 The maintenance of quality programs and the closure of others in order to preserve higher education is the goal of higher education’s decision makers. Quality is today’s byword, and while everyone champions quality, the consequences of efforts focused primarily on quality have had anything but a sterling track record for goals of equality.3

The first reason for this inquiry is to examine what has been accomplished in higher education in terms of desegregation in the quarter century since the Brown decision.4 The possible sacrifice of the goal of equality as a result of the quest for quality is the second reason for comparing TBIs with traditionally white institutions (TWIs): pluralism, egalitarianism, and meritocratic standards, as well as the future of TBIs and the human beings they educate, are at stake today. Another reason for assessing and comparing quality in TBIs and TWIs is the contribution such an analysis can make to the development of program assessment variables.

Faculties of TBIs and TWIs are the focus of this inquiry and the component around which the analysis proceeds. While faculty quality is not the only criterion for answering the questions raised in relation to quality and the evolution of educational equity—curriculum, resources, students, and leadership also matter—there would be no debate as to the centrality of academic competence in the judgment of college and university quality. The aim is not to uncover causes and advance remedies, but rather to assay the current status of the dual systems.


Education has been viewed as the key element in transcending social class, competing on the basis of talent and merit, However, the American dream of social advancement via education has always been championed in the face of a stratified system of institutions. One method indicating the stratum to which a university is “assigned” is through rankings. From the first university rankings5 to the deluge of ratings in the last decades,6 which have now been cast in concrete by the Carnegie Council,7 it is clear that not all colleges and universities arc equal. Social stratification theory provides convenient categories for colleges and universities because it supplies concepts for explanation of faculty quality, especially in terms of their professional preparation.

Conrad and Blackburn have reviewed the literature on quality ratings of colleges and universities and determined that these ratings fall into three major categories, including reputational measures, “objective” indicators, and correlative studies.8 Faculty career paths, mobility, scholarly contributions, reception of honors and awards, and similar factors have also been studied extensively in order to assess a university’s standing.9 These studies show the insurmountable advantage of having started at the “top,” as a student and as a faculty member. Bereleson reported that 90 percent of the faculty of the highest rated twelve universities were graduates of these same institutions, a phenomenon that most likely has not changed since his study.10

When examining institutional accomplishments over time and current program quality across TBIs and TWIs, it will be important to recognize the constraints that result from the theoretical perspective of social stratification. It will also be necessary to consider perceptions of relative status because perceptions affect behavior, including the allocation of resources, recruitment decisions for students and faculty, and the careers of those who matriculate at or work in College A rather than College B.


While data from several sources across the South11 will be examined. the more detailed analyses will use information about public four-year colleges and universities in Louisiana and Mississippi. Generalizations will not be drawn from the extensive data for these two states. However, some similarities and differences between them and other southern states will be noted.

The Louisiana and Mississippi data sources include catalogs for selected years, documents prepared for various accrediting bodies and reports of the corresponding associations, HEGIS printouts, AAUP Bulletin (salaries and benefits), detailed self-studies prepared for state offices (including vitae on more than 2,000 faculty in five disciplines), the program evaluation reports written by teams of external review experts, a number of institutional documents prepared in compliance with hiring practices and other “in-house” studies, financial and space reports, and interviews with officers of each of the geographically proximate TBIs and TWIs in the two states. This massive data pool produced 147 variables for examining program quality across TBIs and TWIs.12 The data provide many opportunities for crosschecking and have proven to be highly dependable.13 Most of the reports consist of facts (e.g., degrees a professor holds) that are free from falsification or bias. Missing data made some desired comparisons impossible, a frustration here as in other studies.

Most of the 147 variables were not available over the historical period. However, it was possible to attain data for the highest earned degree, the university at which it was conferred, and salaries. These variables provided four indicators of faculty quality: (1) the level of formal education received: (2) the quality of that advanced training: (3) the institution that provided that graduate education; and (4) faculty salary. The higher the level of faculty education (Ph.D. versus an M.A.), the more qualified that faculty is to educate its students, especially at the graduate level. (M.A. programs are being compared in this study.) Data about the institution that conferred the faculty degree is important for several reasons. Employing graduates from highly rated universities, as compared with those of lower repute, will, on the average, lead to a higher quality faculty. It is also true that for institutions that do not have national reputations, the collective faculty will be of higher quality the less they are inbred. Last, the salary faculty receive is a relative measure of their perceived worth, or the market value of their skills. These justifications set forth the logic that led to the selection of the four indicators used in the study’s historical analysis. Like all measures of quality, each is but a component and an incomplete indicator of the overall concept of quality.

