CSM session focuses on getting, keeping multicultural professors and grad students

The Commission on the Status of Minorities’ session in Minneapolis was “Safe Places for New Faces: Attracting & Retaining a Diverse Faculty and Graduate Student Body.”

Getting multiracial profs ad grads is more difficult than it sounds, with racial clashes making headlines in higher education nationwide and historically underrepresented groups making up just 12.4 percent of faculty ranks and only 15 percent of doctoral students.

Those numbers are virtually unchanged over a 15-year span, meaning unless strong measures are taken to increase diversity in graduate student ranks, there is relatively little prospect for an increase in multicultural professors in the near future. There also is imbalance when sex is figured in along with race; minority Ph.D. aspirants are 2:1 female, a ratio that’s consistent at all levels of journalism & mass communication education.

CSM’s Planning Committee, made up of Osita Iroegbu, Maccamas Ikpah and Tony DeMars, brought together a first-rate panel of analysts for the session (download the AEJMC CSM Ad):

Deb Aikat, No. Carolina-Chapel Hill

Deb Aikat, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, highly active in research and AEJMC initiatives for many years. He said that international students, such as he had been some time ago, need encouragement in their studies and assistance in understanding U.S. academic requirements.

Julio Bermejo, Maryland, a veteran public relations practitioner and doctoral candidate who teaches PR writing and oral communication. Bermejo said today’s minority grads may be swayed more by culture and lifestyle of an institution than simply wanting the highest dollar figure for faculty openings.

Dorothy Bland, North Texas, dean of its Mayborn School of Journalism and a longtime newswoman and media administrator. She said administrators should keep track of grads and others coming through their schools who may one day be candidates for hard-to-fill openings.

Lillie Fears, Arkansas State

LaShonda Eaddy, Georgia, a doctoral candidate whose research interest is the impact of crisis history on publics’ emotions and perceptions of organizations experiencing crises. She has spent time as a practitioner in the health care industry. ​Eaddy said that graduate students look for mentors who can help them negotiate the often-difficult modern institution of higher education and assist them not only in classes but with research and transitioning to faculty status.

Lillie Fears, Arkansas State, a university-wide assistant for diversity initiatives and diversity fellow ensuring equity in job candidate pools and search committees as well as a past head of AEJMC’s Minorities and Communication Division. She recommended developing a culture of outreach to area communities that is welcoming to local individuals of color and plants the idea of working at the university.

Kyle Huckins, CSM chairman, served as moderator. He is a veteran journalism educator, administrator and news professional who’s won several national and statewide awards for his secular newspaper column on faith often focusing on concerns of minorities due to his serving as clergy in the Church of God in Christ, a predominantly black denomination.

The commission’s business meeting immediately followed the panel session in the same room. CSM members approved a cut in graduate student dues to $5 a year, effective Oct. 1, 2016, and confirmed Osita Iroegbu, doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University, as the commission’s first graduate student coordinator.