More minorities now leading Mass. colleges
Kenneth J. Cooper | 3/4/2009, 3:52 a.m.
The number of presidents of color at Massachusetts colleges and universities steadily increased during the last decade, reaching a record 10 percent of campus leaders in 2007 and last year, according to statistics compiled by the Banner.
Still, minority representation in the top ranks of the state’s colleges fell short of the national level. In 2006, the last year for which national statistics are available, 14 percent of college presidents were minorities.
Randolph W. Bromery, a black pioneer as a campus leader in Massachusetts, said he was not surprised the state’s performance has been subpar.
“New England has this great sense that it’s liberal and free, but it doesn’t have the numbers of African Americans to deal with,” he said. “New England is not as free as they say they are.”
None of the elite private universities that have given Massachusetts an international reputation for higher education has ever had a president of color. In the last decade, however, the growth in the number of minority presidents in the state has been driven by small private colleges with a lower profile.
In 1971, Bromery became the first person of color to lead one of the state’s colleges as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Two decades later, he took the reins of Springfield College, possibly making him also the first minority to lead a private four-year college in the state.
His leadership of UMass-Amherst made Bromery, now 83 and an Amherst resident, only the second African American in the nation to preside over a historically white college. The first was Clifton R. Wharton Jr., who grew up in Roxbury, at Michigan State University.
Another pioneer in Massachusetts was David T. Shannon, who in 1991 was named president of Andover Newton Theological Seminary, a graduate school. He died last year in Atlanta.
This year, minorities lead 10 of the 111 accredited colleges in Massachusetts, down one from the record high in 2007 and 2008.
Eight of the current leaders are African Americans. The best known are Chancellor J. Keith Motley at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and presidents Jackie Jenkins-Scott of Wheelock College and Theodore C. Landsmark of Boston Architectural College.
Four lead public colleges: Motley, Dana Mohler-Faria at Bridgewater State College, Carole Berotte Joseph at Massachusetts Bay Community College and Terrence A. Gomes at Roxbury Community College.
The other six are at private colleges. Besides Landsmark and Jenkins-Scott, who is a former president of Dimock Community Health Center, they are: Linda Edmonds Turner of the Urban College of Boston, Ronald A. Crutcher of Wheaton College, Elizabeth Chen of the New England College of Optometry and Tito Guerrero, whom Cambridge College hired last month.
Chen is Asian and Guerrero is Hispanic. The other private-college presidents are African American.
Richard Doherty, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts, said private colleges are mindful that an increasing proportion of high school graduates will be minorities as the 21st century unfolds.
“I just think there’s heightened awareness that the student bodies these institutions educate are more diverse and are going to be more diverse in the future,” Doherty said.