The Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology is committed to developing products that will be actively used by psychologists involved in teaching, research, and practice and by others throughout the nation’s academic communities. Consequently, the Commission sought rigorous and broad comment on, and engaged in repeated revision of, its draft products. This included conducting symposia at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, where Commission members described the rationale for various products and handed out hundreds of draft copies of products with comment sheets. Based on these comments, draft products were revised and placed on the meeting agendas of all APA governance boards and committees with a request for comment. At APA’s biennial consolidated governance meetings, conference committees were conducted at which representatives from interested governance groups provided comment from their various groups. Comments also were solicited from the Commission’s monitors and panels of experts.

Soliciting and receiving thoughtful comment is a cumbersome and time consuming process. The Commission wishes to acknowledge the critical role that APA’s staff liaisons to the various governance groups played in ensuring that this process proceeded in an efficient and timely manner. The Commission wishes to provide special acknowledgement to the following Association staff who served on the Commission’s Staff Work Group and assumed responsibility for coordinating the efforts of their office or directorate with those of the Commission.

American Psychological Association of Graduate Students Office: Todd Mook
Education Directorate: Ed Bourg, PhD, Paul Nelson, PhD, and Jill Reich, PhD
Minority Fellowship Program: Ernesto Guerro and James M. Jones, PhD
Office of Ethnic Minority AffairsAlberto Figueroa-Garcia Bertha G. Holliday, PhD,
(Primary CEMRRAT Staff) Debra J. Perry, and Sherry T. Wynn
Practice Directorate: Marquette Turner
Public Communications Office: Pamela Willenz
Public Interest Directorate: Henry Tomes, PhD
Public Policy Office: Brian Smedley, PhD
Research Office: Sislena Grocer and Jessica L. Kohout, PhD
Science Directorate: Merry Bullock, PhD

Appreciation also is extended to Angela Miner and Joanne Zaslow, who provided graphic art and editorial assistance.


Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology

Richard M. Suinn, PhD, Chair
Professor of Psychology
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado

Diane Adams, PhD
Assistant Professor
California School of Professional Psychology at
Alameda Campus
Alameda, California

Martha E. Bernal, PhD
Professor of Psychology and Hispanic Research
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona

Cheryl A. Boyce, MA
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC

A. Toy Caldwell-Colbert, PhD
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
University of Illinois
Urbana, Illinois

Allen C. Carter, PhD*
Clinical Psychologist
Atlanta, Georgia

Victor De La Cancela, PhD
Salud Management Associates
Riverdale, New York

Hector Garza, MPH
Director, Office of Minorities in Higher Education
American Council on Education
Washington, DC

Robin J. Hailstorks, PhD
Professor and Chair of Psychology
Prince George’s Community College
Largo, Maryland

Arthur L. McDonald, PhD
Dull Knife Memorial College
Lame Deer, Montana

Manuel Miranda, PhD
Roybal Institute on Gerontology
California State University
Los Angeles, California

Hector F. Myers, PhD
Professor of Psychology
University of California at Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California

Edward G. Singleton, PhD
Consulting Psychologist
Baltimore, Maryland

Elizabeth Todd-Bazemore, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology
University of South Dakota
Vermillion, South Dakota

Ena Vazquez-Nuttall, EdD
Associate Dean and Director of the Graduate
School and Professor
Bouve College of Pharmacy & Health Science
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts

Reginald L. Jones, PhD, Member Emeritus
Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Special Education
and Director of the National Center for Minority
Special Education
Hampton University
Hampton, Virginia

* Prior to Dr. Carter’s appointment as a member of CEMRRAT, he served as the APA Board of Professional Affairs liaison to CEMRRAT.

Liaisons to the Commission

APA Board of Directors
Alice F. Chang, PhD
Clinical Psychologist
Tucson, Arizona

APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (BAPPI)
Eduardo S. Morales, PhD
San Francisco, California

APA Board of Educational Affairs
Pamela T. Reid, PhD
City University of New York
New York, New York

John Moritsugu, PhD
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, Washington

APA Board of Scientific Affairs
Merry Bullock, PhD
APA Science Directorate
Washington, DC

APA Policy and Planning Board (on rotating status)
Laura S. Brown, PhD
Seattle, Washington

Gloria B. Gottsegen, PhD
Boca Raton, Florida

Janet R. Matthews, PhD
Kenner, Louisiana

Dalmas A. Taylor, PhD
University of Texas
Arlington, Texas

APA Committee on Divisions and APA Relations
Paul Leung, PhD
University of Illinois at Urbana
Champaign, Illinois

APA Committee on Psychology and AIDS
John Anderson, PhD
APA Office on AIDS
Washington, DC

APA Science Student Council
Debra Shapiro Gill
Los Angeles, CA

American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS)
Lawrence Yang
Somerville, Massachusetts

Illinois Psychological Association
Charles Davis, PhD
Oak Park, Illinois

Center for Mental Health Services
Paul Wohlford, PhD
Psychology Education, CMHS
Rockville, Maryland

