Writer's note: I am writing my truth. As a senior adjunct African American faculty, I have struggled to secure a full-time faculty position at Community College of Philadelphia for more than two decades. The data in a November 2015 Washington Post article headlined "It's 2015. Where is all the black college faculty?" clearly documents -- again -- that black faculty are not being hired at major universities in America. Evidence of the unfair hiring practices at CCP is evident in the number of racial discrimination complaints/lawsuits filed against this institution. Because of this disturbing scenario, it is so vital that I share my story in sincere hopes that corrective change will follow.
Earlier this year I initiated my fifth attempt to secure a full-time position as an academic advisor at Community College of Philadelphia. I have served as a part-time academic advisor at CCP for nearly twenty years.
There was discussion at the college that full-time advisers would be hired soon for more than two years. Matter of fact, in April 2015, I met with the newly hired college president to express an interest in that proposed full-time academic advisor position. I remembered informing the president during our ten minute scheduled meeting that it is very difficult for African Americans and senior adjunct faculty to be hired in full-time positions at Community College of Philadelphia.
In response to this point, the president listened and encouraged me to apply for the full-time academic advisor position. After this meeting, I had optimism because the new president of the college had listened to what I had to say and had given me needed confidence to apply for the position.
I agonized over applying for the full-time academic advisor position for many months. Why? Because during my 30 year relationship with the Community College of Philadelphia I had twice applied for full-time positions as a counselor and education instructor. Additionally, I had initiated two conversations with high-ranking college officials that I hoped would lead to a full-time position. Neither effort resulted in my receiving either an interview or full-time employment.
In assessing this record of rejections for full-time employment at CCP, I often wondered if there were reasonable reasons beyond race. I was an outspoken, visible adjunct faculty union leader from 2001 to 2005 during contentious discussion about equity pay for adjunct faculty. Needless to say, an adjunct faculty union leader, perhaps, engendered ill will among college administration about my receiving serious consideration for a full-time faculty position. Then, I will never know the impact, positive or negative, of being the sister of Pennsylvania State Representative Dwight Evans. Dwight, along with Pa State Senator Anthony H. Williams, spearheaded the discussion and legislation on school choice in Pennsylvania. In my view, some members of the American Federation of Teachers are still harboring ill feelings and thoughts regarding Dwight's role in the charter school movement. Perhaps, some persons may have transferred their ill feelings and thoughts about Dwight to me. Lastly, as unpopular as it may be to think and write, there are three factors that too often influence hiring decisions: race, gender and age.
As I have just noted, I had five possible reasons why I thought the deck was heavily stacked against me in being considered for a full-time academic advising position.
In January 2016, with a great deal of hesitation and misgivings, I completed the on-line application for the newly created full-time academic advisor faculty position. Over several days while I completed the on-line application I thought to myself the following: I have a master's degree in counseling, 18-years of part-time academic advising, a 30-year relationship with the college, I am a senior adjunct faculty, an African-American female, a resident of Philadelphia and an active in my community.
I thought that I was a strong candidate for this advising position due in part to something that occurred many weeks earlier. In Fall 2015, CCP's former academic advising specialist asked me if I would assist a newly hired full-time faculty member. Specifically, this specialist asked if the new hire could shadow me while I advised students. The specialist asked me to provide advising training for that new faculty member. I thought to myself that I must surely be doing something right as an academic advisor if members of CCP administration enlisted my expertise to instruct a newly hired full-time faculty member.
Months later I received a telephone call on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 from a CCP counselor who was a member of the hiring committee for that advising position. This hiring committee member asked me to come for a 1:00 pm interview on Saturday, March 5, 2016. I had butterflies in my stomach. I was very nervous. I knew I was qualified to do job. But, could I convince others that I am qualified to do the job.
At that time (Saturday, March 5, 2016), I thought I satisfactorily answered all the questions before the 6 all white member interviewing committee. Of course, looking back with at it now, perhaps I could have had a stronger performance before those six all-white hiring committee members. As I told a close friend of mine after the interview, I wish I had performed like the late Prince or Beyonce. African Americans must always be twice as good as non-African Americans. In some cases, non-African Americans can be mediocre yet still achieve success without the scrutiny leveled at African-Americans.
Sadly, I received an email on April 1, 2016 from CCP Human Resources, thanking me for my interest in the academic advising full time faculty position.
In other words, I had not received a favorable recommendation for that full time academic advisory faculty position from that six member all-white interviewing committee.
On the other hand, the college hired a white woman from another department to fill the first full-time academic advisor position at a school with 58% African-Americans Students.
I wish I could I say I was surprised by the interviewing committee's decision. Remember, this was my fifth attempt to secure a full-time faculty position at Community College of Philadelphia.