Tammy Rice


Challenging the Lack of Faculty Diversity in Higher Education and the Resulting Impact on Underrepresented Students: A Social Justice Perspective on Social Work Education and the Role of Social Work Educators


Understanding how students learn and the significance of from whom they learn can provide educators insight into how to approach their work. Creating inclusive social work programs that are informed by an understanding of the impact of culture and climate on students can also have implications for social work practice. Although the number of Black and Hispanic/Latino/a/x students enrolled in social work programs is increasing, social work faculty remain predominantly White despite a growing understanding of the importance of faculty diversity in higher education and the benefits such diversity provides to students. At a time when the population of the United States is growing more diverse, social work programs remain embedded in institutions that are failing to make progress in diversifying academia. This significant social injustice directly impacts students. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics calls for social workers to act in the face of social injustice, and social work educators should be at the forefront of challenging the failure of higher education to diversify sufficiently. This presentation will examine the state of research into faculty diversity, its impact on students, and how the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) provided by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) allow social work programs to remain complicit in institutional failures to diversify the faculty. Understanding the challenge of creating significant change at educational institutions, the presentation examines one way that social work programs can support underrepresented students in the absence of congruent faculty.


Tammy M. Rice has practiced as a professional social worker for over thirty years and is licensed by the state of Georgia as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Ms. Rice earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Georgia Southern College and her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Georgia. She is a doctoral candidate (DSW) at the University of Kentucky. Her professional social work career began in Chicago, Illinois, where she worked with families involved with the child welfare system and as a therapist for children, adolescents, and young adults. She has worked with individuals impacted by family violence, children and youth experiencing homelessness and mental health challenges, individuals of all ages across the LGBTQ+ community, and adults living with AIDS and HIV. She is a tenured faculty member and the BSW Program Director at Dalton State College in Dalton, Georgia.

Ms. Rice’s scholarship interests include public policy, democratic engagement (voting is social work), and undergraduate student participation in community-engaged and community-based participatory research. Additionally, addressing the mental health challenges that undergraduate students face and investigating best practices for supporting students in baccalaureate programs of study are priorities. Her capstone research focuses on Hispanic and Latino/a/x undergraduates and the challenges for students that stem from the lack of faculty diversity across higher education. She believes that social work educators are, first and foremost, social workers and should be at the forefront of addressing issues of inequity for students and challenging institutional systemic racism and oppressive practices.