National Science Foundation
Wanda E. Ward, PhD
The Directorate for Education and Human Resources, NSF
Arlington, Virginia

Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology
Richard McCarty, PhD
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia

National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology (NCSSP)
Patricia Bricklin, PhD
Wider University
Chester, Pennsylvania

Ethnic Minority Concerns Committee of the American Psychological Society’s Student Caucus
Lynyonne Cotton
Washington, DC

About the Commission

The APA Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology (CEMRRAT) is a 15-member advisory and governance group. The Commission was established by the APA Board of Directors in 1994 in response to a prior Association resolution that identified "the recruitment, retention, and training of ethnic minorities in psychology as one of the Association’s highest priorities..." Members of CEMRRAT, who are representative experts from federal research and mental health agencies and various domains and levels of postsecondary education, were appointed by (then) APA President Ronald E. Fox, PhD. President Fox charged the Commission to assess the status of and barriers to the participation of persons of color in American Psychology, and to develop a 5-year plan to guide the Association’s efforts in this area.

The Commission’s activities were funded primarily by special allocations from the Contingency Funds of the APA Board of Directors and Council of Representatives. Additional funding was provided by the Association’s Public Interest Directorate and by the Center for Mental Health Services (#92-MF-01645701D). Still other support was provided by the 15 organizations and APA governance groups that funded liaisons to attend and contribute to CEMRRAT’s meetings.

The Commission’s efforts were characterized by processes of inclusion and strategic product development. Numerous mechanisms were developed for encouraging substantive and broad-based comment from the Association’s staff, governance boards and committees, and other groups and individuals with vested interests in CEMRRAT’s work. Strategic product development was the responsibility of the Commission’s three Work Groups on Education and Training, Faculty Recruitment and Retention, and Student Recruitment and Retention. Many of the specific products of these Work Groups are taking the form of an integrated series of informational booklets. This publication is one of the booklets in that series.

The Commission seeks to promote creative transformation of psychology’s educational pipeline (high school through postdoctoral and continuing education studies) in ways that will ensure that, in the very near future, the proportion of psychologists who are people of color (currently 5% to 6%) will dramatically increase, and all psychologists will demonstrate multicultural competence in training, research, and practice issues. The Commission believes that actualization of this vision of our future will require all entities of organized psychology to demonstrate a fundamental commitment to diversity that is evidenced by:

  • The strengthening of linkages among departments and programs of psychology with varying institutional missions and at all levels of education.

  • The creation of educational and professional environments that are inclusive and where diversity is valued as integral to the pursuit of excellence and the vigor of psychology in the 21st century.

  • The infusion of multicultural considerations into all areas and procedures of psychological research, curricula, training, and practice.

  • The strengthening of individual efforts and organizational and institutional strategies for increasing the number people of color who are recruited and retained in psychology’s educational pipeline.

The Commission hopes this publication will provide guidance towards such a future.

Bertha G. Holliday, PhD
CEMRRAT Staff Director and Director,
APA Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs


At its first meeting, held in December 1994, the Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology (CEMRRAT) members divided into three work groups to carry out their charges from the APA Council of Representatives and the Board of Directors. These groups were: Faculty Recruitment and Retention, Student Recruitment and Retention, and Education and Training. This publication is the work of the Faculty Recruitment and Retention Work Group.

The Faculty Recruitment and Retention Work Group’s charge was to develop activities, plans, responsibilities, and target dates for improvement of recruitment, retention, and advancement of ethnic minority faculty members in order to increase ethnic minority representation at all ranks in academic psychology. The Work Group considered several methods for achieving these goals. One method this Work Group selected was the development and packaging of a set of guides to aid interested departments, programs, and schools of psychology in enhancing ethnic minority faculty recruitment and retention. These guides address the following:

  1. Valuing cultural diversity in faculty,

  2. How to recruit and hire ethnic minority faculty candidates,

  3. How to survive as an ethnic minority faculty.

This is the first of these guides.

Goals of This Publication

There is wide variability in the extent to which departments and programs of psychology have made strides toward cultural diversity. Consequently, their needs with respect to recommendations such as are offered in this guide also will vary. Nevertheless, the guide’s goals, strategies, and suggestions have wide and general applicability to the task of promoting cultural diversity in psychology training settings. Because psychology training takes place in departments of psychology, schools of psychology, and psychology programs set in units such as schools of education and medical school campuses, in this publication, the term "training program" will be used henceforth to designate any or all such settings.

The major goal of this publication is to provide the reader with information that has direct implications for the attitudes, values, and behaviors of faculty relative to cultural diversity. Although diversity is often an implicit value of training programs today, it may be helpful to review certain topics. Such a review helps to confirm a program’s foundation for increasing diversity as a prelude to adopting specific recruitment procedures. Specific goals of this guide are to:

  1. Present the advantages of cultural diversity for the greater society and for the academic workplace;

  2. Describe various individual differences in cultural characteristics and identity among ethnic minority faculty and suggest some implications of these characteristics for faculty recruitment;

  3. Identify key elements of a supportive academic environment that enhance recruitment and retention;

  4. Emphasize the importance of plans one should consider for creating an academic climate that values cultural diversity as a prerequisite to the recruitment and retention of ethnic minority faculty;

  5. Provide some guidelines for assessing the commitment of an institutional administration to promoting cultural diversity;

  6. Identify some issues, pitfalls, and problems relating to affirmative action and faculty diversification and suggest some solutions; and

  7. Suggest some concrete actions that one can take to increase the responsiveness of a training program to cultural diversity.

