SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — The African American Teachers’ Award Association celebrated its sixth anniversary with the inaugural University and College Presidents’ Ball Saturday night in Springfield.
The evening was intended to celebrate African-American female professors and their achievements in their respective academic fields as well as the impact they have on the communities around them.
African-American women in academia make up just 1% of full-time faculty positions nationwide. They are also virtually absent from the faculty of most universities, with 84% of white professors holding these positions full-time. Traci Talbert formed the Association of African American Women Teachers to recognize the remarkable efforts and voices of these women in academia.
“That number being 1.1%, if we don’t let the world know who they are and that we respect and appreciate them, we want to increase their contributions to higher education,” said Traci Talbert of the African American Female Teachers. Association.
Talbert created the association after being inspired by her university professor, Dr. Janine Spinola Taylor. Talbert recalled her graduate years and when she identified with a professor.
“To see this right now, I’m completely overwhelmed,” said Dr Janine Spinola. “I am encouraged and hope that her story will encourage others, regardless of age, to do the same.”
The group’s goal is to recognize and celebrate African-American female professors and encourage others to pursue advanced studies, thereby changing the landscape of professors in higher education.
Dr Shakenna Williams, recipient of the award on Saturday night, told 22News: “We are seeing in higher education that more people of color will be graduating, so it’s great to see representation as leaders within these institution.”
Over the past six years, the Association of African American Women Teachers has honored more than 25 college professors and provided scholarships. They hope their group will continue to grow and recognize more teachers for their outstanding efforts.