ARC Seminar: Lourdes Follins: Experiences and Perceptions of Historically Underrepresented Faculty at Three CUNY Community Colleges
Nationwide, nearly half of all community college students come from populations that have been historically underrepresented in higher education. For this study, populations that are “historically underrepresented” are defined as people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgenders, and queer people (LGBTQ); women (in certain fields and positions); and the disabled. Research demonstrates that historically underrepresented faculty members (HURF) enrich the overall education of all students, and yet many community colleges have difficulty recruiting and retaining faculty that mirror their student body. While some HURF have positive experiences, a significant number of these faculty members describe their college campuses as unwelcoming. Factors that make campuses unwelcoming for HURF include but are not limited to: isolation and marginalization; salary disparities; microaggressions based on ability, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual identity; heightened visibility; and additional role demands. This presentation provides preliminary findings from the first faculty-led, qualitative study in CUNY history that explores the experiences and perceptions of historically underrepresented faculty at CUNY’s community colleges. The study specifically explores HURF members’ experiences in the areas of recruitment, retention, promotion, and tenure.
 For this study, “people of color” includes Arab/Middle Eastern, Asian Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Latino, Multiracial/Biracial, and Native American individuals who do not identify as White/European American.
Lourdes Dolores Follins is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Kingsborough Community College, where she has been teaching since 2004. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Social Work from New York University in 2003. Before entering the academy, Lourdes Dolores worked with and on behalf of people of color as a social worker, a psychotherapist, and an organizational consultant for 15 years. Her honors include a National Institute of Mental Health (2008-2012) Minority Research Fellowship and a 2015-2016 CUNY Chancellor’s Research Award. Lourdes Dolores’ research interests are in two broad areas: (1) health disparities faced by LGBT people of color and (2) faculty inclusion, equity, and diversity at community colleges. Her projects in progress include a co-edited book about the health of Black LGBT people in the US, a co-edited book about Black LGBT health across the globe, and a faculty-led, multi-site study of historically underrepresented faculty at three of CUNY’s community colleges.