A General Recommendation

From the outset, in any plan to recruit and hire faculty, academic departments and educational programs should seek the guidance and advice of their campus affirmative action office or the equivalent.

Increasing Cultural Diversity

Why Should a Faculty Seek To Diversify?

Moral and social motivations for fostering diversity have been supplemented by a pragmatic understanding that growing disparities between minority and nonminority citizens will have grave economic and other consequences for the future of this country, a theme that is elaborated in Educating one-third of a nation: The conference report (American Council on Education, 1988). Application of this line of thinking to psychology should be based on pragmatic considerations in addition to the correction of past imbalances.

At least five pragmatic considerations are applicable to psychology. Within each of the following considerations, the contributions of minority psychologists will vary across their educational, scientific, and applied roles.

Academic excellence. The first reason for faculty diversity is to ensure a broad representation of viewpoints, paradigms, and content expertise. The dominant paradigms in psychology have been developed within a fairly homogeneous Anglo European cultural context.

Culturally diverse faculty and students are more likely to have different perspectives and paradigms and can improve and enrich our field of knowledge and increase the ecological validity of research on ethnic minorities. By studying populations that have been previously overlooked and ethnicity variables that are just as relevant as age, gender, and socioeconomic status, ethnic minority research can stimulate methodological innovation, broaden the range of research questions addressed, and improve the accuracy of psychological conclusions and generalizations in the literature. Infusion of new, alternative paradigms is important to a dynamic, expanding psychology.

In their educational roles, ethnic minority faculty can be valuable resources for educating others about sociocultural differences that should be considered in the understanding of client and research populations. In applied work, diverse faculty can bridge the gap between research on minorities and its application in service settings and suggest and model culturally sensitive approaches to clients.

In the same way that women in psychology have contributed to the quality of psychological knowledge, education, and application, ethnic minorities bring their respective different life experiences to the discipline and introduce new pedagogies and ways of thinking about human behavior which promote academic excellence in the preparation of psychologists for research, teaching, and service. Even beyond their contribution to academic excellence, culturally diverse faculty who bring creative approaches and fresh viewpoints and perspectives can contribute immeasurably to a department’s effectiveness.

Changing demographics. The second consideration concerns the changing demographics of the United States, specifically, a sharp rate of growth in the ethnic minority population. Today, one in four citizens is of ethnic minority background. Soon after the beginning of the next century, one in three will be ethnic minority, then one in two, and, finally, by the year 2050, minorities will constitute 50% of the population (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995). In parts of the country, people of color already constitute the majority of the population. Thus, ethnic minorities represent a substantial part of the citizenship of this country.

Changing demographics means that ethnic minority students will form more of our student bodies in colleges and universities. Culturally diverse faculty will be better able to enhance active learning by attending to the background of students and promoting preparation of students by offering role models and mentors who will communicate the possibility of success to students and share the students’ world views. The presence of minority faculty attracts minority students in programs, and vice versa (e.g., Bernal & Castro, 1994, Hills & Strozier, 1992). Thus, attention to students’ ethnicity is essential as a means of attracting good students who are likely to seek schools with minority student and faculty representation. Failure to attract minority students limits the available pool of future faculty and reduces the attractiveness of a program to potential future minority faculty.

Multicultural competence as an ethical imperative. Irrespective of their choices of career setting, our graduates will work with ethnic minorities. This outcome is guaranteed even for our nonminority graduates because of the probability that the future supply of ethnic minority psychologists will be insufficient to meet the research, teaching, and service needs of the ethnic minority population (Bernal & Castro, 1994). Various ethical imperatives and guidelines have pressed for training that promotes the effectiveness of psychologists in service and research with ethnic minority populations (e.g., APA, 1990; Korman, 1976; President’s Commission on Mental Health, 1978; Ridley, 1985; Tapp, Kelman, Triandis, Wrightsman, & Coelho, 1974).

Despite these pressing needs, however, recent data suggest continuing deficiencies in our field in providing multicultural training (Bernal & Castro, 1994; Hills & Strozier, 1992; Rogers, Ponterotto, Conoley, & Wiese, 1992; Suarez-Balcazar, Durlak, & Smith, 1994). Therefore, diversified faculty are necessary to contribute to graduate curricula that prepare all trainees to be multiculturally competent.

