The University of California, Davis, is one of five research universities and three Hispanic Serving Institutions participating in a new program to increase the number of Latino professors in the humanities at U.S. colleges and universities.
Pathways to the Professoriate, led by the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions, will use a $5.1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help 90 students from the HSIs prepare for doctoral programs over five years.
Participation in the new program adds to UC Davis’ own efforts to build a core of Latina and other diverse faculty and inspire a new generation of Californians. The Davis campus is also seeking designation as an HSI.
The initiatives come as colleges and universities across the United States are trying, and often struggling, to develop a faculty that reflects the nation’s growing ethnic and cultural diversity. The scarcity of Latino professors is especially stark, as Latinos make up only 4.1 percent of the professoriate in the United States, but 20 percent of the population aged 18-44.
Ralph Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor at UC Davis, said the campus will benefit from the partnership immediately.
“We’ve been making slow progress on our own stated need — to have a diversified faculty that reflects our student body, to have research conducted by a diverse a group as possible — but we need to accelerate that progress,” he said. “Having our faculty work with scholars from a broad array of institutions can change how hiring decisions are made.”
“There is tremendous talent in so many places,” Hexter added. “We need to enhance our ability to recognize and appreciate it.”
Participating HSIs are Florida International University; the University of Texas El Paso; and California State University, Northridge. In addition to UC Davis and Penn, the research institutions are UC Berkeley, New York University and Northwestern University.
While selected HSI students are still at their undergraduate university, five faculty members from UC Davis will share in mentoring them and providing guidance on their senior-year research projects as well as other academic support. A graduate coordinator from UC Davis will assist students with their applications to UC Davis doctoral programs.
Faculty will also help teach an intensive summer research program to help the students develop research skills and acclimatize to graduate school culture.
Josephine Moreno, graduate diversity officer for Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, Social Sciences and the School of Education at UC Davis, will serve as the graduate coordinator for the campus. She said she will be recruiting this spring for faculty members to participate in the program.
Preparing students to mentor others
Marybeth Gasman, director of the Penn Center for MSIs, said the program is a way to begin fundamental change. “We hope this creates a strong pathway to graduate school for Latino students that will grow over time, with these students supporting one another, and one day becoming mentors themselves.”
The center will conduct assessments of how selected students are progressing. In doing so, Gasman hopes to “find the leaks in the pipeline” — the challenges that are most likely to halt a Latino scholar’s path to a doctorate.
UC Davis is also building a core of Latina and other diverse faculty in science, technology, engineering, social sciences and math to educate and serve as role models for others. UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi launched ADVANCE, with a grant from the National Science Foundation, to increase the participation of women, especially Latinas, in STEM careers.