Study: Financial Stress Burdens Minority Faculty

Members of the faculty and administrative staff turn their back to the stage in silent protest as Phyllis Schlafly is awarded an honorary degree at the Washington University commencement, Friday, May 16, 2008 in St. Louis. Schlafly, a conservative activist, holds a bachelor's and law degrees from the university.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam) (National Journal)

Black, Latino, and Asian-American faculty at four-year public colleges and universities, particularly those who are not tenured, worry more about personal finances than their white counterparts, a survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California (Los Angeles) shows.

Blacks (72.5 percent) and Latinos (69.2 percent) are more likely than their white counterparts (64.7 percent) to indicate personal finances are the source of their work-life stress.

Faculty without tenure feel even more strain since they generally face additional demands in trying to climb the career ladder, pressured by publishing and research beyond their teaching responsibilities, said Sylvia Hurtado, UCLA professor and director of HERI. "Stress levels vary significantly whether or not they have tenure."

The results of the survey are based on responses from nearly 23,800 full-time faculty at 417 institutions.

This survey is the first to ask faculty about their level of worry regarding budget cuts in their schools. More than 85 percent of Native American faculty said they were stressed about the financial cuts in their schools, followed by multiracial faculty at 80.5 percent.

Financial cuts in public institutions have slashed departments and programs and have ended automatic annual pay increases for faculty at some schools.

Those circumstances, Hurtado says, can add to the level of dissatisfaction at work, which can lead some faculty to seek jobs in private institutions with comparable pay and other perks, such as tuition remission for their children.

Blacks, at 63.6 percent, are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to indicate subtle discrimination as their main source of stress. Meanwhile, whites are more likely to indicate that their colleagues stress them out.