In order to compare current program quality between TBIs and TWIs, three measures of faculty scholarly productivity were added to the four historical variables. Studies of faculty productivity have used a variety of indicators (measures). These measures were adopted here, but provision had to be made for the fact that the majority of these professors are not high producers, and a distribution of the variable is essential if comparisons are to be made. The three measures arc: (1) number of articles in national journals in the past five years: (2) total career publications; and (3) the number of all types of publications per year. The first measure is similar to what studies typically use but with the time increments lengthened to five years. The second measure allows for a changing publication rate. The last measure takes into account all types of written products rather than confining the measure to scholarly articles in refereed journals.

Judgments were made as to the proper institutional comparisons to be conducted between TBIs and TWIs. The assumptions on which pairings were made were not the same in the two states because of differing university structures and the geographical distributions of the TBIs and TWIs. In addition, some comparisons were not possible because of the unavailability of data.

In Louisiana, there are three sets of geographically approximate TBIs and TWIs—Southern University and Louisiana State University, both land-grant institutions in Baton Rouge (So-Br and LSU-Br); “branch” campuses of these two universities in New Orleans, Southern University-New Orleans (SUNO) and the University of New Orleans (UNO); and Grambling and Louisiana Tech, about seven miles apart in the north central part of the state. Salary and degree data were available for these pairs of comparisons as well as with the state’s remaining group of regional TWIs: McNeese (McN), Nichols (Nich), Northeastern (NE), Northwestern (NW), Southeastern (SE), and Southwestern (SW). In Louisiana, missing data limited current program quality comparisons to one TBI (So-Br) and various combinations of TWIs.

In Mississippi, one distinct pair of regional institutions exists—Valley (a TBI) and Delta (a TWI). While TBI Alcorn is a land-grant institution and because of its geographical location competes somewhat with the University of Southern Mississippi (USoMS), especially in locations about the same distance from each (e.g., in Natchez), most direct comparisons between them arc inappropriate because of the unequal complexities of the two schools, USoMS having many doctoral programs and Alcorn having little graduate work. (Data on Alcorn and USoMS will be displayed side by side, but not systematically compared.)

Jackson State University (JSU) is some distance from each of the TWIs that have graduate degree programs—USoMS, the University of Mississippi (UMS), and Mississippi State University (MSU). Yet all four of these institutions recruit and enroll on a statewide rather than a regional basis. Furthermore, the three TWIs have a joint degree-granting branch campus on the outskirts of Jackson that JSU considers a direct competitor. Comparisons between JSU and the three TWIs individually and collectively are made. Finally, Mississippi University for Women (MUW) was not used in the comparisons because it had no meaningful parallels with any TBI. Data on MUW are reported separately in the study and arc included when summaries were made of TWIs or the state system.

While what is reported below has been coded for mathematical treatment, statistically significant differences are not reported. The argument does not revolve around whether the percentage of Ph.D.s at University A is significantly greater than the percentage at B, but rather whether a pattern of consistent differences emerges over a set of factors. A small annual salary difference may meet neither a statistical nor a poverty level test, but it is a real difference and carries a real status difference that affects faculty lives.


The principal findings fall into two major categories: (1) changes that have occurred from 1954 to 1980 and (2) relative quality judgments of comparable programs at TBIs and TMIs. The data are from four arts and sciences departments (biology, chemistry, history, and mathematics) and one professional unit (education). The academic discipline selections were in part guided by the need to limit data collection and analysis and in part by the availability of the institutions for which comparable data were available. The discipline selections are also theoretical in that these arts and sciences departments offer service courses (e.g., general education) and award degrees, many at the master’s level or higher. Education was selected because it is the major professional unit in the state-supported systems of Louisiana and Mississippi.