Ethnic minority human resources are vital to the nation’s economic health. A fourth pragmatic reason for diversifying faculty relates to the economic well-being of the entire country. Simply put, it is a threat to everyone that a part of our ethnic minority population continues to be the least educated and at the highest risk for mental illness in our nation. Consider the loss of productivity and the corresponding economic consequences of our failure to make full use of this vast resource of people. Universities must share responsibility with other educational systems for preparing ethnic minorities to become a successful and integral part of our society. Academic psychology shares that responsibility with other disciplines. Furthermore, because of psychology’s focus on the study and understanding of human behavior, our field has the capacity to promote the educational achievement and mental health of our citizens.

The financial stabilization of our universities. The financial health of university programs may be in jeopardy because of economic forces. Therefore, a final pragmatic reason for diversifying faculty relates to the recruitment of students of color for their contribution to the financial health of the university. For many institutions, maintaining a stable enrollment is becoming increasingly difficult.

Even with the increasing numbers of minorities in the general population, the distribution of minority students in postsecondary institutions is uneven. Some institutions attract and enroll more minorities than others for various reasons. Although geographic location is partly the explanation, another reason involves whether the institution is perceived as being an attractive environment by a potential minority student. The presence of minority faculty and staff is one sign of a compatible environment that encourages a prospective minority student to consider enrolling.

How Does Cultural Diversity Affect the Faculty Workforce?

It may not be immediately apparent to all faculty in a program that cultural or ethnic background may lead to differences in work ideologies and perspectives. The following set of questions may identify differences among nonminority faculty: (1) Do you see yourself as having an individual cultural identity? (2) How does your cultural identity affect your work and career, i.e., how have you integrated your cultural identity into the courses you teach, your theoretical views, and your research interests? (3) What are some examples of how the cultural or ethnic identities of your faculty peers generate individual differences in their work and career? Since complete ethnic homogeneity is unlikely among the faculty, their responses can be a basis for discussion about how their ethnic identities and other cultural characteristics are related to their professional interests, including the courses they are capable of enhancing, the research topics to which they can contribute expertise, and the direction of their writing.

Similarly, across ethnic minority groups, differences in cultural characteristics exist which have to be considered in understanding the groups’ professional motivations, goals, and interests. The following subsections contain information about some possible origins, experiences, and cultural characteristics of ethnic minority people that may identify individual differences among ethnic minority faculty.

Because these differences have implications for individuals’ research, service, and teaching interests, taking the time to understand the differences may help a university select appropriate faculty members for particular positions.

Ethnic group differences. First, most of us are aware that the term "ethnic minority" does not represent a homogeneous group of people of color. Ethnic minorities represent a range of racial, cultural, and linguistic groups that originated in countries located across vast expanses of the world, from Asia to Africa to Latin American countries and parts of the United States.

Differences also exist in immigration patterns, past and present, and in minority groups’ history of contact and interaction with nonminority people. The minority groups may have come to this country voluntarily, as political or economic refugees, or in servitude. Some are recent immigrants, while others have been here for one or more generations.

Enculturation and acculturation. It is generally understood that ethnic minority people have undergone varying types and degrees of ethnic socialization, or enculturation, within their own ethnic families and groups, consequently, their personal heritage represents a range of cultural characteristics, from traditional to modern. Because of these enculturative differences, and because most ethnic people undergo some degree of cultural change because of acculturation to the host society, there may be great within-group differences in the cultural characteristics of individuals from the same ethnic minority group.

Ethnic identity. One cultural characteristic that merits particular attention is the individual’s ethnic and racial identity, which sometimes is overlooked. There are ethnic minority faculty who strongly identify with their cultural group who may wish to work with and be of service to their own people. This may be the case even in ethnic group members who maintain few cultural traditions, or behaviors, or who do not speak their ethnic language. On the other hand, some people of color may not identify as members of their ethnic group and may not wish others to consider them as ethnic minority group members. Faculty of color will vary widely in their ethnic identities, and such differences may have implications for their teaching, mentoring, research, and other roles.

Ideological differences. Associated with these intragroup differences in cultural characteristics are ideological differences based upon the individual’s history and experience as an ethnic minority group member living in this country and interacting with nonminority group members. Individuals who have experienced discrimination and prejudice, and perhaps poverty as well, may possess a sensitivity and understanding about how it feels to be the underdog and a second class citizen. This sensitivity may lead to an awareness of social inequities and attitudes and to a strong desire to change certain aspects of the host society so as to promote positive interethnic, intercultural relations and reduce discrimination. Such ethnic minority cultural perspectives, values, and life experiences may create intellectual paradigms for understanding human behavior that are uncommon in the psychological literature, but which are important contributions to psychology. Finally, life experiences of educational and economic disadvantage within a dominant cultural surround may lead the ethnic minority psychologist to value research or services which are problem-oriented, applied, and concerned with contextual issues.

Implications of the Differences for Faculty Selection

Individual ethnic minority faculty, therefore, may vary greatly in their generational status, language background, cultural values, ethnic identity, and ideologies. A strong cultural identity or certain life experiences could shape a minority person’s research, service, and teaching interests. Taking the time to determine a minority person’s cultural identity as an individual can be of great value. Exploring such an individual’s distinctiveness can promote communication and understanding between that individual and program faculty. Candidates who experience the interest and respect of interviewers regarding their cultural distinctiveness and career interests are more likely to share their hopes and expectations about the kinds of positions that best attract them. Furthermore, such discussion will permit a program to assess the candidate’s match to its anticipated goals as they involve diversity assignments.

