COUNCIL For Discussion March 24, 1999
At the September 1998 meeting of University Council, minority recruitment and retention was identified as a "focus issue" for this year. Two broad areas of concern were raised: 1) the apparent lack of increase in under-represented minority groups at Penn; and 2) the question of whether Penn can maintain a competitive position in offering financial aid for minority students. The consensus was that these two issues should be discussed separately, with recruitment and retention of minority undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty being the subject of a full Council discussion as soon as the existing reports on the subject had been assembled. The information presented below is a compilation of the most recent data currently available.
--Phoebe S. Leboy, Member of the Steering Committee of Council
On Recruitment and Retention of Minority Faculty and Students
Given the size of the undergraduate student population, it becomes difficult to track sub-populations of students in a way which might give accurate information on minority student retention and career choices. However, the University and its peer institutions do maintain data on recruitment of minority students, and a summary of these data for 1998 is provided in Table I. The reader will bear in mind that this table provides only a one-year snapshot of Penn's students. In it, Penn is compared with its Ivy League counterparts in four ways: percent which is the lowest and highest value among the Ivies, and both the average and the median for all the Ivies.
The information for Asian-Americans indicates that Penn is the most attractive Ivy League institution for this group of applicants: the Ivy median is 18.8% but Penn's applicant pool contains 23.3% Asian-Americans. Penn also ranks at the top in admitting and matriculating Asian-American undergraduates. In contrast, the data for African-Americans and Latinos/as indicate some problems.
Penn attracts a relatively high percentage of African-American applicants; above the Ivy League average or median (although below the proportion in the US population). In addition, our 7.5% admission rate is higher than the 6% application rate. However, our admit rate for African-Americans is 1.6-2.1percentage points below the Ivy average or median, and the matriculation rate is comparably low. While this should be cause for concern, the data suggest that Penn's retention rate for African-American undergraduates may be better than most of the Ivies; our total enrollment percentage is the same as our 1998 matriculation rate while total enrollment values for the Ivy League are lower than the Ivy 1998 matriculation rate. However, in the absence of information on matriculation rates for other years and information about the effect of increased time to graduation on total enrollment, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about retention. Another factor which should have a major impact on these data is the financial aid packages. A report on financial aid as it impacts on minority student presence has been requested by University Council.
The situation with respect to Latino and Latina undergraduates is slightly different with respect to applications, but similar to African-Americans by other measures. Our 4.1% application rate, compared with the 5.2-5.4% rates for the Ivy group, indicates that this group perceives Penn as less attractive than most other Ivy League institutions. As with African-Americans, our admission rate for Latino students is 1.6-2.1 percentage points below the overall Ivy values, and our matriculation rate shows an even greater disparity between Penn and the total Ivy League. While the total Ivy data show that Latino and Latina undergraduates make up a smaller proportion of the total enrollment than would be expected by the 1998 matriculation rate, Penn's total enrollment of Latino students is the same as the matriculation rate. Also included in Table I is information on Native-American undergraduates; however, the numbers at Penn and most other Ivies seem to be too small to draw meaningful conclusions.
The last column in Table I provides data on the percentage of undergraduates who enrolled during five year period 1986-1990 and who graduated within 4 years. African-Americans and Latinos at Ivy League institutions apparently have lower 4-year graduation rates, but whether this results from increased time to graduation or increased drop-out rate is not clear from these data. It also appears that fewer Penn students graduate in 4 years than the Ivy norm, but the differences are greater for minority students than white students.
The Office of the Vice-Provost for Graduate Studies has provided information both on the proportion of minority students among the graduate student population for the past nine years (Table II) and Ph.D. degrees awarded to African-American and Latino students since 1985 (Table III). Since our university has large numbers of graduate students who come from foreign countries and, in many cases, return to their homes after receiving their degree, the data in both Tables II and III are limited to those minority students who are either US citizens or permanent residents. Table II shows two trends with respect to graduate student enrollment.
1) The total number of Ph.D. students enrolled at Penn has shown a significant decline during the '90s, and there are 21% fewer graduate students in 1998 than were enrolled in 1990. One factor contributing to this decline is the University's decision, in 1992, to increase funding per graduate student and finance it by decreasing the number of students supported. Enrollment therefore declined as programs continued to increase both the level and the time period of support for doctoral students.
2) The numbers of minority students have steadily increased during the same time period, with the result that there are 32% more minority Ph.D. students in 1998 than in 1990. The net effect of both of these trends is a marked increase in the proportion of U.S. minority students among our graduate student enrollment. Unfortunately, the data in Table II does not provide information about trends in Ph.D. enrollment for individual minority groups.
In contrast, Table III does supply information concerning Ph.D. degrees awarded for African-Americans and Latino-Americans, as well as information about minority student representation in each of the three broad groupings: Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences. As indicated in the table, these groupings include both Ph.D.'s awarded in SAS graduate programs and Ph.D.'s awarded in other schools at Penn. The numbers for '85-'90 are aggregates for 6 calendar years (18 commencements), while the data since 1990 is grouped in 2 year periods (6 commencements). The numbers within each disciplinary grouping are small, making it difficult to discern trends at this level, but it is clear that the numbers of African-American and Latino graduate student receiving Ph.D. degrees has been increasing in recent years. This is reflected in the fact that percent of Ph.D.'s awarded to African-American and Latino shows a continuous increase over the past 14 years.
Detailed information on the composition of the Standing Faculty (including Standing Faculty-Clinician Educator) has been compiled annually by the Provost's Office and Penn's Office of Institutional Research and Analysis since 1988. The data include, for each department at the University, information on the numbers of African-American, Asian-American, and Latino faculty at each rank, as well as analyses of new faculty hires in each department for the preceding 10 years. The most recent version of this Affirmative Action Report for the Current Standing Faculty was produced in 1998. It contains approximately 150 pages of information concerning the faculty at Penn in the '97 academic year.
