Woodrow Wilson News & Publications
FOR RELEASE: May 25, 2005
CONTACT: Beverly Sanford, (609) 452-7007 x181
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NEW WOODROW WILSON REPORT POINTS TO PH.D. DIVERSITY ISSUES
National review of minority doctoral initiatives finds “chilling effect,” pipeline concerns, need for communication and assessment
PRINCETON, NJ—A new Woodrow Wilson report shows that, despite decades-long national efforts and some gains in enrollments, African Americans and Hispanics are still significantly underrepresented among recipients of Ph.D.s in the United States.
The two groups, according to Diversity and the Ph.D., comprise 32% of all U.S. citizens in the typical age range of Ph.D. candidates (25-40), but just 11% of all U.S. citizens earning Ph.D.s—and only 7% of all doctoral recipients, including international students.
“We hear this terrible phrase ‘diversity fatigue,’” said Robert Weisbuch, president of the Foundation and a contributor to the report, “but the numbers make it clear: We still have a great expertise gap in the United States. Our next generation of college students will include dramatically more students of color, but their teachers will remain overwhelmingly white.”
Created through Woodrow Wilson’s Responsive Ph.D. initiative, Diversity and the Ph.D. looks at a range of mechanisms through which foundations, government agencies, and nonprofits have sought to recruit and retain more minority students in U.S. doctoral programs. Drawing on interviews with the leaders of 13 such programs, the report also points to circumstances that increasingly impede their work.
Chief among these: the chilling effect of recent court challenges to affirmative action; reduced fellowship support; reduced visibility; limited communication among programs; and too little encouragement in the earlier stages of education for minority students to consider doctoral education.
“This report juxtaposes significantly the ideal of diversity against the lack of will and commitment of institutions to support actions to achieve diversity,” said Lydia L. English, program officer and director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a co-sponsor of the report. “Here lies the great crevasse that has prevented the ideal from becoming reality. Diversity is an intentional action, not a glossy cover.”
Diversity and the Ph.D. presses for the coordination of various isolated efforts into one national agenda, and urges more rigorous measurement of program results in order to address, as Dr. Weisbuch puts it, “the continuing near-exclusion of a third of our population from intellectual leadership.” Another key recommendation calls for more efforts sooner—from middle school through community college—to present doctoral education as a promising and relevant career path for students of color.
The report stems from gatherings of leaders of doctoral diversity initiatives at two Responsive Ph.D. roundtables in 2001, which made clear the need for a national overview. Diversity and the Ph.D. does not seek to assess state- or campus-level programs, and represents only a sample of programs of nationwide scope. The report received sponsorship through the Responsive Ph.D. initiative from both the Atlantic Philanthropies and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
For a hard copy of the report or for more information, call Beverly Sanford at (609) 452-7007 ext. 181, or email email@example.com.
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The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has its origins in a now-famous fellowship program, begun in 1945, which helped the United States create a great generation of college teachers and intellectual leaders. Today’s Woodrow Wilson continues to cultivate excellence in teaching and learning at every level of education, putting the arts and sciences at the service of democracy.