Read the full article at U.S. News.
In many ways, Morgan Newman is having an ideal college experience. Of note, the 19-year-old junior at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee started her own student group – Black Girls Lift, which empowers young women through speech, sisterhood and exercise – and is a member of the multicultural leadership council.
"I enjoy Vanderbilt a lot," says Newman, who is double majoring in public policy and sociology. But there is one aspect of college life that is less than ideal: the lack of diversity within the faculty. The percentage of minority faculty at Vanderbilt, for example, is 17 percent, according to U.S. News data.
Newman says it's been challenging to find faculty members who look like her and share her interests, and she wishes she had considered faculty makeup during her college search.
"Being able to go to a faculty member who looks like you, who has probably had some of the same experiences that you face at a predominantly white institution is really important," says Newman, who is an African-American woman and has only had two African-American professors, so far, as an undergraduate.
At predominantly white schools, underrepresented minorities – who are black, Latino or Native American – often have to grapple with seeing few, if any, campus leaders who share their ethnicity and can personally relate to being different from most of their peers and campus community.
For Newman, she says, "It feels like you maybe won’t have, like, that kind of big support system."
Faculty members of color can be an asset inside and outside of the classroom, says Tabbye M. Chavous, a professor of education and psychology and director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor.
"Faculty of color provide students with diverse role models and help provide more effective mentoring to students of color," she wrote in an email. "Exposure in college to a diverse faculty along with diversified curricula and teaching methods produces students who are more complex thinkers, more confident in traversing cultural differences, and more likely to seek to remedy inequities after graduation."