Faculty Preparation

One measure of educational quality is the extent of the faculty’s education. Table 1 displays this information for the state of Louisiana at three periods when relatively complete information was available. Table 2 presents similar information for Mississippi’s public four-year colleges and universities.




Three generalizations may be drawn from these data. First, when measured by highest earned degree, all institutions have appreciably improved their faculty quality since 1954. Second, at each point in time, faculty at TBIs have fewer doctorates than faculty at TWIs. Finally, while the gap between the two types of institutions has been narrowing, one reason for this outcome is that the TWIs have nearly reached the ceiling imposed by the scale used for rating degree level.

Three other studies report the percentages of faculty doctoral degree attainment in southern states over the time span under study. McGrath’s 1962 - 1963 data for 5,258 faculty in senior TBIs show 30 percent of the faculty with doctorates, whereas TWIs were estimated to have 51 percent.14 Huyck reports 28 percent in TBIs in 1963-1964.15 Sorkin also reports 28 percent for TBIs (25 percent for Louisiana, p. 116) and 44 percent for TWIs (42 percent for Louisiana) in 1967.16 These data are in accord with those in Table 1 for Louisiana in 1971. Along this quality measure, then, the two states are near the average of the collective TBIs in the South.

Faculty Status

Income is a status indicator in a stratified society, albeit not a perfect one. Ministers, for example, are an exception, because they are accorded more repute than indicated by the salary they earn. Professors are also members of an occupation society respects appreciably, even though professors earn only a fraction of what many other professional groups report as income. However, within their own occupation and especially since salary is as much symbolic as it is functional, differences in contracted institutional earnings carry significant status differences. This is especially true between identical units in different institutions. English professors who are paid more in College A than their counterparts in College B are judged to be of higher quality.

With some exceptions, the overall pattern of the salary data for Louisiana and Mississippi for those years between 1954 and 1980 for which data could be secured is clear (see Figure 1). Professors at TWIs are compensated at a higher level than those at TBIs.17 The figures for Mississippi show an increasingly widening gap between black and white institutions with the passage of time, despite the evidence of Table 1, which shows a diminishing difference in faculty educational attainments. In summary, although the educational attainment of faculty at TBIs has increased, their relative financial compensation has decreased. (The Louisiana data are comparable.)

Faculty Degree Quality

The institution at which one receives one’s education is another criterion of quality. The Carnegie Council draws level or quality distinctions among all types of four-year institutions in the United States.18 They list the top fifty research institutions (combined public and private) and call them Research Universities-I (RU-I). While debates exist on the significance of the difference at the border between levels, most concede that studying at one of these fifty institutions increases the likelihood of superior training. Indeed, every study shows the higher faculty research output at those universities and by their graduates wherever they are on staff.19 The third column for each Mississippi university in Table 2 shows the percent of faculty who received their highest degree from an RU-I. The general pattern is one of decline over the twenty-five years; however, there are differences between the TBIs and the TWIs. In 1954, JSU was not very different from UMS or MSU, and USoMS and Alcorn were essentially the same. By 1964, JSU and Alcorn were higher in degree quality than the doctoral-granting universities in the state. By 1974, the two TBls had fallen on this quality measure, and by 1980 the differences between TBIs and TWIs were appreciable.


One reason for the differential changes is integration. When blacks were barred from TWIs, they had to acquire their graduate education out of state (and most often out of the South). Since the density of RU-Is is appreciably greater out of the South (neither Louisiana nor Mississippi has an RU-I), blacks were more likely to enroll in these more highly rated universities20 (see the sections immediately following). After 1964, faculty at TBIs increasingly received their highest degrees from within the state or region, while TWIs recruited their faculty from a wider area. In an oversupplied discipline like history, TWIs have their highest fraction of staff from RU-Is whereas TBIs have the lowest proportion. There are few blacks earning Ph.D.s in history—especially black history in RU-Is.

With these differences noted, the general observation is that an increase in degree level, and hence faculty quality, over the past quarter century has corresponded with a decrease in the relative quality of that advanced degree.

