ED 224 853
UD 022 624
Morton, Cornel N.
Higher Education's Response to the Needs of Minority
Students: Leadership and Institutional Issues.
14 Oct 82
16p.; Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the
Society of Ethnic and Special Studies (10th,
Edwardsville, IL, October, 1982).
Speeches/Conference Papers (150)
MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Black Students; *Colleges; College Students;
Educational Responsibility; *Higher Education;
*Leadership Responsibility; *Minority Groups; Program
Evaluation; *School Holding Power
Given recent funding cutbacks and lagging
opportunities for minority groups in higher education, predominantly
white colleges and universities must make a concerted effort to
retain minority students and to increase their chances of success.
Racism is systemic in institutions of higher education and is
reinforced by low faculty expectations for academic success among
blacks and other minorities. In order to counteract the effects of
institutional racism, first, those in leadership positions must
recognize that they have a responsibility to address both the
financial and social needs of minority students. College presidents
and program developers should encourage an institutional environment
that reflects and supports ethnic diversity, and they should actively
examine existing practices and policies that might have a
discriminatory effect. In addition to strong leadership, successful
efforts regarding minority student opportunity and retention require
the commitment and participation of the entire college or uniNfersity
staff. The third element necessary for improving institutional
responsiveness to and retention of minority students is the ongoing
evaluation of any programs that are implemented. Effective formative
evaluation can serve as an indicator of progress and a guide for
future endeavors toward equal educational opportunities.
Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made
from the original document.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION
EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION
document has been reproduced as
received from the person or organization
Minor changes have been made to improve
Points of view or opinions stated in,.(his document do not necessarily represent official NIE
position or policy.
PRESENTED AT THE TENTH ANNUAL
"PERMISSION TO REPRODUCE THIS
MATERIAL HAS BEEN GRANTED BY
TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
INFORMATION CENTER (ERIC)."
HIGHER EDUCATION'S RESPONSE TO THE NEEDS
LEADERSHIP AND INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
Mr. Cornel N. Morton
SOCIETY OF ETHNIC AND SPECIAL STUDIES
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY AT EDWARDSVILLE
With a prescriptive frame of reference this
article decribes some essential elements
affecting higher education's response to the
needs of minority students.
Retention problems are examined as a source for institutional development: (a) the leadership necessary to facilitate process, (b) the issue
of cooperative problem-solving, (c) the
necessity for institutional commitment, and
(d) the process of program evaluation.
problems of access and retention should be
given a top priority status. To resolve
many of the problems requires fundamental
changes in policy and institutional practices.
HIGHER EDUCATION'S RESPONSE TO THE NEEDS OF
MINORITY STUDENTS: LEADERSHIP AND INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
This paper describes some of the essential elements important in
institutional problem-solving regarding the retention of minority students
and the effectiveness of opportunity programs.
More specifically, this
1) examines the role and responsibilities college and university
officials can carry out in order to increase the success chances of minority students, and 2) suggests recommendations that may prove relevant to
the development and implementation of improved programming.
This paper will focus on minority student retention at predominently
The use of the descriptor "minority student" refers
to those students historically denied equal access and opportunities in
The description of the conditions of Black students
is not intended to minimize the conditions of those similarly situated.
The period of the late sixties to the early seventies seems to represent a pivotal point in the pattern of minority admissions to higher education institutions.
During the 1960's and up to the mid 1970's many
American colleges and universities were the sites of protests by students
and others "turned off" by the policies of political leaders in Washington
and the widespread concern with American involvement in Vietnam.
students, particularly the black students generally concentrated on:
1) the admission of more black students,
2) increased financial support,
3) more black faculty,
4) more aggressive involvement by the university in righting the
social wrongs that disadvantaged minorities,
5) the incorporation of black or ethnic studies in the curricula.
The institutions, they felt, should lead the effort to establish a more
Minority-oriented programs and other efforts to reduce or eradicate
the effects of institutional racism in higher education are currently
experiencing a growing resistance to these efforts in the form of federal
budget cuts and retrenchment effects.
During the Reagan administration's
first year in office the Congress approved major cuts in the federal budget
that will sharply affect education and minority-oriented programs.
number of studies have documented an apparent shift in support for these
Un the other hand, the last two decades have witnessed dramatic
increases in minority representation at all levels of the educational
pipeline and in virtually all fields.
Unfortunately, the rate of
progress has dimished almost to a trickle.
Currently, minority under-
representation increases at each higher level of the educational pipeline
and is especially severe in the sciences and engineering.
"Presently, black students
James W. Turner, for example wrote:
are trained to live and work in a white middle-class environment.
are compelled to study and learn about the politics, art, economics and
culture of white people as if black people, their community, and their
problems did not exist." "Black Studies: Challenges to Higher Education."
in G. Kerry Smith, ed., The Troubled Campus (San Francisco:
Inc., Publishers, 1970), for the American Association of Higher Education,
2 Gerald R. Gill, Meanness Mania (Washington, D.C.: Howard University
Press, 1980); Faustine Jones, The Changing Mood in America (Washington, D.C.:
Howard University Press, 1977); J.D. Lehner Jr., A Losinv Battle:
Decline of Black Participation in Graduation and Professional Education.
