Scholars say basta to Chicano/Latino president shortage – enough - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

Scholars say basta to Chicano/Latino president shortage – enough

Email


by Roberto Rodriguez


Efforts are underway to create a new pipeline to reverse shrinking representation

The current shortage of presidents of color at colleges and
universities in the United States is here to stay, say some higher
education experts. That is, unless some kind of intervention is
applied. Several scholars around the country are now mobilizing to
create just such a remedy for the shortage of Chicano/Latino presidents.

At the more than 3,500 colleges and universities located in the
continental United States, there are only 102 Chicano/Latino college
presidents, which includes those heading two-year and four-year
institutions. And according to Dr. Antonio Flores, president of the
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), only one —
Dr. Manuel Pacheco of the University of Missouri — heads a major
research institution.

“It’s a fraction of 1 percent,” says Flores of the number of Latino
presidents at research institutions. “Currently, the only place we’re
overrepresented is at the lower ranks of the workforce.”

Puerto Rico, Flores adds, is the only place where there are a substantial number of Hispanic presidents.

Not only is HACU concerned with the lack of Latino college
presidents around the country, the association feels mandated to do
something about it. HACU hopes to make a formal announcement this fall
about a major initiative it is developing to ameliorate the problem.

“We intend to implement a national leadership initiative that will
create [a] cadre of leaders, a critical mass of leaders who will be
able lead academic institutions — from deanships up to CEOs, and not
just at HACU schools, but at all colleges and universities,” Flores
says. “It is a priority for us.”

Fewer Now than Then

Dr. Arturo Madrid, distinguished professor at Trinity University in
San Antonio, says that there were more Latino college presidents ten or
fifteen years ago than there are now. He maintains that the aperture of
affirmative action that moved people of color into positions of
presidents or chancellors at major colleges and universities died in
the 1980s. And what’s worse, he says, is that for Latinos, there isn’t
even a pipeline.

  Is Tenure In Your Future?

“In the 1980s, it looked like some administrators would move up,
but it didn’t happen. People [were] capped out,” says Madrid, the
former head of the Tomas Rivera Center, the nation’s leading Latino
think-tank.

Not since the late Dr. Tomas Rivera was selected as president of
the University of California-Riverside in the 1980s has there been a
Latino at the helm of a major research university in California. There
are several Latino presidents at the California State system —
including Dr. Tomas Arcienega at Bakersfield, Dr. Manuel Esteban at
Chico, and Dr. Ruben Armina at Sonoma.

Many observers view the recent search for a president at the
University of New Mexico as evidence that the old-boy network is still
functioning. The university recently selected three finalists, but then
scuttled its search after many complaints surfaced about the secretive
nature of the headhunting process. Complaints from various sources
alleged not only that the process was secretive, but that the search
had been rigged.

The Hispanic Roundtable was concerned that Dr. Rat-non Gutierrez,
associate chancellor at the University of California-San Diego, was not
selected as a finalist, even though the New Mexico native son’s
credentials appear to make him an ideal candidate.

Gutierrez believes that it’s still very difficult for people of
color to advance to the top of the academic leadership career ladder.

“The darker you are, the more difficult it is to be selected,”
Gutierrez says. “The [White] elite are only comfortable with those like
them. It’s what they call a `comfort zone.”‘

Gutierrez intends to be in the running again when the regents resume their search.

No formal time line for the new search been announced by press
time. However, at a meeting earlier this month Board of Regents
president Larry Willard recommended that the new search he resumed in
the fall.

  Gov. Says He Wants UMass Head With National Heft

The Need for Intervention

The absence of a network designed to cultivate prospective Latino college presidents is part of the problem.

“There is no direct line or formula,” says Dr. Richard Romo, vice
provost at the University of Texas. “Most college professors and chairs
of departments will never be high-level administrators because
management need is small — five or six at most. The majority of
professors will not make it to high-level posts and would not know how
to get into the inner circle. People of color have to be
extraordinarily prepared and qualified.”