What Attitudes and Behaviors Reflect How a Faculty Values Diversity?

The program climate. The presence of a program climate that values cultural diversity should be confirmed long before a position is advertised. Experts have identified a climate in which there is respect and support as the single most important factor in the retention and promotion of ethnic minority faculty (University of Wisconsin System, 1990). More specifically, the factor should include respect and support for the perspectives of male and female faculty of color and for their possible applied, problem-oriented, and basic science-oriented interests as these relate to program objectives. While, typically, programs with the kind of positive climate that successfully retains ethnic minority faculty are those that already practice respect and support toward all faculty, display of similar behaviors and attitudes regarding cultural diversity is important and likely to have positive effects for all faculty.

Supportive program faculty behaviors. The atmosphere of a program should be congruent with the contributions expected of the newly hired faculty. This should be the case whether the new person is hired to strengthen an experimental laboratory, a specific research area, or cultural diversity. The book entitled "Retaining and promoting women and minority faculty members" (University of Wisconsin System, 1990) defines a supportive environment. Here, program faculty accept responsibility for nurturing and mentoring junior ethnic minority scholars so as to facilitate their development. Supportive programs can reduce teaching loads when it is useful, provide research assistants at critical stages, and promote collaborative research, cross-fertilization of research ideas, and collegiality in various ways. Their senior faculty willingly serve as mentors to junior faculty who can choose from among them. Effort is made to foster involvement and social bonding by: alerting faculty to prospective opportunities for research with other faculty who have common interests, facilitating collaborative arrangements with community agencies/settings, and assigning faculty to service committees and on-campus support networks, while protecting minority junior faculty members from service overload.

Supportive programs recognize that some groups are especially underrepresented in psychology, for example, that substantially more Asian American males than their female counterparts are hired as faculty (American Psychological Association, 1995). They are sensitive to the fact that, in general, ethnic minority faculty women have the highest departure rate from academia (Svoboda, 1990) and that they need to attend to issues related to both their work and their family. Such sensitivity may be shown through faculty advocacy for progressive university policies that assist faculty such as affordable child care and other family services. Supportive programs also search for and institute methods for the real integration and empowerment of ethnic minority women in the training program and the university.

In supportive environments, performance reviews are an ongoing process in which junior faculty members are kept well informed in annual reviews about tenure expectations and receive clear feedback on their past progress and on future expectations. Sound basic and applied research related to race and ethnicity is valued, and productivity in these areas is rewarded. These are also programs that appreciate the extra effort sometimes required to combine diverse aspects of theories and methodologies, or to search for strategies for gaining entry into diverse community settings. Similarly valued are contributions to new pedagogies and courses that educate students about psychological issues pertaining to diverse populations. Suitable credit is given for special efforts to promote cultural diversity, e.g., preparation of multicultural training grant proposals, organizing a research conference that deals with ethnic minority issues, preparation of innovative course syllabi, etc. Similarly, institution/community service responsibilities related to the faculty member’s minority status are considered in review.

Programs that already have diversified their faculty and curriculum and created a supportive environment for ethnic minority scholars will be in a better position to attract other such scholars than programs that have not had such success. On the other hand, a program may be highly attractive even if it is in the beginning stages of cultural diversification and in need of expert guidance to develop a suitable climate. When a program has sincere and ambitious plans for creating a promising environment, the chance to be on the ground floor can have high appeal to ethnic minority faculty (University of Wisconsin System, 1988).

What Are the Expectations for Minority Faculty Roles?

Responsibility for cultural diversity. It is important for faculty to clarify the mutal responsibilities of all faculty with respect to ethnic minority issues. In the ideal case, all faculty will assume responsibility for competent teaching, research, and services with ethnic minority populations. It is not suggested, however, that every faculty person should be an expert on ethnic minority issues. Ethinic minority faculty should act as resources or facilitators on cultural diversity and should not be required to act as the conscience of the program. Nonminority faculty can be involved in minority activities in varying meaningful ways that lead to their being better informed and more aware of multicultural training issues. For example, they can co-teach minority-related courses with minority faculty, take continuing education courses that lead to the integration of multicultural content in their own exisiting courses, become involved in conducting minority student recruitment fairs, and serve on minority program advisory committees, etc. Regular review of these responsibilities and reassignment as needed may be required.

How Can It Be Determined if the Administration of the Institution Is Supportive of Cultural Diversity?

Even though the training program is strongly dedicated to diversity, institutional administrators will vary in the degree and quality of support that they provide for the diversification of faculty on their campuses. On some campuses, administrators practice what they preach by acting in ways consistent with their requirements that ethnic minority faculty be hired; in others, they do not. The wise training program seeks to assess the nature of this commitment prior to beginning its recruitment efforts and as part of its climate improvement. Because behavior is a good indicator of commitment, your faculty may wish to ask the following questions which have been suggested in Achieving Faculty Diversity (University of Wisconsin System, 1988).

