A case study on the recruitment and hiring of African American faculty in higher education : perspectives of faculty and administrators.


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This case study examined the recruitment and hiring practices of African American faculty in higher education at primarily White institutions (PWIs) in the southeast region of the United States. In higher education, African American faculty remain underrepresented in PWIs. African American faculty provide value to students during their educational journeys, and the lack of their presence is of concern. This research into this phenomenon included three universities within the southeastern region, all part of the same university system and located within 150 miles of one another. The three universities are research institutions, and each has racial minority student populations. Two of the universities in this study have a low percentage of African American faculty. The third university maintains an equal number of African American and White American faculty. Given the colleges’ proximity, understanding the recruitment strategies of each assisted with providing recommendations for the recruitment, hiring, and retention of African American faculty. This study examined faculty and administrator perspectives on biases that can affect the recruitment and hiring process. These biases include explicit, implicit, and unconscious, each having significant differences. Bias can knowingly and unknowingly occur in decision-making, as these biases are neurological. By nature, everyone holds some bias, which can affect the thinking process and impact hiring at the recruitment level. In addition, biases can affect an institution’s ability to achieve diversity (Agarwal, 2018) and inclusion, which can conflict with an institution’s stated values. Examining and understanding these biases assist individuals in recognizing and managing their thoughts during the decision-making process. The results of this study informed suggestions for positive shifts in the recruitment of African American faculty in PWIs within the United States. A centralized process for the recruitment and hiring process is recommended with oversight by Human Resources. The study revealed that bias occurred in the course of employment for faculty and administrators. Awareness of these biases is the key to affecting a culture change within PWIs. Such changes positively impacted African American students and highlighted the importance of African American faculty in their educational journeys.



Affirmative action. African American. Critical race theory. Discrimination. Explicit bias. Faculty. Hiring process. Implicit bias. Inclusion. Intercultural competence. Recruitment process. Search committees. Stereotypes and unconscious bias.