For Whites, Romo adds, the rules are different. He cites the
example of Dr. Charles Young, the former University of California at
Los Angeles chancellor who was given the nod at age thirty-six in the
late 1960s.

“He had no more than five years of higher education experience.
Some is luck and some of it is being mentored. This particular example
destroys all the particular notions that experience is the most
important factor. There’s very thin air at the top.

“To become president, you need both a mentor and someone pushing
for you. This is how Dr. Tomas Rivera (UC-Riverside) got the nod in the
1980s. Dr. Vera Martinez, a UC Regent, pushed for him,” adds Romo.
“It’s hard to get that kind of support because in many universities
around the country, administrators still treat scholars of color as
though they should be grateful just for being on campus.”

The current trend toward selecting presidents on the basis of their
perceived potential to raise money can present yet another impediment
for scholars of color, says Dr. Carlos Velez Ibanez, dean of
humanities, arts, and social sciences at UC-Riverside. He believes that
it is a misguided trend.

“There’s nothing like a president who can talk to professors on
equal intellectual grounds. If you don’t have your own independent
intellectual vision [of where your university is going], then you
become simply an accountant,” says Ibanez. “There’s nothing wrong with
accountants, but if that’s what presidents are [becoming], then they
should instead work for Smith/Barney.”

  Summit: Faculty Challenged to Get Off Athletic Sidelines and Get Involved

Trinity University’s Madrid says that a program similar to the one
that his association is attempting to create has already been
established for women and African Americans — the American Council on
Education’s ACE Fellows Program. The purpose of that program — and the
one HACU would like to establish — is to form a pool of candidates
that will be extra ordinarily successful, he says. (see Black Issues,
May 14, 1998)

However, Madrid doesn’t feel that the ACE Fellows Program has been particularly advantageous for Latinos.

“It was successful in tapping women…. Latinos were not a target
of that program and didn’t benefit from it,” says Madrid, adding, “The
fact is, the United States is not prepared to let Latinos assume
positions of power.”

Not everyone agrees with Madrid’s assessment.

“When I first became a president, all the Latina college presidents
could have met in a telephone booth,” says Dr. Piedad F. Robertson,
president of Santa Monica College in California. “There was only one
other one.”

The former ACE fellow says part of the problem with creating more
Latino or Latina college presidents is identifying those individuals
who are qualified.

While this can be an arduous task, Robertson is “encouraged” by the
more than 100 Latino higher education leaders who exist in today’s
postesconclary market. She feels a personal obligation to steer other
Latinas in the right direction. It is a mission she takes seriously and
points to her recent referral of Dr. Lupita Tannatt to the ACE Fellows
program as an example.

“A lot of us have the responsibility to `grow your own.’ Just
because it was hard for us, doesn’t mean it has to be hard for everyone
else.”

COPYRIGHT 1998 Cox, Matthews & Associates



© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com

RELATED ARTICLES >>
Garnett Stokes Becomes University of New Mexico’s 1st Female President ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico Board of Regents made history Thursday as it named Dr. Garnett Stokes the first woman president to lead the state’s flagship school. Stokes, the provost and executive vice chancellor for academic af...
Guillermo: National Free Speech Center Too Academic for Words The academic world is great at creating useless research that amounts to one gigantic boondoggle. Witness the millions of wasted public dollars that fund scientists to do useless research on animals that have minimal, if not zero relevance to humans....
Experts Tell Congress Free Speech on Campus ‘Essential’ WASHINGTON — In order to prepare students for the complex situations they will face in the world and the workplace, higher education leaders and government officials must resist efforts to restrict free speech on campus and keep colleges as places of...
University of Louisville Violated Law by Denying Newspaper’s Request LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A ruling by Kentucky’s attorney general says the University of Louisville violated the state’s open records law by denying a newspaper’s request for emails on the former university president’s hard drive. The Courier-Journal requ...
Semantic Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *