By Dr. Kan Liang
FOR Northwest Asian Weekly
According to the recently published Almanac of Higher Education 2010, Asians make up 7.8 percent of all full-time university and college faculty, while Blacks make up 5.5 percent and Hispanics 3.6 percent. Among those who have full professor rank, Asians have more than Blacks and Hispanic combined (7.1 percent compared to 3.4 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively).
If you look at the rank of assistant professors, you will also find Asian faculty members are bigger in numbers: 10.5 percent (verses 6.5 percent Black and 3.8 percent Hispanic). This indicates that in the near future, Asians will grow even stronger in academics.
In contrast, at the instructor level, which generally means non-tenure or tenure-track faculty, Asians are fewer in number than both Blacks and Hispanics (5.3 percent compared to 7.5 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively). The same is true in the category of part-time instructional staff members (4.1 percent Asians compared to 8.0 percent Blacks and 4.4 Hispanics).
The explanation for this discrepancy could be that Asians, compared with Blacks and Hispanics, tend to attend more competitive graduate schools and obtain tenure-track positions afterward.
If one thinks that this phenomenon is a proof of success for Asians, think again. Because this is only one side of the story.
While Asians are quite successful in getting their foot in academics, they are doing poorly compared to Blacks and Hispanics in gaining political and administrative power. While Blacks occupy 9.8 percent of executive, administrative, and managerial positions in universities and colleges and Hispanic 4.7 percent, Asians make up only 3 percent. This shows that Asians are less active politically.
History shows that ethnic groups need to work and fight for their own interests. While we are proud of what we have done, we certainly need to see what needs to be done. ♦
Kan Liang, Ph.D. works at Seattle University, where he serves as associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.