From the CEO

Since 1995, the number of ethnic minorities in the U.S. population increased from 27 percent to 34 percent. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2060, ethnic minorities will make up nearly 51 percent of the U.S. population. These changes in the nation's demographics challenge our discipline and our association to ensure that our students, colleagues, members and institutional/organizational cultures reflect the nation's diversity.

A recent report from the APA Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in Psychology (CEMRRAT) is a great example of our efforts to help psychology remain relevant in this changing demographic landscape. In 1997, CEMRRAT developed its Plan for Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training. The latest report, A Portrait of Success and Challenge, provides information on progress made since 1997 in addressing barriers to ethnic-minority education and advancement in psychology, and the status of ethnic minorities in APA and psychology's educational pipeline. This outstanding progress report was authored by the new CEMRRAT Task Force (CEMRRAT2) and the APA Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs.

Strategies for success

Some of the report's findings are intriguing. Between 1998 and 2003, total APA student affiliate membership declined by 25.9 percent, while minority student affiliate membership increased by 28.7 percent. Between 1997 and 2004, ethnicminority participation in APA governance rose by 41.2 percent. Between 1996 and 2004, ethnic-minority recipients of master's degrees in psychology increased by 90.8 percent, while ethnic-minority doctoral recipients in psychology increased by 16.6 percent.

The report highlights strategies the CEMRRAT2 task force and others are using to effect change. The task force oversees the 1997 APA/CEMRRAT Plan and assumed responsibility for implementing critical activities. For example, the task force developed brochures including the "Psychology Education and Careers Guidebook" series for students of color, "Diversity and Accreditation," and "How to Recruit and Hire Ethnic Minority Faculty." The CEMRRAT task force established a Textbook Initiative Work Group that published the booklet "Toward an Inclusive Psychology: Infusing the Introductory Psychology Textbook with Diversity Content."

The group also conceptualized a model "pipeline" program for recruiting, retaining and training minority students. Since 1998, the program has attracted more than $4 million in funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, involved 15 academic institutions, and engaged 562 ethnic-minority undergraduates in mentored research--147 of whom have enrolled in graduate training, including 74 currently in doctoral programs and 16 who have earned doctoral degrees.

One of the task force's most visible strategies for encouraging change is the CEMRRAT Implementation Fund. Since 1999, this APA-funded program has awarded 153 small grants totaling nearly $550,000 in support of innovative activities, including training for linguistic minorities, ethnic-minority participation in math and science research and training, and professional development related to multicultural issues. Grantees have leveraged more than $400,000 in additional funding. The task force also awards the Richard M. Suinn Award to honor doctoral psychology programs with a record of excellence in ethnic-minority recruitment, retention, training and graduation.

Finally, the task force facilitated the election of 11 of the 15 original CEMRRAT members on at least 22 APA governance groups--contributing to diversity in APA's governance, and planting the CEMRRAT vision throughout the association.

Future action

The CEMRRAT progress report concludes that from 1997 to 2005, the greatest effort was made to "help psychology trainers, educators become literate in multicultural issues and facilitate the inclusion of multicultural topics in classroom and field experience." Some of the least effort was devoted to improving "recruitment and retention of ethnic-minority faculty."

Consequently, the task force reports that U.S. psychology has experienced tremendous success in "confronting and aggressively addressing barriers to improvement in ethnic minority recruitment, retention, training and advancement in psychology." The task force also notes the existence of "major areas of concern where to date, little transformative effort has been made relative to the extant need." In response, the progress report outlines a future plan of action, including six priority recommendations and 15 strategic actions.

My congratulations go to CEMRRAT2 Task Force members A. Toy Caldwell-Colbert, PhD, James Freeman, PhD, Frederick T.L. Leong, PhD, and Ena Vazquez-Nuttall, EdD, who have been diligent stewards of the association's ethnic-minority recruitment, retention and training efforts, and helped us shape a vision for the future.

Further Reading

More information on CEMRRAT is available at APA's Public Interest: Ethnic Minority Affairs Office. A Portrait of Success and Challenge--The Progress Report: 1997-2005 is available at APA's Public Interest: Ethnic Minority Affairs Office.