A report prepared for the National Advisory Committee on Black Higher EduDepartment
cation and Black Colleges and Universities (Washington, D.C.:
of Education, 1980); National Advisory Committee oo Black Higher Education
and Black Colleges and Universities, Access of Black Americans to Higher
How Open Is the Door? (Washington, D.C.: Department of Education, 1979).
Alexander Astin. Minorities in American Higher Education (San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass Publishers, 3982) p. 177.
The pursuit of equal educational opportunity in higher education
is obviously an.important goal, it is important however that the concept of equal educational opportunity be expanded beyond the issue of
In an effort to give precision to the definition of educa-
tional opportunity, Elizabeth Abramovitz subdivides the problem of educational opportunity into the concepts of "access", "distribution", and
In her report to the Institute for the Study of Educa-
tional Policy she explains:
"Access means that black students have the opportunity
to enroll in undergraduate, graduate, or professional
Distribution refers to choice, the opportunischools.
ty for black students to enter different types of inAnd persistence refers
stitutions and fields of study.
to the opportunity to remain in college and complete
In order to have
their training in a timely fashion.
equal educational opportunity, a black student must not
just have the opportunity to enroll in college, but a
choice of institution and programs, and a chance to complete the training once begun."4
INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT REGARDING OPPORTUNITY PROGRAMS AND MINORITY
Only recently have higher education institutions been studied as
formal organizations capable of synergistic operation.
Models that ex-
amine student academic development, faculty productivity, leadership,
goal orientations, and the ability to acquire necessary resources stand
out as significant contributions.
If we view colleges and universities
as formal organizations we can also recognize the problems of minority
student attrition as systemic, that is affecting the institution generally.
4Elizabeth Abramovitz, Equal Educational Opportunity for Blacks in
U.S. Higher Education: An Assessment (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1976) p. 19.
Edward Gross, "Universities as Organizations: A Research Approach,"
518-544; Kim Cameron,
American Sociological Review 33 (August 1968):
"Measuring Organizational Effectiveness in Institutions of Higher Educa604-634.
tion", Administrative Science Quarterly 23 (December 1978):
An important problem systemic to American Higher Education is the
continued presence of institutional racism, reinforced by low expectattons for the academic success of black and other minority students.
research is extensive on teacher expectations and teacher behaviors.
problem exists at all levels of education.
The research clearly reveals
1) teachers do form different expectations for different students,
2) the expectations influence the instructional interactions
between students and teachers, and
3) student achievement gains are correlated with the teacher's expectations.
In a recent study the National Advisory Committee on Black Higher Education and Black Colleges and Universities observed the following conditions:
"Black students who receive special financial aid or
academic assistance get the message that "special"
is inferior-- that they do not deserve to be at the
predominantly white university. Thetadge of inferiority is then pinned on all Black students, ilicluding
those of the highest academic ability and those with
no financial need."7
Kathleen C. Christensen and William E. Sedlacek,"Differential
Faculty Attitudes Towards Blacks, Females and Students in General,"
.Journal of the National Association of Women Deans, Administrators and
Counselors 37 (Winter 1974): 78-84; Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson,
"Self-Fulfilling Prophecies in the Classroom: Teachers Expectations as
Unintended Determinants of Pupils Intellectual Competence." Dr. Martin
Deutsh, et al (eds), Social Class, Race, and Psychological Development
(New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968); Jere E. Brophy and Thomas L.
Good, "Teacher's Communication of Differential Expectations for Children's
Classroom Performance," Journal of Educational Psychology 61 (October 1970):
7National Advisory Committee on Black Higher Education and Black
Admission and Retention Problems of Black
Colleges and Universities.
Students at Seven Predominantly White Universities.
Department of Education, 1980) p.19.
Institutional change is never easy.
It is especially difficult when
the issues are as thorny and emotional as racism and sexism.
makes the following observation regarding institutional change:
"Organizations offer substantial rewards for people to
conform to organizational goals, so it is no wonder
that there is general passivity toward changing the
fundamental nature of most large organizations. The
risk is often too great for the rewards one gets." 8
Regarding opportunity prcgrams for the disadvantaged Fred E. Crossland
cites the fol'owing:
"No essential change in the overall college curriculum
has occurred as a result of the addition of programs
for the disadvantaged, although,responsive practices
have been introduced."9
There are certain essential elements that describe successful programs
for retaining and graduating minority students.
problem-solving, commitment, and program evaluation are critical variables
for mainstreaming black and other minority students.
Essentials of Leadership
Those in leadership positions must first of all recognize and feel
that they have a problem to solve or a responsibility to address the retention and needs of minority students.
