The Service of Minority Faculty is Discounted and Undervalued in a Field Meant to Serve Students: Higher Education

I am currently writing about this for Presumed Incompetent II: Race, Class, Power, and Resistance of Women in Academia that will come out in 2020 because minority faculty tend to do more service and that service is often in support of minority students, yet our time and care for students are not counted for tenure and promotion. It is not valued for retention and advancement even though it goes to the heart of our role as educators. For some faculty of color, this labor is not “service” but one of the main reasons we dedicated our lives to higher education to begin with, and it can be difficult for us to “just say no” and close our doors—as we are often advised— to minority students, especially in historically white institutions who need additional mentoring. We need to have honest discussions about who is doing much of this labor or service while others are able to avoid it or benefit from the volunteer efforts of untenured minority faculty to support minority students. In many institutions, visiting and contingent faculty provide these essential functions of care to minority students, but then are not retained—thus, the ever revolving door of minority faculty who go in and out of students’ lives. What does it say about academia or your institution when you are willing to allow visiting and contingent faculty, or minority faculty on the tenure track to take on these responsibilities of care, while not valuing their contributions for retention or promotion? Also, if you are a PWI and your assistant professors are all white while your visiting professors are all minorities, it’s time to do some deep reflection on why that is…do you truly have a culture with colleagues that welcome difference in your department?