Faculty Mix

Many argue that a high-quality department is staffed with professors from a wide assortment of universities rather than having a concentration of people from a few institutions.21 “Inbreeding” is the academic term employed for this phenomenon, one defined in many different ways (having one’s own graduates at every level—and with all permutations). Furthermore, while inbreeding is generally viewed as deleterious, the finest universities are an exception to this rule. Just as it is recognized that among champion thoroughbreds inbreeding is a common and sensible practice, it has been demonstrated that the top twelve RU-Is are highly inbred and retain high quality. Since neither the Louisiana nor the Mississippi colleges and universities under consideration has an RU-I, the quality judgments are based on the assumption that the greater the faculty mix or diversity, the greater the quality.

Table 2 contains data on faculty mix for Mississippi. Column 4 shows the percent of faculty who received their highest degree outside of state and column 5 the percent of faculty in each department whose highest degree is from a university outside the South, an indicator of national mixture. The out-of-state education at JSU and Alcorn before 1965 is clear. (The exception at Alcorn in education corresponds with a degree level closer to a B.A. than to an M.A. The M.Ed. is available at nearby JSU.) After 1965, there is a decline, which is more pronounced at Alcorn than at JSU.22 TWIs fluctuate some over the twenty-five years, but generally have remained consistent.

The faculty mix patterns are less pronounced at the other institutions. Between 1954 and 1964, JSU fell, rose, and then fell again. While it was lower in 1979-1980 than it was in 1953-1954, JSU still has more of its faculty who have earned their highest degree outside of the South than any other institution in the state. The TWI doctoral universities show fluctuations, except for USoMS, which has shown a pronounced increase in its national mix at the same time it has increased the degree level of its faculty. Alcorn, on the other hand, shows increasing homogeneity since 1964.

Overall, then, TBIs arc losing in faculty quality as measured by mix, whereas TWIs are remaining relatively constant. None of the institutions approach the level of RU-I prepared faculty they need for high quality.

Faculty Racial Integration

Racial and ethnic data were available for most of the years from 1960 to 1980 for each of three pairs of geographically proximate universities in Louisiana—SUNO and UNO, So-Br and LSU-Br, and Grambling and LA Tech. Furthermore, they existed for each of the traditional academic ranks, instructor through professor. (Comparable data were not available for Mississippi.)

The patterns are quite similar for each pair of institutions. With the exception of Southern University-New Orleans (SUNO), blacks at TWIs and non-blacks at TBIs were literally nonexistent before 1967. After that, there were a few blacks at TWIs, and they were almost exclusively at the entry level ranks. Neither Louisiana Tech nor the University of New Orleans (UNO) had had a single black full professor (out of 318). Louisiana State University—Baton Rouge (LSU-Br) had had one (out of 312).

The TBIs show a much higher percentage of non-black faculty at every rank, reaching as high as 45 percent. However, the data for the TBIs and TWIs arc not equivalent and hence restrict the comparisons that can be made. TWIs reported the number of black faculty; TBIs reported the number of non-black faculty. However, non-black includes all other ethnic origins. In fact, vita and catalog rosters make it clear that TBIs have a fair number of non-Western (Korean, Indian, Mid- and Far-Eastern) professors, especially in the natural sciences. A linguistic analysis supported this premise; however, the analysis could not distinguish black from white faculty and the number of the latter is unknown. (The concluding section discusses this phenomenon at more length.)

Pruitt23 studied cross-racial hiring in eight Adams states24 between 1975 and 1977 and found more whites of both sexes being hired than blacks. (Clearly the four Louisiana TWIs have accomplished little in integration goals vis a vis blacks.) Whether TBIs have achieved their hiring goals—or even what these goals are—is unknown.

Summarizing the findings thus far, quality is improving at both TWIs and TBIs when judged by faculty degree level but not by status, place of preparation, or mix. At the same time that faculty at TBIs have increased the extent of their formal education, the absolute difference in their salaries with their counterparts at TWIs has increased. That is, they are receiving less, not more, recognition, and hence have fallen in status compared to their peers in the TWIs. Now that Ph.D. programs are more readily accessible within the region, the quality of the earned degree has been falling, not rising. As for faculty integration, there is an increasing racial mix over the past fifteen years in TBIs; however, the exact nature of that mix is not known. In addition, it is not clear what racial mix is being sought by the TBIs. Finally, little progress has occurred in the integration of black faculty into TWIs.


