Tag Archives: ethnicity

Advising Students to the Ph.D.: Are We Equitable in Our Support?

By Dr. Marybeth Gasman


A recent report published in Diverse: Issues In Higher Education states that Ph.D. completion varies by gender and race.  Specifically, the 10-year completion rate for Whites was 55 percent, for Hispanics it was 51 percent, for Asian Americans it was 50 percent and for African Americans the rate was only 47 percent.  Of course there are many factors that play a part in the lower completion rates for racial and ethnic minorities compared to their White counterparts.  However, I’d like to focus on one of these factors:  attention and support of one’s faculty advisor.


As a faculty member, every so often, I write down the name of all my doctoral advisees, noting the collaborations that I have with them or the introductions to opportunities that I have made for them.  I do this to see if I am being equitable in my support of students.  Sometimes as faculty, we tend to send all of the opportunities for scholarship, teaching, and professional service to one or two students.  These students often “think like us” and are eager to do whatever we ask.  But what about our other advisees?  I think that as faculty we need to ask ourselves periodically if we are making connections with and for all of our students. 


Are we passing on opportunities to teach and write to students of color?  Are we collaborating on research projects with students of color?  The doctoral process, and especially the dissertation process (the point at which those who drop out, drop out) is a lonely experience.  It is the first time in a student’s life that he or she is asked to “go it alone.”  Having the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on an article or assist with a class can provide a doctoral student with a comforting venue for motivational interaction and self-reflection.  Watching another person navigate the writing process can be empowering, especially if that other person (the faculty advisor) is upfront about the ups and downs of the writing and research process.  Sharing our lack of invincibility with our students helps them to see that finishing the Ph.D. is possible.


In closing, I urge all faculty members to take a periodic look at the work they do with their students, asking whether or not they are equitable in their treatment of students, especially students of color.  It is absolutely crucial that we increase the success of doctoral students of color as this is the only way to change the racial and ethnic make-up of the professoriate.  And, in my opinion, this type of change is a moral imperative.


An associate professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Gasman is the author of Envisioning Black Colleges: A History of the United Negro College Fund (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007) and lead editor of Understanding Minority Serving Institutions  (SUNY Press, 2008).

Pew Charitable Trusts’ Recent Report, One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008

By Dr. James Moore, III

In a recent report entitled, One in100: Behind Bars in America 2008, Pew Charitable Trusts highlights the growth in America’s prison population. For the first time in American society, more than one in every 100 adults finds themselves incarcerated. The U.S. inmate population is higher than that of all the 26 largest European nations combined. In fact, the U.S. has more of its citizens incarcerated than any other country in the world, including China and Russia.

When disagregating the data by ethnicity and gender, the figures are even more startling. For example, 1 of 15 African American males, 18 years or older, are incarcerated compared to 1 of 106 white males.  Further, one of 9 African American males, between the ages of 20 to 34, find themselves in prison or jail.

Males are more likely to be incarcerated than their female counterparts (10 times more likely). However, it is important to note that the women inmate population is rapidly increasing. While the inmate rate is higher for African American and white males, one of 100 African American females, ages 35 to 39, are behind bars.

Based on previous reports produced by organizations, such as the Children’s Defense Fund, it is clear that the prison industry is a major public policy concern. It has major implications, particularly from an economic standpoint. With this in mind, how can this nation protect public safety while reducing the growth of the prison population? How can we revitalize our communities? What is the role of the Black academic and scholar?

Like I always, I look forward to having intimate dialogue and exchange on this very important topic.

James L. Moore III, Ph.D. is the director of the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male at The Ohio State University.