Dearth of Latino faculty mirrors national trends

Even as the University continues aggressive efforts to increase diversity in its faculty ranks, Latino professors remain a visible minority on campus — and not just at Yale, but in the rest of the higher education community as well.

Since 2005, when the Provost’s Office announced a seven-year Diversity Initiative to add 30 faculty members from underrepresented minority groups, Yale has hired 12 black professors. During the same period of time, the total number of Hispanic professors has actually declined, according to the University’s Office of Institutional Research. But according to administrators, the scarcity of Latino professors is not unique to Yale but rather, endemic to all of academia.

In the 2004-2005 school year, the University employed 17 tenured and 27 non-tenured Hispanic faculty members. This year there are fewer total Hispanic faculty: 18 tenured and 19 non-tenured, according to the OIR.

While the University uses the term “Hispanic,” also used by the United States government, to denote individuals of Latin-American and Iberian descent, the term “Latino” refers only to persons of Latin-American descent.

Judy Chevalier, deputy provost for faculty development, said the University has not succeeded in attracting substantial numbers of Hispanic professors, despite its efforts.

“Of course the progress has not been satisfactory,” Chevalier wrote in an e-mail. “The students are right to expect that Yale in 10 years should have many more Latino faculty than Yale has today.”

The number of Latino faculty at Yale is indicative of a reality — albeit a problematic one — within all of academia, Graduate School Dean Jon Butler said, and the problem is not unique to Yale. Yale and other universities hire so few Latino faculty members because there are only a limited number graduating from American graduate schools, he said. The solution lies in increasing the number of Latino graduate students, he said.

“It simply parallels the problem that academia has in general — of appealing to minorities of all kinds,” Butler said. “It’s one of the reasons we’re trying very hard to improve the diversity of the Graduate School [student body].”

Several Latino faculty members interviewed decried the scarcity of Latino professors as well as the pace at which they are recruited — which is “glacial,” according to anthropology professor Enrique Mayer.

Administrators and professors identified several barriers to increasing recruitment of Latino faculty. History professor Lillian Guerra said the University’s past reputation as unfriendly to minorities may hinder its current efforts to diversify.

“When I applied for this job, most people told me I was crazy to do so,” Guerra said. “They didn’t know anything about Yale other than it’s not hospitable. Connecticut is a very segregated state. Yale is a very segregated institution.”

Guerra said last year she encouraged two Latino academics to apply for positions in Yale’s history department, but that neither applied. She said she thinks their decision not to apply was the result of Yale’s reputation for being a frigid environment for minorities.

Guerra added, “Yale has been a leader in so many respects, and Yale needs to be a leader in this respect.”

Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said while he could not speak for the history of Yale, the University’s current stance is unequivocally pro-diversity.

“Colleges and universities that were not especially diverse historically could have been perceived as unwelcoming,” Salovey said. “But it seems to me our current Diversity Initiative and the manner in which it’s been embraced by everyone from [University] President [Richard Levin], the provosts and the deans communicates a different attitude — one that is welcoming.”

Some attribute the difficulty of convincing Latino professors to teach at Yale to factors beyond the University’s control. Mayer said Yale’s inability to attract Latino faculty may be due to the Elm City itself, which cannot compare to the Latino-heavy cultures of California and the Southwest.

“New Haven and Yale are not necessarily places where Latino culture dominates in the streets and the environment,” Mayer said.

About 12 percent of residents in New Haven County identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino, compared with 14 percent nation-wide, according to U.S. census figures.

Although the administration has been pushing for years for faculty searches that specifically target under-represented minorities, Salovey and Guerra said the Diversity Initiative can only succeed if individual departments embrace the idea of diversifying their ranks.

With the Latino faculty at Yale scarce, the Latino professors who are here may find themselves overburdened by student advisees looking for academic role models of their own ethnicity.

Guerra said the majority of students in her classes are from minority groups and that approximately 30 percent of her advisees come to her because she can identify with them ethnically.

“I have had students who have not taken my classes and who come to me for academic advice, only because they know I’m Latina,” Guerra said.

Elisa Gonzalez ’11, who is Puerto Rican, said there is a strong need for Latino faculty members to mentor students.

“If you’re a Latina student like me thinking about going into academia, they provide not only a role model but also someone who can tell you about the challenges you might face … going into academia,” Gonzalez said.

Still, Chevalier said the University has a responsibility to recruit more Latino graduate students in addition to faculty members. She pointed out that only a small proportion of Ph.Ds awarded each year go to Latino candidates across the country.

Jorge Bravo, a Latino graduate student at Duke University who will assume a post as assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles next fall, agreed that the lack of slow of Latino faculty may be more a pipeline issue than because of a negative perception of Yale.

“For what it’s worth, I have an excellent opinion of Yale and New Haven,” Bravo wrote in an e-mail. “I in fact gave a talk at Yale a couple of years ago, and was well impressed with both Yale and New Haven. Every top university I know of struggles when it comes to recruiting Latino professors.”

Frustrated with the lethargic rate of recruitment of Latino professors, Latino student groups have united with other minority organizations with the common goal of expanding the number of minority faculty.

Adriana Garcia ’08, a member of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, said the group has held ongoing discussions addressing the lack of Latino professors over the past few years.

Campus student groups such as Dwight Hall, the Association of Native Americans at Yale, Asian Student Association and MEChA are planning to host an Ivy League conference next fall to discuss the need for an increase in the number of minority faculty and the importance of ethnic studies programs.

Elizabeth Gonzalez ’10, a MEChA member who is organizing the conference, said the goal will be to help minority students discuss different approaches to addressing such issues at their own schools.

Still, within Yale, productive collaboration among student groups remains in its early stages.

“This is becoming a very strong issue in the Native American community,” she said. “Hopefully, we’re going to be able to start collaborating with the Native American and Asian-American students to work as the pan-ethnic coalition.”

Garcia agreed. Student diversity far outstrips that of the faculty, she said..

“It’s time that we start looking into our classrooms and ask ‘Why is there not enough ethnic diversity, not just in the student population but also in the faculty?’ ” she said.

Garcia also noted that all Yale students would benefit from an increase in the number of Latino faculty, given the long-ignored role of Latinos in American history.

“It is essential to bring in the narratives of other ethnic communities that have been marginalized as the excerpts in history textbooks,” she said.


  • Bobby

    Not enough "Latino" University professors for the communists who run most Universities huh? It really is too bad that the main concern of the educrats isn't the quality of people who teach rather than their race. But with communism, well, you know, everything must be equalized. Right?

  • Bobby

    "Comments are moderated." When this comes from a University, than we already know that censorship exists, because in a free nation,respectfull of its citizens, ALL COMMENTS WOULD BE PRINTED. There used to be an expression in academia, which seems to have also been put aside, that "all knowledge, all views are relevant. What happened?

  • Realist

    While it may not be PC to say so, the reality is that this is simply a function of biology; IQ differentials among the races.

    Charles Murray's landmark book entitled, "The Bell Curve", conclusively showed there is indeed a wide disparity in IQ among different racial/ethnic groups. Many will claim the IQ tests are "racially biased", but if thats true, why do east Asians score higher than whites?

    Recently, co-discoverer of the DNA molecule, Nobel Laureate James Watson suggested we may indeed find a genetic basis accounting for the apparent IQ differential among racial/ethnic groups. For uttering this simple OBVIOUS truth, the Nobel Laureate was pillaged by the liberal media until he was "forced" to re-cant his statement and go into semi retirement.

    The average IQ of the UK white population has been set at 100. Northeast Asians, on average, have an IQ of about 103 while
    Ashkenazim Jews have been found to have the highest IQs on earth, a whopping 113. Interestingly, Sephardi Jews do NOT seem to have the intellectual prowess of their European brethren.

    Could this IQ differential between Ashkenazim and Sephardi Jews be the reason for the vast socio-economic disparity among the 2 Jewish groups within Israel?

    What's more, while northeast Asians only outscore whites on the analytical portions of IQ , they score poorly on verbal aspects of IQ. This is true even when the tests are conducted in native languages. On the other hand, Ashkenazim Jews outscore EVERYONE on earth on the verbal portion as well. Could this NOT account for the fact a whopping 1/4 of all law professors in the USA are Ashkenazim Jews?

    Frankly, the IQ "bell curve" hierarchy accurately predicts the socio-economic outcomes we see in society at large. Only those completely intoxicated with PC non-sense REFUSE to acknowledge this reality!

    Some may call me a "bigot" or "racist", but it seems to me that the real racism is designing social polices upon the fallacious assumption the races are of equal abilities when all empirical evidence suggests otherwise.

    I wish this were not so, but, it is! And the sooner policy makers acknowledge this, the better for all concerned!

  • legalatina

    THe problem starts with the fact that now Hispanics have the highest high school drop out rate and only a 47% graduation rate. The fact that there aren't any qualified candidates has nothing to do with has to do with the fact that this population isn't doing a good job of making sure kids are on the right track in high school for college studies and beyond. Perhaps the National Council of La RAZA should stop spending millions on pursuing rights for illegal aliens and instead start focusing on getting Hispanic families to make a "good" education a top priority for their families at a younger age.

  • Russell Sias

    The Negative Aspects of Multiculturalism
    © By Russell Sias

    In the United States, the issue of multiculturalism has been largely ignored. At the very least, it has either been inappropriately represented or misunderstood for years, perhaps both. As citizens, we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that diversity is a good thing for those within (and without) our country. In some instances, this is a correct and appropriate position for the citizens of our country to adopt, in others, it is not.

    In those instances where multiculturalism causes a division within the country, such as a specific group’s insistence to not speak the commonly accepted language, not support the same holidays, not share the attributes of the community across communities, cause isolationism between communities, narrowly define markets by cultural or geographic areas, or otherwise separate people into distinct groups having ultimately far different goals for their individual communities, multiculturalism will be devastating to any country. Multiculturalism boldly stands as an obstacle in the way of developing or sustaining common goals for a country when its individual communities do not have a common bond.