Faculty—Highest Degree

Following the examination of change and “progress” over the past twenty-five years, the results presented in this section focus on current relative program quality between TBIs and TWIs.

As a word, quality sometimes carries with it elitist overtones. Writers refer to the select few, the elite, and immediately impute “quality” to them. When this is done, there is no way for, say, a community college to possess quality programs. Yet, just as all programs at the favored few are not excellent, other colleges can and do have a wide assortment of outstanding programs. Excellence would be the preferred term, for that is what is being addressed here. However, quality is what pervades the literature and it will be retained in this analysis.

Using the faculty’s highest degree as an indicator of program quality, comparisons are displayed for Mississippi institutions in Table 3. Using an arbitrary scale of Ph.D. = 6 and B.A. = 2, mean scores for four liberal arts departments and one professional school were computed. (Combined liberal arts and total institutional means are also included.) The data are entered in an order that facilitates comparisons between comparable TBIs and TWIs, namely, between JSU and UMS, MSU, and USoMS (individually and combined), between USoMS and Alcorn, and between Delta and Valley.


While JSU ties UMS in biology and exceeds it in chemistry, on all other comparisons the faculty at JSU are found to have a lower level of academic preparation. The liberal arts totals, as well as those in education and for the total institution, show JSU faculty with a lower-level terminal degree. Valley and Delta trade levels, and tie on the institutional total. Both, however, have a much lower level of faculty educational attainment and training than all the others except Alcorn. Alcorn is clearly no match for USoMS. And the combined TBIs are behind the combined TWIs in every category. Generally, then, faculty at TWIs have more education and training than their counterparts at the TBIs. On this criterion, these faculty are of higher quality.

When the identical computations are made for Louisiana, Southern comes out at the lower degree level when compared with LSU and with the combined facilities of the seven regional TWIs. With the exception of Southern’s biology faculty, which ties LSU and exceeds the regional universities, and its chemistry faculty, which ties both groups, the numbers are all on the side of the TWIs—for total liberal arts, for education, and for the total institution. The conclusion drawn with respect to unequal quality in Mississippi is warranted for Louisiana as well.

Rating of Graduate School from Which Highest Degree Was Earned

As was argued above, the quality of training a faculty member receives is another indicator of the excellence of the program. Data regarding the percentage of faculty who had received their highest degree from Research Universities-I were calculated and arranged in tables in a manner identical to Table 2 so that the same comparisons could be made. In the arts and science departments of LSU and So-Br, the percentages range from 85 percent of the history faculty at LSU having received their Ph.D.s from RU-Is, to 12 percent at Southern; in chemistry, the corresponding range is 65 to 27 percent. Education is the exception. Here So-Br is higher than LSU-Br with 29 versus 15 percent. When So-Br is compared with other TWIs the differences are not as great, but they nonetheless favor the TWIs in every instance. (Education was not included at the other TWIs and hence how So-Br compares in that specialization is not known.)

The comparable data for Mississippi follow a similar pattern for each of the sets of institutions. Overall, the percent of faculty at TWIs who have graduated from the top fifty rated research universities is nearly double the number in TBIs. The exceptions are in biology and chemistry, where JSU has a slightly higher percentage than the combined three large universities.

Faculty Productivity

On the scaled scores used to measure faculty scholarly productivity by the number of articles published in national journals over the past five years, So-Br was behind LSU-Br for every discipline except biology, including education. Never once did faculty productivity at So-Br exceed the combined faculty performance at the other TWIs, again, except in biology. In no instance in Mississippi did a TBI exceed a TWI on this measure of productivity. JSU did tie UMS and MSU in education. Overall, the conclusion is that the TBI faculty are of lower quality on this criterion.

When the faculty productivity indicator was total career publications (and the average career time was almost identical across TBIs and TWIs in both states), the results were the same. In no instance did So-Br exceed LSU-Br or the other TWIs. The same was true in Mississippi. There was not a single comparison where a TBI faculty had a higher career total publication than its comparable TWI. The conclusion here of lower quality at the TBIs has no exception.