  1. What is the ethnicity and gender composition of people in the top administrative ranks in the institution?

  2. In their public pronouncements, have the administrative leaders made positive statements about cultural diversity as a core component of educational priorities for the campus?

  3. Do the administrators work closely and regularly with departments on campus to identify candidates and promote their recruitment?

  4. Does the administration have an ambitious and comprehensive plan, with goals and timetables, for addressing cultural diversity in faculty hiring?

  5. Does the administration have a similar plan for increasing minority representation throughout the educational pipeline that begins at the precollege level and continues to the postdoctoral level?

Should it be found that the answers to these questions indicate minimal support for faculty diversification among the administration of the institution, it is time to plan strategies for increasing their responsiveness. On the other hand, if your institution is firmly supportive of your goals, you can feel free to seek added help or recognition for your efforts.

Some Problems, Pitfalls, and Solutions in Faculty Diversification Efforts

How Clear is the Program’s Recruitment Approach About Affirmative Action Versus Equal Opportunity?

Despite much talk and media coverage about affirmative action and equal opportunity, many people do not grasp the meaning of the terms and the distinction between them. In a published interview, Director of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Barbara Mawhiney of the Arizona State University campus made this distinction: "Affirmative action is the positive steps that you take to provide equal opportunity. Equal opportunity is not using race, sex, age, religion, national origin, etc., as a factor in an employment or educational decision" (Callarman, T., 1995).

Dr. Mawhiney goes on to clarify that so long as the reasons for hiring someone have nothing to do with these factors, equal opportunity has been provided. To make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to a position, especially one of leadership such as a faculty opening, there are additional activities—describing the job, specifying the qualifications deemed necessary to perform it, and advertising in a wide range of places where potential applicants may learn about it.

In academia, affirmative action also is taken with respect to the hurdles of tenure or promotion by means of activities designed to make everyone feel they can achieve if they perform acceptably according to a system of measurable and objective criteria. When the issue of preference has arisen, it has been because something may have been done for one group that was different from what was done for another group to assure that everyone has had an equal opportunity. However, because people have different backgrounds and opportunities, additional efforts may have to be made to familiarize one group of people about an opening or to help them establish networks that are professionally supportive. These same efforts do not have to be made for other groups that are easily reached and more easily integrated into the professional network. Such efforts are still appropriate for ethnic minority populations.

What Arguments Can Counter the Claim that Affirmative Action Goals Have Been Achieved?

Some administrators and faculty question the need for efforts to increase the proportion of ethnic minority faculty in academic psychology. They point to the fervor of the current Republican Congress to end affirmative action policies, the California Board of Regents’ cancellation of affirmative action in admissions and hiring on University of California campuses, and legal challenges designed to weaken affirmative action. There may even be echoes of these views already rumbling within your own legislative and Board of Regents or governing board. They also point to the increasing visibility of ethnic minorities in the field as indicating an increase in role models and mentors in the workplace, and they suggest that diversification is neither necessary nor legally required.

Despite legal and other attitudinal changes toward ethnic minorities, the goals of equal representation of minorities in academia have not been achieved. In psychology, recent figures on ethnic minority faculty suggest that large proportions of departments and programs have no minority representation, or only one or at best two minority faculty members (Bernal & Castro, 1994; Jones, 1990). Minority faculty are still underrepresented in entry-level positions and even more so in senior ranks. Hence, if equal representation is the primary motivation, more, rather than fewer activities are needed.

Even without the legal requirements of affirmative action serving as our conscience and motivating force, the pragmatic arguments presented earlier are still significant. Without affirmative action as justification, we are even more confronted with the objective rationale for valuing diversity, i.e., arguments regarding academic excellence, the changing demography, educational needs, and economic endangerment, and these become increasingly compelling. As the minority population continues to grow, psychology training programs, particularly those situated in large urban centers, will soon experience the keenest competition yet for the inadequately small pool of available ethnic minority faculty. In the meantime, failure to press with greater effort and diligence for faculty diversification in psychology has resulted in the prevalence of the token ethnic minority in our training programs.

What Problems Are Created by Tokenism?

Tokenism, defined in terms of numerical representation, varies depending upon the size of the program. In medium-sized and larger programs, one or two ethnic minority faculty members may constitute tokenism. Tokens are often hired by programs whose hiring practices reflect only minimal intent to meet affirmative action requirements. Although one or two such faculty are better than none at all, there are serious costs to all concerned in programs that create token minorities. Research on the effects of tokenism has described the negative and stressful consequences to individuals who occupy a solo status in an organization (Bernal, 1994; Kanter, 1977; Yoder, 1985). These consequences include being evaluated more critically in terms of job performance, being perceived in terms of racial and ethnic stereotypes, and being seen as having been hired because of affirmative action guidelines rather than because of competence (Gutierrez & Saenz, 1994; Morland, 1965). The effects of these stresses are to produce social isolation, to reduce the performance effectiveness of ethnic minority faculty, and to undermine the ethnic minority faculty’s capacity to portray positive role models. Thus, the costs of tokenism accrue to the training program, to individual minority faculty members, to the minority and nonminority students who might benefit from viewing these faculty as positive role models and mentors, and to the general public.

