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The Pipeline Problem

As "Shattering the Silences" makes clear, there are relatively few minority scholars on the faculties of American colleges and universities, and those few are under enormous pressure. At least in part, the situation results from what has been called "the pipeline problem," succinctly summarized in a report of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation:

"College presidents frequently cite [a] general decline in the numbers of minority students earning doctorates in the arts and sciences as the single greatest obstacle to their efforts to recruit more diverse faculties. . . . Several causes are often cited to explain the dearth of minority students enrolling in doctoral programs in the arts and sciences. Most basic is the small number of minority students at the earlier stages of the education pipeline: the underrepresented minority groups start out behind, in that significantly smaller percentages of them go to college and earn BAs--in part because of attrition at earlier stages in the educational process. The shares of all BAs earned by both African-Americans and Hispanics are less than half their corresponding shares of the college-age population. Statistics such as these justify major efforts to address the underlying problems that have affected minority groups at all levels of educational attainment. . . .

"At the college level, many of the most talented minority undergraduates, who come disproportionately from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, have opted for careers in business, law, or medicine. These professions offer better income prospects and also are seen by many as offering clearer opportunities for upward mobility. Moreover, minority students find few role models on arts and science faculties, and they are also less likely to have grown up knowing academicians as members of their families or communities."

And so the cycle continues. To help increase the flow through the pipeline, and to support those who have made it through, we have assembled resources ranging from career and financial-aid information for minority high-school students and their parents and counselors to professional organizations and opportunities for minority scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Click on one of the links below to get started.

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