As of 2020, the Southern University Law Center has been ranked as having the most diverse faculty of all law schools in the nation, a title it has had the distinction of holding several times throughout the years. With the Southern University System being the only historically Black school system in the U.S., the recognition of diversity is particularly relevant in our current era.
The conversation of diversity has become an active one, particularly in reference to representation in academia. A study released by the National Center for Educational Statistics in 2017 addresses this: “Of all full-time faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in fall 2017, 41 percent were White males; 35 percent were White females; 6 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander males; 5 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander females; and 3 percent each were Black males, Black females, Hispanic males, and Hispanic females.1 Those who were American Indian/Alaska Native and those who were of Two or more races each made up 1 percent or less of full-time faculty.”
The disparity in diverse educators is prompting much acknowledgement, especially when the growth of diversity in students is noted, “The percentage of American college students who are Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Black has been increasing…The percentage of Black students increased from 10 percent in 1976 to 14 percent in 2016.”
Professor Genora Harris from Monroe, Louisiana expressed her own pride in this recognition, especially as a graduate of the SULC herself. “Diversity for us means that we get to show that an HBCU can be diverse,” she explains,”It’s not only for African Americans, but it’s for all individuals. That is what we were established on: that everyone can get an education no matter who you are, no matter what gender or race. So it’s a big move for Southern University and an awesome move for us, in that we get to touch every aspect of different cultures, races and genders. It’s inclusion, it’s everything to us. It’s a wonderful experience, especially as a professor.” Professor Harris’ testimony reflects the sentiment of many, particularly her own students.
Michael Amenyah, a graduate of Georgia State University and native of Athens, Georgia spoke on the unique atmosphere that the SULC faculty introduced him to,”One thing I can say, the reason I came to Southern is because for me diversity is everything. I really never fit in one box, I grew up basically between two worlds. I was either too African or I wasn’t Black enough growing up. So for me, at Southern it doesn’t matter where you’re from or who your parents are. Everybody treats you like a family.” Amenyah’s experience gives a much needed insight into the importance of faculty diversity, and why the Southern University Law Center is recognized for serving this purpose.