What are Some Problems and Pitfalls Created by the Expectation That Minority Faculty Take Charge of "Minority Things"?

In some programs, it is expected that minority faculty teach multicultural courses, recruit and mentor minority students, prepare minority training applications, give guest lectures on minority topics, represent the program at meetings about minority issues, serve on search committees requiring minority representation, and so on—that is, single-handedly bear the burden of culturally diversifying the training program. Although many ethnic minority faculty may experience a powerful desire to do the "minority things" that stem from their ethnic identity, as noted above, the combination of program pressure to do them and a strong ethnic conscience can be harmfully entrapping for the faculty member.

This entrapment occurs because of several contextual features of programs. One such feature is the existence of an attitude among some faculty that the ethnic minority faculty member ought to be taking care of his or her people. The entrapment is especially harmful to minority faculty when, in response to the double press of program expectations and their conscience, they spend the major part of their time and efforts immersed in multicultural activities and neglect their research and publication activities. In other words, they hear that the program wants them to engage in multicultural activities, and because they are compelled by their ethnic conscience, they proceed to do so with the understanding that it is what they should be doing. They often find that their efforts are not valued in the tenure and promotion review process.

Suinn and Witt (1982) have described the double jeopardy that results for ethnic minority faculty when the reasons they are recruited become the barriers to being retained. The likelihood that this dilemma especially affects young untenured faculty has been supported by Hills and Strozier (1992), who reported that assistant professors carried most of the burden for multicultural activities in counseling psychology. However, ethnic minority faculty members at any rank may be caught in this trap. It is not the only cost for the ethnic minority faculty; other costs include being excluded from access to resources and opportunities for exchange with colleagues and being the unpopular member of the faculty who in a tiresome way is always bringing up issues pertaining to minorities.

What are Some Possible Faculty Resistances to Diversity?

If the training program has been successful in hiring ethnic minority faculty, there doubtless are some things they are doing right, and effective methods should be identified. However, even if they were able to hire an ethnic minority faculty member, if the member didn’t stay long, it behooves the faculty to identify the factors that resulted in poor retention. Some factors leading to poor retention may have much in common with factors that impede faculty diversification in departments. The specific steps that the faculty took in the recruitment and retention process and their outcomes are worth reviewing because it is possible to learn something important about how the program deals with faculty diversification. Among the factors are a basic resistance by faculty to any move toward diversity.

Identifying such resistance may be difficult because the reasons for lack of success toward diversity seem so reasonably stated. In the guidebook Achieving faculty diversity (University of Wisconsin System, 1988), various university faculty and administrators are quoted regarding their colleagues’ attitudes toward faculty diversification. A summary of some of those comments—some representing simple pessimism, some representing a more basic negativism—are worth reviewing here.

The report indicates that often a mindset prevails among faculty that: (1) educational standards of excellence are compromised when there is pressure to diversify faculty ("hiring a minority will lower our standards"), and (2) there are many reasons, including scarcity, lack of qualifications, and demand, why such faculty cannot be found, or hired ("we can’t find any"). Such pessimistic attitudes and opinions can have a detrimental effect on recruitment and retention and will prevent a program from broadly defining positions or recruiting creatively to capture the widest pool of excellent candidates.

Indeed, the ability to adopt a more optimistic and flexible attitude can precipitate greater success. Achieving faculty diversity requires extraordinary, continuing efforts and a positive attitude that ethnic minority faculty can be found and hired. (University of Wisconsin System, 1988). It takes an honest, thoughtful self-examination by faculty and administrators of their prevailing beliefs about cultural diversity and a willingness to set faculty diversification as a top priority. Such commitment will result in large-scale efforts to expand the pool of candidates and the evolution of meaningful and aggressive recruitment strategies. Further, appropriate planning will mean that the recruitment interview will be sensitively structured to communicate the acceptance and interest of the campus community, the attractive features of the position, and the best assets of the institution. These ingredients of successful recruitment have been described in greater detail elsewhere (e.g., University of Wisconsin System, 1988; 1990) and are the topic of CEMRRAT’s next publication, How to recruit and hire ethnic minority faculty.

Some Concrete Actions for Implementing Cultural Diversity in the Program and University

The willingness of your training program’s faculty and the administrators to examine their commitment to the value of cultural diversity in their teaching, service, and research mission is an essential and powerful ingredient in the success of efforts to diversify the faculty. Reasons for cultural diversification, attitudes, and values that may impede diversification, and expectations about ethnic minority faculty and their roles in the program and university merit scrutiny. Effectiveness in faculty diversification is an outcome of intensive, long-term efforts and careful planning on the part of academic units and administrators to create appropriate academic climates as a prerequisite to the recruitment and retention of ethnic minority faculty. Specific suggestions for implementing these efforts are as follows.