    Knowing a second language is one thing. Teaching our children the culture of our grandparents is a worthwhile endeavor. However, forcing one’s culture on a section of our community and isolating that segment from the general population is quite another. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize the hazards that we bring upon ourselves when we allow multiculturalism to rule our communities or even our nation. Do we want to allow a change in our land where, when we travel, we go from one community to another, speaking different languages, where the community is likely to be resentful of outsiders, where cultures do not mix, are not shared, and where people have nothing in common? Do we want to allow multiculturalism to segregate our country and then wonder if it will literally come apart as the Soviet Union has done? If the answer to these questions is no, then we must regain control of the many issues caused by our present attitude towards multiculturalism.

    In the fundamental characteristics that define one country from another, those characteristics that differentiate the country as a distinct group of unique people, those fundamental attributes that determines our collective individuality; and in fact, our very identity within the world community, multiculturalism is not a good thing. Left unchecked, multiculturalism will affect the fundamental beliefs of the country. It will increasingly become more and more detrimental; ultimately leading to a loss of the very culture that defines the country as a separate and distinct entity from other nations of the world. Coupled with a quiet invasion, multiculturalism allows takeover by a foreign power, just as surely as a less than adequate response to being taken over by violence and force.

    In this country, our makeup is founded upon waves and waves of immigrants. It is fitting that we encourage legal immigration within the bounds established by our laws. Without the controls of these limits set by our immigration laws, allowing for assimilation of the newly immigrated population, we will cause a fracture of the general population to the point that we will not be a united country, but a divided one. In the first 150 years of this country’s existence, every immigrant had a similar desire when it came to supporting America. Under the guise of multiculturalism, this is no longer the case.

    Abraham Lincoln said: A nation divided nation cannot stand. Multiculturalism clearly should be considered as being within the scope of this longstanding statement. In the 2004 Utah legislature, as it became apparent that a bill was going to fail to be brought to the floor for discussion, a group of Hispanics, in support of Mexican immigrants, gathered in the rotunda of the capitol building and chanted “Viva Mexico” for several minutes. These people clearly have missed out on the opportunity to be true Americans, and have misunderstood one of the major reasons for joining other Americans in being patriots within this great country. They have yet to understand the necessary lessons our immigrant forefathers learned as they strove to become an integral part of this “United” States.

    One of the results of multiculturalism is that current day immigrants are attempting to bring their culture and ways into this country. Hence, they have yet to transfer their allegiance to America, their new home. They deprive themselves of the very essence of what it means to be an American. Those who strive to impose their culture and their ways upon their new neighbors deprive themselves of much of the benefits they seek by immigrating and by not gaining an understanding of the concepts of a united America.

    Immigrants normally come from a less successful society than the one they are immigrating into. This goes without saying; after all, it is a major reason for their move in the first place. No one disrupts their family or contemplates a significant life style change without good cause. Immigration is not the result of the success of one country over another. Its cause is the relative failure of one country in comparison to another. People migrating to another country are doing so because first they are dissatisfied with their present situation, and they perceive that the new location to be a better environment in which to raise their family where they can have the hope of having a better life for themselves and their loved ones.

    It is not difficult to understand that multiculturalism supports many of the same aspects within the new culture as the one from which immigrants are attempting to flee. Immigrants recognize that the country they have deserted is less able to serve them, which is why they are striking out to better themselves, but via multiculturalism, they blindly insist on promoting many of the cultural problems they left, which can only bring about the ultimate restructuring of their new environment to be identical to that which has failed them and from which they are attempting to flee. Like the alcoholic, who knows that one drink leads to another, and that the result of that last drink is often negative and unwanted, the immigrant, in a similar fashion, wants to bring their failed culture with them, thereby corrupting their new environment with that which they are attempting to leave behind.

    When we look at today’s society, we see the insidious signs of multiculturalism everywhere around us. Unless we want a fractured and divided country where different languages are spoken, where anarchy reigns supreme, where people are pitted against anyone from different segments of our population, where one cannot feel free to come and go to other parts of the country or even of their own towns, then we must recognize the dangerous cultural aspects of multiculturalism and begin to eliminate these negative influences from our societies. Either we do this, or we will continue down the path to more and more separate and individual societies, instead of building a single and solid, united American society. Our community leaders, whether mayors, city council members, state legislators, congress, yes, even the president, must look at each and every ordinance, code, and law, to ascertain that it does not promote multiculturalism. Further, we must begin to strike down those codes and laws that presently encourage the negative aspects of multiculturalism in this great country.

    © Author grants permission to freely distribute; no modifications may be made without author’s written permission.

  • Bobby

    I don't agree with the biological theory of intelligence, or I should say, only up to a point. I have known very intelligent hispanic students, who obviously were talented in certain subjects, and not so much in others--much like everyone else. I knew one Mexican girl and a few boys that were way above average in Mathemtics, in fact excelled at it. On the other hand they were lazy in biology and didn't do well. My point above was simply that the leftists leanings of most Universities and their constant "programs" that try to "equalize" college admissions among all groups is the worst thing they could possibly do. Excellence, or the lack thereof, will create it's own way regardless of the group or race were taking into consideration. It is an insult to the idea of excellence, that certain groups of people "must" be given this that or the other job whether they are qualified or not.