On the third productivity measure, average yearly rate for publications of all kinds, the results were exactly the same in Louisiana. In Mississippi, however, there were instances when Valley faculty were more productive than their peers at Delta. This was the case in chemistry, mathematics, and education. (It needs to be noted, however, that at both insitutions, the publication rate is very low, the mode being zero.) Once again, the overall conclusion is the lower standing of the TBIs.

Returning to the exceptions noted earlier, it is important to recognize that quality is not necessarily evenly distributed across an institution, not even across a department. For example, while Harvard is rated higher than, say, State University A, it does not follow that not a single unit in this university is as good as its counterpart in Cambridge.

All biology and chemistry faculty at Southern have the Ph.D. This accomplishment is matched by the chemistry faculty in the white institutions, but not by all of the biology faculty at each of the universities. The high quality of the Southern biology faculty (as measured by the highest degree) appears again in two of the productivity measures.

The inference to be drawn at this juncture is that while the overall faculty quality is higher in the white institutions, at least one black institution has pockets of higher quality. (Also, it should be noted that at no point has the conclusion been drawn that the quality level, whether higher or lower, is adequate, average, superior, or any other absolute standard. All statements are comparative.)


Recently completed work, undertaken with nearly fifty other variables including financial support (e.g., dollars spent per Full Time Equivalent [FTE] student), resources (e.g., library holdings), student quality (e.g., entrance test scores), shows other TBI/TWI differences.25 For example, one finding is that TWIs generally have more programs available than do TBIs. When there is not program duplication, the TWIs are much more likely to have the unique program, thereby making them more attractive to potential students, black or white.

While exceptions exist for some programs in some institutions, the compilation of findings overwhelmingly accords higher quality to the faculty at the TWIs. Both TBIs and TWIs—especially the former—have increased the level of faculty preparation appreciably since the Brown decision. At the same time, a hiatus exists between the two sets of colleges and universities on every quality measure. The advantages are all on the side of the TWIs. In fact, in some measures, the gap appears to have widened over time.


Data analyses always suffer from legitimate criticism of information that should have been examined but was not. This inquiry is no exception. Louisiana and Mississippi are two states, not the twelve or fourteen that comprise the South if the South is, indeed, under the microscope. In addition, these states were not selected at random but rather were used because one of the authors had an occasion to collect not ordinarily available data. While disclaimers have been made, stereotypical generalizations are easily advanced. They should not be. When available data from other southern states were examined, they were comparable to that from Louisiana and Mississippi. Still, we do not know for certain how close these two states are to the mean, median, or mode for “the South.”

Second, this empirical examination does not include the history of these institutions. Their foundings, their geographical locations, the special populations they serve, and the political forces that have shaped their growth and development are not incorporated in the analysis. These are important considerations that lead to intense debates as to which was cause and which was effect. Introducing such material would have enriched the presentation; however, it would not have changed the faculty data.

A third potential criticism would be to question the deliberate decisions made regarding the criteria chosen to assess relative faculty quality. Some might say they are appropriate for RU-Is but not for the colleges and universities under study since their faculties engage primarily in teaching and serve a special clientele. One may argue that faculty should be judged on these criteria, not degree level, place of preparation, and research.

Indeed it would be enriching to have other criteria, as was noted earlier. But to infer that Ph.D.s who publish are not superior to those who do not publish is not defensible. Studies show a positive correlation between research and student ratings of teaching effectiveness. Furthermore, the data show that these institutions, including TBIs, are purposely recruiting and hiring the faculty type for which the criteria used here apply.

Fourth is the potential criticism that unfair comparisons were made because, in some instances, the institutions differ in scope and mission. One who levels this charge should do so with caution. It implies that those universities (TWIs in almost every case) that have more programs spread over more degree levels should have richer resources (including faculty preparation) than those that have been constrained (TBIs in almost every case). This stance is guaranteed to perpetuate inequality or stratification. It is believed that the comparisons between institutions were appropriate. For example, MSU has more programs than JSU and offers doctoral degrees. One might expect higher faculty salaries (status) on that ground alone. But when the salaries of the five groups analyzed here were compared with all faculty at MSU (including business, engineering, and so forth), there was no difference.