Table IV presents a greatly condensed version of the data on composition of the faculty, in comparison with faculty composition in the '88 academic year. To conserve space, we have fo-cused on the undergraduate schools. Faculty in the professional schools are included only in the "All Schools" summary at the bottom of the table, and data for each professional school will be available at tomorrow's meeting of University Council. It is encouraging that, with a few exceptions, the number of minority faculty in each of the undergraduate schools has slightly increased in the '88-'97 period although the total size of the faculty has remained relatively stable (Wharton and Nursing) or declined (SAS and Engineering). Table IV reveals that the modest increase in undergraduate school minority faculty is, in large part, a reflection of increased numbers of Associate Professors: the aggregate number of African-American, Asian-American and Latino Associate Professors was 10 in 1988, and 27 in 1997.
Because the data in this table aggregates information from individual departments, it tends to obscure the fact that some departments had several minority faculty while other departments had few or none. There were 5 departments in SAS in which over 10% of their faculty was African-American, Latino or Asian-American in 1997, and 3 of these had at least 15% minority faculty. However, there were also 9 SAS departments, with a total of 99 faculty, which had no minority faculty in 1997. The Natural Sciences grouping in SAS had only 1 African-American and no Latino faculty; this is a reflection of the fact that 5 of 6 departments in the Natural Sciences, with a total of 116 faculty, had no African-American or Latino faculty. Similarly 9 of the 14 departments in the Humanities had no African-American or Latino faculty in 1997. The 5 Social Sciences departments were generally more diverse, with 3 departments containing at least 12% minority faculty. The other 2 departments, however, showed no minorities among their 31 faculty. In Wharton, 6 of the departments had no African-American or Latino faculty last year.
One approach towards analyzing Penn's efforts in recruiting minority faculty is to examine the composition of newly hired faculty. Analyses of Penn hiring have been carried out annually by the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis, and data listing new hires in the undergraduate schools for the period 1987-1997 is presented in Table V. It shows that in the past 10 years the undergraduate schools have hired 20 new African-American faculty, 14 new Latino faculty and 54 new Asian-American faculty.
A comparison of the numbers of minority undergraduate faculty in Table IV and new hires of minority undergraduate faculty in Table V raises questions about retention of our minority faculty members. The past 10 years saw 20 African-Americans among the newly-hired faculty of undergraduate schools, yet in 1997 the undergraduate faculties included only 20 African-Americans. Similarly, while there were 14 Latino faculty hired in undergraduate schools from 1987 to 1997, Latinos in the undergraduate faculties by1997 totaled only 15. Most extraordinary is the fact that, although Asian-American new hires were 54 in the past 10 years, only 46 Asian-Americans were faculty members in the undergraduate schools in 1997, suggesting a very rapid turnover of faculty within this group.
It is therefore logical to ask whether faculty appointment represents a "revolving door" for some or all minority faculty. This question has been addressed in two ways. A report from the Office of the Associate Provost on tenure decisions of faculty appointed during FY 1980 through 1990 was published in Almanac on September 30, 1997, and is reproduced in part here as Table VI. Comparing percentage of minority awarded tenure vs. percent of total awarded tenure suggests that, with the exception of the cohorts hired in FY'83 and in FY'85, minorities tend to be tenured at a rate slightly lower than that of their peer group of faculty. However, the numbers of minority faculty are small, the variation in their tenure rate is large, and the difference in tenure rate for minority vs. total is not statistically significant. Furthermore, these data include all of the schools, which makes them heavily influenced by School of Medicine decisions; in addition, the numbers are an aggregate of all minority groups. Nonetheless, while Table IV may indicate that the University is increasing the absolute number of minority faculty, comparing Table IV with Table V implies that we are losing existing minority faculty from undergraduate schools approximately as fast as we are hiring new minority faculty, and Table VI suggests that one contributing factor might be a lower rate of promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor.
We have performed a more limited analysis of African-Americans and Latinos who were on the Penn faculty in 1991, and asked about their faculty status 7 years later. The results are presented in Figure 1. The retention rate of African-American faculty who were Assistant Professors in 1991 gives a view roughly consistent with the data in TableVI: 44% of the total are still faculty members. The pattern for retention of African-American faculty hired as Assistant Professors (top panel in Figure 1) is also very similar to that for white Assistant Professors (bottom panel). However, 5 of the 6 of the Latinos/as at Assistant Professor rank in 1991 are no longer on the Penn faculty. Focusing on the undergraduate schools, we have retained 4 out of 8 African-Americans who were Assistant Professors in 1991, presumably by award of tenure since we have a 7-year limitation on appointment as Assistant Professor. However, we retained only 1 of the 4 Latinos who were Assistant Professors in undergraduate schools in 1991.
A surprising finding is the rate of loss of African-American and Latino faculty from more senior ranks. Of the 23 African-Americans who were Associate or Full Professors in 1991, only 13 remain. Similarly, of the 19 Latinos who were Associate or Full Professors in 1991, 7 have left. The conventional wisdom might suggest that we are losing our senior minority faculty to the vigorous recruiting of peer institutions, but this is not the case for most of the senior African-American faculty who left Penn between 1991 and 1997. Of the 17 who are no longer at Penn, 11 retired or died during the 7-year period. It therefore appears that one part of the problem is that many newly hired minority faculty are simply replacing retiring minority faculty and therefore not markedly increasing the total numbers.
Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 25, March 23, 1999