Opportunity program professionals,
counselors, faculty, and external consultants may collect sufficient data to
demonstrate a problem, but the institution's leadership must recognize
that the problem belongs to them.
Those in leadership positions who
Robert Terry, "The White Male Club:
Rights Digest 10 (Spring 1974) p.3.
Biology and Power", Civil
Fred E. Crossland, Minority Access to College (New York:
Books, 1971) p. 103,
consider the needs of minority students should not play games with the
allocation of resources for such programs.
Black students need greater financial assistance.
It is the respon-
sibility of the university to carefully devise a plan for the black student
to meet his or her economic needs.
This does not mean black students
should be given or are looking for a "hand-out".
The institution can how-
ever provide the student with job skills through student employment programs, thus making him or her employable during summer months and possibly
while attending the last two years of college work for the bachelor's degree.
In short, these responsibilities of leadership are handled like any
other responsibility necessary for the vitality of the institution.
role of the president, his or her staff, and minority-oriented program pro-
fessionals is to increase an understanding of the problem, generate and
focus the energies of all groups towards its solution, and facilitate the
development of skills and programs to solve. it.
Finally, the tendency to "blame the victim" should be avoided through
focusing on the institution -- its culture, policies, practices, power and
resource distribution -- rather than exclusively on the life of minorities.
Such a focus might include the following:
1) The need to develop an institutional culture that is supportive
and reflects the diversity found at the institution.
institution's environment support and nurture the development of
healthy attitudes towards themselves and other Black people?
the academic and personal development experiences offered
relevant to minority students?
or do they reflect the values
and norms of white and middle-class students?
Designing policies that are more flexible and responsive to
the needs of all students.
Is the institution's admissions
policy designed to consider the possibility that non-traditional
criteria for admissions may better predict the success of minority
Does the institution's policy regardinc non-discrimina-
tion result in the hiring and retention of minority faculty and
professional staff, many of whom serve as valuable role models
for minority students?
Examining institutional prar.tices and procedures that potentially
have a discriminatory effect.
Since many of the practices and
procedures in the institution originate during committee deliber-
ations, do the various standing andad hoccommittees of the ins.titution include those who understand and represent the needs of
Are the practices and procedures implemented
congruent with, the institutions affirmative action programs?
The need to make_the most of scarce resources without penalizing
minority student programs.
Assuming equality.of opportunity
is fundamental to the mission of the institutiOn, do retention
programs receive an equitable share of the human and material
Are budgetary decisions reached after
appropriate evaluation and consuitation with those ,t3sponsible
for the program's implementation?
Successful efforts in institutional development regardinr opportunity
programs and minority student retention should include the entire staff.
Faculty, administrators, counselors and others must accept their
share of the overall responsibility toward solving the problems and recognize the interlocking links required to facilitate the process.
people take the attitude, "If only the administration would," or "If
only my staff would do this," the problem would be solved.
They have to
say, "We have an over-all problem at this institution, but this particular
part of it belongs to me and I must do my share in solving it."
Systematic problem-solving and other principles of organizational development serve to improve the conditions of institutional life for all involved.
Institutional nonresponsiveness to change not only affects the
minority student but all other students as well.
opment regarding minority student retention efforts are more likely to
succeed wheil the efforts are (a) planned and supported from the top, (b)
goal-focused and (c) promote the self-interests of all groups found at the
These efforts must also focus in part on the "climate" of the institution.
Negative stereotypes, bigoted attitudes and biased behavior influ-
ences interpersonal relationships, institutional structure, and increases
the possibilities for self-imposed alienation on the part of minority students.
The institution's leadership, faculty, and staff must want to solve
the problems adversely affecting minority students.
Knowing that you
have a problem is one thing, but saying, "Yes, I want to work to help
solve it" is another.
Minority student attrition, insufficient financial
aid, a lack of culturally relevant programs, and feelings of racial
tility are issues that must be addressed.
Institutions, as they increasingly commit themselves to providing
equal educational opportunities, should:
- Have a carefully developed action plan that will
address problems of minority student attrition
and make it a working document.
- Make periodic reports to the university community
on status and progress in relation to the plan.
- Actively recruit and provide access in addition to
student serv.ices needed.
- Refrain from policies that are formulated to admit
only high achieving students who have been socialized to.fit the university's image oc scholarship,
cultural and social development.
- Recruit and hire more minority faculty, administrators,
and staff to serve as models of achievement, and to
be resources to assist students with their problems.
- Provide sufficient financial aid to minority students.
Unuerstandably, most fianancial aid packages
are based on need; however, book loans, part-time
employment and contirwency funds for financial emergencies can be made available.
- Plan and implement faculty development experiences
such as workshops and seminars, in order to create
faculty awareness and commitment to a successful retention program.
It is also essential that the university's leadership "own the process"
during any intervention designed to improve the effectiveness of minorityoriented programs.
Planning, implementing and evaluating the pr ...
Purchase answer to see full