The study has shown the extent to which equality has been achieved in these two states. It reveals the gaps and indicates their magnitude. From the perspective of progress, the TBIs have traveled the greater distance. From the perspective of quality of offerings between TBIs and TWIs, the distance between them remains appreciable, with TBIs presiding in a lower stratum. The consequences of inequality are many. Most are obvious and require no elaboration. What follows is a commentary on selected issues.

First, it was noted that many non-black faculty at TBIs are from non- Western countries. Frequently they earned their Ph.D.‘s in this country and most often from a university outside the South. They are people from another culture with a relatively short experience in a new and an overwhelmingly white urban society. They are recruited by faculty search committees and administrative officers of TBIs and hired for the disciplinary expertise and status (Ph.D.) they bring to the institution. These faculty assume employment in still another culture, primarily black and sometimes rural. Although there arc successes, conversations with administrators have revealed the frequent unfortunate outcomes, especially for the students. For example, an Asian scientist who spent three years in an overwhelmingly white northern university obtaining a Ph.D. will know little about rural blacks whose disadvantaged backgrounds will create a wide discrepancy between expected and actual performance. Even speech (dialect) differences create problems. The costs, benefits, and consequences of hiring these individuals at TBIs need further examination.

Second, the pool of black Ph.D.‘s remains small and the latest figures on graduate school enrollments are discouraging. In addition, some fields are particularly underrepresented. It is not known whether black baccalaureates in the social sciences arc headed for law, and those in the natural sciences for medicine and dentistry (where minority enrollments have increased over the last decade) because of career preference, ambitions to best serve society, economic returns, or other reasons. The result for today, and for tomorrow, is a critical shortage of black Ph.D.‘s for academic positions, particularly high quality Ph.D.‘s for TBIs. Since such a black Ph.D. will be courted by TWIs, this person is less likely to become employed by a TBI.

Third, improving faculty quality at TBIs is a complex issue for other reasons as well. Burrows surveyed seventy black administrators in twenty public TBIs in twelve states. When asked about upper limits of white faculty that could be employed in their institutions before there would be concern regarding their tradition and mission, the modal frequency for faculty responses was 30 percent. Eleven respondents said there need not be any upper limit to the number of white faculty in the institution. (The modal figures for student body and administrators were 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively.)26 There is an overabundance of white Ph.D.‘s on the market today. They exist in almost every field and include graduates from the most highly rated institutions. It is not known if they are applying for positions at TBIs or are being recruited. (As was noted earlier, falling enrollments and dollars will decrease the normal number of vacancies.) Recent conversations with presidents at two TBIs uncovered grave concern over the loss of their historic role should white students approach even 5 percent of the enrollment.

Fourth, improving quality is more than a question of availability of talent. Pluralism and integration, laws, court cases, executive orders, traditions, unique roles, opportunities, and obligations all enter into and have impact on the issue. The concerns are many and what may be most beneficial in the short run may not be over time. For example, adding (or transferring) a unique program to a TBI may attract white students; it can also produce a white college within a black university, a phenomenon that has already occurred. In another instance, a high-quality professional program has led to a mix of students in a TBI, an outcome many, but not all, would judge to be “good.” Furthermore, as Peterson et al. have shown, a rapid and significant influx of black students into TWIs has major organization as well as social consequences27—consequences some TWIs have managed more effectively than others. As previously stated, the issue of quality improvement is a complex one.

Finally, of all the needed research suggested by the data displayed and the issues raised in this study, career paths for faculty and students need special attention. As has been clearly shown, institutional social stratification persists—because U.S. higher education is a stratified system, one that shows few signs of change despite egalitarian actions and increased access. If one has started at the bottom stratum of the system, upward mobility has been minimal even though quality improvement has occurred. The future goal of TBIs is a critical issue for these institutions and the people they serve.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 86 Number 4, 1985, p. 593-613
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 911, Date Accessed: 5/25/2022 6:38:03 PM

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