In Depth

Phillips Academy a Leader in Recruiting Minority Faculty

Phillips Academy is a leader among its peer schools in minority faculty recruitment and retention, but the process can be difficult, according to Dean of Faculty Temba Maqubela. Faculty of color make up 18.9 percent of Phillips Academy’s faculty, and just one department chair is of color. The small number of minority faculty accounts for the small number of minority department chairs, Maqubela said. Kevin Cardozo, Chair of the Chemistry department and the only department chair of color, wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “I don’t think people of color are reluctant to take on these positions, but instead the low numbers may simply be a function of having a small number of faculty of color…I feel that the school has always been fully supportive of me.” According to Maqubela, in the last 20 years, married African-American faculty who have a family tend to stay at Phillips Academy, more so than young or single faculty. This trend is also reflected in other racial groups that make up the Phillips Academy faculty. According to Maqubela, recruiting and retaining faculty of color is difficult, but not so different from retaining faculty in general. Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School, said, “I think that for faculty who make the choice to be here, it’s certainly easier to be in a diverse community.” Faculty of color face issues similar to those students face living in Andover. Maqubela recalled having to go all the way to Dorchester to get a haircut at one point because there were no places in Andover that could meed his needs. According to Maqubela, issues like this make retaining faculty a challenge. Sykes said, “I think it’s less about the school and more about the community. Andover is not a town with a large African-American population. It’s a tougher sell for African-American people to look favorably at a community like Andover even if the school itself is appealing.” Although there is no faculty equivalent for the tenet “youth from every quarter,” Phillips Academy makes a conscious effort to attract a diverse faculty. Maqubela said, “I wouldn’t be here if we didn’t.” Maqubela plans to attend the Faculty Color Recruitment Fair in Atlanta in February of this year. “Word of mouth works best” for recruitment, Maqubela said. At the annual fair, he is sometimes able to meet Andover alumni, and they try to attract potential faculty members to the idea of working and living in Andover. At the People of Color Conference held each November, Phillips Academy was the first school to print a full-page, faculty-recruiting advertisement in the brochure. After a while, other schools began to follow suit. Flavia Vidal, Instructor in English said, “I recently went to the People of Color Conference…you see how envious other schools around the country are of what we have.” Maqubela said, “It comes in waves. There was a time when nine of the faculty members in the chemistry department were faculty members of color.” Sykes said, “[Academic leadership oncampus, which includes department and division chairs], have been very open and eager to make some changes. They’ve been strategizing.” Sykes explained that Mr. Maqubela, Assitant Academic Dean, and Mr. Rogers, Academic Dean, have been working with department chairs to determine “how to bring in to the school more faculty of color” and “actively seeking more candidates of color.” Vidal said, “I think it’s interesting because in some ways if you look at the top administration, there is a lot of diversity. Associate Head of School, Dean of Faculty, Dean of CAMD; all of those positions represent a lot of diversity.” She continued, “Once you get down to individual departments, it becomes a slightly different story. With respect to the English department, we have had only one chair [of color] of the department, back in the late 70’s or 80’d. Vidal asked, “Do we really need to have people of color or women as heads of something to represent a certain diverse philosophy, or can white males push a certain philosophy if they truly believe in it?” “That makes the question much more complex” she added. Some of the faculty of color agreed that Phillips Academy is a welcoming environment. Maqubela said, “Once we are on campus, we feel like we belong.” Linda Carter Griffith, Dean of CAMD said, “I can say I’m comfortable here. I think people vary.” Instructor in English Elly Nyamwaya wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “I am impressed by the support I am being given not only by faculty members within and without my department, but also by administrators…there are institutional policies and structures that create a conducive environment for a person of color to work in.” Despite the fact that the town of Andover is a primarily white suburb, Maqubela said, “The town has gotten used to us. We diversify the town as well.” Nyamwaya said that faculty members of color face the issue of “[making] an effort to fit in but at the same time [asserting] our right to be different.” However, he also feels that Andover does a great deal to lessen these problems. He feels that Phillips Academy has a good number of professional as well as more casual opportunities for faculty to meet regularly to share ideas and experiences. Wrote Nyamwaya in an email, “Eating together in Commons (or Uncommons) provides a rare and wonderful opportunity for students, faculty and their families to celebrate a sense of oneness. This is important.”