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Minority report

Hagerstown Community College says it's having trouble recruiting a diverse staff

Hagerstown Community College says it's having trouble recruiting a diverse staff

December 20, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

HAGERSTOWN

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

The all-white, full-time faculty at Hagerstown Community College makes recruiting and hiring minority instructors difficult, officials in the college's human resources department said.

There are a 464 faculty members at HCC, but only 25 of them are minorities. All of the 69 full-time instructors are white, according to figures provided by the college.

"We know the numbers don't look good," said Michael Seger, human resources director. "But we're trying to do something about it."

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Minorities have never made up more than one percent of HCC's full-time faculty over the past few years, according to figures provided by HCC. Minorities make up a little more than 11 percent of the 5,031 students at the college, spokeswoman Beth Stull said.

Seger said past teaching candidates turned down HCC for higher-paying positions at schools in or around bigger cities more culturally diverse.

Until recently, HCC relied on placing ads in ethnic media, but the response to them was low, Seger said.

Bonnie Zampino, assistant director of human resources at HCC, said the department had to do more than advertise with ethnic media in order to attract minority teachers. She said HCC this year started approaching graduate students at public and private universities, including some historically black schools and Native American institutions.

HCC has started an internship program for those interested in teaching in higher education that is open to all applicants, regardless of race, Zampino said. HCC does not have a recruitment program that specifically targets minorities, she said.

Sonjurae Cross, an African-American alumna of HCC, is the first person to participate in the internship program. As an assistant instructor, she'll teach English and adult education courses next semester.

"Like attracts like. HCC will always have the same male, Caucasian face if no one else steps forward," said Cross, 31, of Hagerstown. "We have to do this for ourselves.

"In order to get them there, it's going to cost," she said. "It's going to take personal investment. They need people like me on board."

Cross, who attends Hood College, hopes to be hired as a full-time faculty member after she completes her graduate degree. A master's degree is required for full-time faculty positions, Seger said.

Community colleges throughout Western Maryland are facing a similar problem.

Linda Fike, director of personnel at Garrett Community College, said there was only one minority among the 69 professors who taught credit and non-credit courses.

The student body was virtually all white, she said.

Garrett Community College does not have a recruitment plan that specifically targets minorities, Fike said.

"We're not sure one would be successful," she said.

Hiring recruiter Daniel Smith said Frederick Community College has found success with advertising in publications like black newspapers and Spanish-language magazines.

Minorities make up six percent of the 82 full-time faculty and comprise nearly a third of all of the teachers who work there, spokesman Michael Pritchard said. Minorities make up 19 percent of FCC's student body, Smith said.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission, in its most recent accountability report, has asked community colleges statewide to address diversity. It was listed as a major priority in HCC's strategic plan.

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