Valuing Diversity in the Training Program

  • In a series of meetings with your faculty, discuss and explore their views of the value of cultural diversity as it affects the diversification of faculty. Include the meaning and implications of the terms "affirmative action" and "equal opportunity" and resistances to and advantages of faculty diversification.

  • Contact other programs in your institution to determine what advantages they see in minority faculty recruitment and retention efforts and as sources of further insights and ideas for promoting diversification in your program. Alternately, contact programs external to your institution or contact the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology (COGDOP), or the National Council of Schools of Professional Psychology (NCSPP).

  • Identify both short-term and long-term changes that are desirable in your training program to develop a departmental climate that is supportive of culturally diverse faculty.

Building a Supportive Academic Climate

  • Network with chairs, program directors, and faculty at other institutions that are known to have large numbers of ethnic minority faculty and thus may provide important suggestions about how to create a more supportive program climate.

  • Distribute copies of the University of Wisconsin System’s report Achieving faculty diversity for discussion with your faculty and recruitment committee.

  • Distribute copies of the Survival guide to academia for women and ethnic minorities (American Psychological Association Committee on Women in Psychology, 1992) to your recruitment committee.

  • Contact the APA Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs for possible consultation.

Dealing With Common Resistances

  • Assess the attitudes of the faculty/training program with regard to diversity, e.g., by doing an anonymous survey or chairing a discussion session. Do stereotypes exist? Are your faculty members open to change?

  • Identify the arguments or obstacles the faculty or recruitment committee would raise at using cultural diversity as a priority in recruitment (e.g., inability to locate a pool of qualified candidates, reverse racism, etc.).

  • Examine these arguments on the basis of criteria such as, "Are they reasonable, and do they represent obstacles which can be overcome?" and "Are they reasonable, but cannot be overcome?" and "Are the arguments a reflection of attitudes, and possibly unreasonable?"

  • Contact other programs (internal and external to your institution) to determine how they have overcome obstacles in faculty attitudes about cultural diversity that are basically unreasonable.

Dealing With Faculty Expectations about the Roles of Minority Faculty

  • Discuss with the faculty/training program their expectations regarding the role and functions of ethnic minority faculty that you might hire in the future. Discuss whether these differ from roles and expectations of nonminority faculty and reasons for any differences.

  • Discuss also the faculty’s views, and those of the administration, regarding how to evaluate minority faculty contributions to the cultural diversification of the program.

  • Ask the faculty to discuss ways in which their cultural identities affect their professional interests and work as an entry into discussion about individual differences among ethnic minority faculty and the ways that these might influence their contributions to the training program.

  • If there already is one ethnic minority faculty member, discuss advantages and disadvantages of continuing to diversify your faculty, both on a short-term as well as a long-term basis.

  • Conduct postrecruitment visit interviews with faculty of color who have been interviewed for positions in your training program to learn how your program is perceived by candidates.

Dealing With Administration Indifference to Faculty Diversity

  • Identify differences and similarities between your faculty’s views about faculty diversification and those of the administrative agents in your institution. If there are noticeable differences, plan a strategy for working to influence the administration to work with you on faculty diversification.

  • Determine how the institution encourages programs to hire minority faculty, e.g., some universities set aside positions and funds specifically for rewarding programs that give high priority to the hiring of faculty of color.

  • Identify colleagues in other programs on campus or elsewhere that are striving to influence their own administration regarding faculty diversification and learn what strategies they have used and how those strategies have worked for them.

  • Contact the American Council on Education for information and consultation.

  • Distribute copies of various publications, such as Achieving faculty diversity (University of Wisconsin, 1988), this guide, and others listed in the references section of this guide, to various administrators on your campus.


This guide has raised some issues and provided some suggestions that have wide and general applicability to the promotion of cultural diversity among faculty in psychology training settings and among administrators of institutions. Any plan to recruit and hire faculty must proceed with the guidance and advice of the campus affirmative action officer or the equivalent person.

Pragmatic reasons for diversifying your program faculty are: the academic excellence of your program, the changing demographics of this country, the ethical imperative of multicultural competence, the endangerment of the nation’s economic health because of the low educational achievement and high-risk mental health status of some members of minority groups, and the decreasing enrollment of students in financially endangered universities.

Building a program climate that values diversity before undertaking the process of hiring was recommended and it was suggested that programs consider relationships between the cultural identities of faculty and their professional interests and goals. The characteristics of programs that successfully hire, retain, and promote minority faculty were discussed, with primary emphasis on the value of cultural diversity as expressed through respect and support for the perspectives of male and female faculty of color. Then, questions were presented that faculty should ask regarding the extent of support of their institutions’ administrators for cultural diversity.

Some issues, problems, and pitfalls in faculty diversification were identified and clarified, including controversies about affirmative action and equal opportunity in academic settings, questions about the success of affirmative action in achieving its goals in academia, the consequences of putting minority faculty in charge of "minority things," and some common resistances to faculty diversification that lead to poor retention of minority faculty. Various solutions were offered for dealing with the issues and problems. Finally, a set of concrete actions were provided for implementing cultural diversity in training programs and universities.


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