Why Isn’t My Professor Black?

Yewande Okuleye, UCL Alumni and Doctoral researcher

Now, that is a loaded question. What do you know – the Elephant in the room is coming into focus.

I have spent the last 14years in different English Universities, so I think I know a thing or two about “what goes on behind the scenes” in Higher Education Institutions. At a point, I had the distinct pleasure of being a student and lecturer at the same time.

I never asked “Why my professor was not black?” or “Why my professor was not a black woman?” Which would have been a more relevant and pertinent question. I just accepted the status quo. In hindsight,this was rather cowardly of me, considering I was teaching my students to question and challenge ideas and assumptions within the bodies of knowledge they were encountering in their coursework.

Why is this an important question? I hear you ask. Surely, the number of professors reflects the Black population in England. That was the lazy assumption I made years ago.There is no correlation between the two factors.

Did you know there are 18,510 professors in UK universities and only 85 are Black? More significantly, the number of Black professors have remained the same for the last 8 years.

What is going on here? Why is this an important problem /trend which we should address? What are the contributing factors? What solutions can be offered? Who will implement these solutions? When will they be implemented?

Is this another talking shop? Should I have gone to the pub instead?

These are some of the questions which should be raised next Monday, 10th March at University College London with the following speakers attempting to address the question at the “Why is my professor not black?” event

Professor Michael Arthur, Chair, UCL President and Provost
Dr William Ackah, Panel Member, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Lisa Amanda Palmer, Panel Member, Newman University
Dr Shirley Tate, Panel Member, University of Leeds
Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman, Panel Member, UCL

I am an Alumna of UCL. I was drawn to UCL because it was the first University in England to accept students, irrespective of their race or religion. I look forward to hearing Professor Michael Arthur’s contribution and I have high expectations that UCL will extend the values of inclusiveness and diversity to their academic community.

If you are concerned about inequality within Higher Education and you can raise eloquent questions or offer solutions to ” real-life” problems, then this is an event you should consider attending.

I recommend you get tickets early,as the organisers had to find a bigger room because the event was over subscribed.

I would like to give one of my readers a ticket and an opportunity to write a guest post about the event. If this captures your imagination and you would like to share your opinions with an engaged audience contact me . Please note the ticket will be on a first come basis.

For those of you who thrive on statistics,the Higher Education Statistics Agency offers more data for you to ruminate and reflect on.

This article originally appeared in Yewande’s London

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