Linda D. Evans has worked as a part-time academic adviser at Community College of Philadelphia for 18 years and has taught there as an adjunct professor almost twice as long.
She's tried five times, most recently in April, to gain a full-time post and has been denied, she said.
She pondered in a recent online opinion piece whether her former role as an "outspoken, visible adjunct faculty union leader" and her relationship to State Rep. Dwight Evans - she's his sister - may have played a role in the denials.
She also said she believes the six-member all-white interviewing committee she faced may have opted against her for another reason: because she is African American.
"As I told a close friend of mine after the interview, I wish I had performed like the late Prince or Beyoncé," she wrote on July 25 at the website opednews.com. "African Americans must always be twice as good as non-African Americans. In some cases, non-African Americans can be mediocre yet still achieve success without the scrutiny leveled at African Americans."
Her complaint is the second in less than a year alleging that the college discriminates against African Americans in faculty hiring.
Brarailty "Rel" Dowdell, an African American filmmaker, claimed in a federal lawsuit filed in December that the college discriminated against him based on his race and sex by denying him a full-time teaching job as a member of the English department.
Community college officials took sharp exception to the allegations.
"I don't know the particulars of Linda Evans but I know we have been quite successful in being able to recruit some fine faculty of color," said CCP president Donald "Guy" Generals. "We continue to be proactive in extending and expanding our pool and marketing for diversity. . . . We are very inclusive when you look at the totality of our environment."
Seven of the 14 members on the college's board of trustees are African American, as are Generals and several of his top cabinet members. So are the chairs of the chemistry and biology departments.
The college also noted that it hired seven people for the new academic advising position for which Evans had applied: Three African Americans, one Latina, and three whites.
Generals declined to comment on Dowdell's lawsuit. But in the college's response filed in court, the school said Dowdell did not have the required master's degree in English, composition, or a closely related field. His master's in film, the college contended, did not qualify. The college noted that it also passed over a white female for the job who had a master's degree in education from Harvard.
Dowdell, who has worked for the college as an adjunct faculty member for more than 12 years, said he made it through initial interviews with the department hiring committee twice, but was snubbed by two female administrators, one white and one black.
A Central High School graduate, Dowdell is best known for his films Train Ride, about a date rape on a college campus, and Changing the Game, about a black man who rises out of a Philadelphia neighborhood only to confront corruption on Wall Street. The latter was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.
Evans, a Philadelphia native who got her doctorate in adult education from Temple University and has two master's degrees, one in counseling, said CCP's statistics are cause enough for alarm. Although 58 percent of the student body is African American, only 19 percent of full-time faculty are African American and 72 percent are white, according to the college's most recent statistics.
"There's a problem at that college," she said on a recent WURD talk show.
Generals disputed the assertion and pointed to a database by the Chronicle of Higher Education that showed the college in 2013 (most recent year available) had one of the most diverse faculties racially of schools in the region.
"Can we do better? Of course," he said.
But, he said, African American faculty with the required advanced degrees and other qualifications sometimes are difficult to attract and keep.
"We have found that often times they are at a premium and the competition is quite stiff," he said.
For the 2016-17 academic year, the college hired 27 faculty, eight of them - or 30 percent - African American, 14 white, two Hispanic, and three Asian.
In the prior two years, a smaller percentage of African Americans were hired. Of 12 full-time faculty brought on in 2015-16, seven were white, two black, two Asian, and one unknown. Of the 18 hired the year before, 13 were white, two Hispanic, and three African American.
"It's not just about ethnicity," said Lynette Brown-Sow, the college's vice president for marketing and government relations, who is African American. "I think it's about quality and people who are culturally competent and so if you can relate to students, it doesn't make a difference on race. It makes a difference whether you can help a student achieve and succeed."
The hiring of faculty is governed in part by the union contract, which prescribes that a committee made up of faculty from the discipline with the opening interview candidates whom the human resources department said "meet" or "may meet" qualifications. The committee makes recommendations to administrators including the department head and dean and vice presidents. Generals did not get involved in the selection of the academic advisers, he said.
The college's director of equity and diversity or his designee serves as a nonvoting member of the committee and trains members on nondiscrimination policies, said Victoria Zellers, the college's general counsel.
Zellers took exception to Evans' claim that the hiring committee was all white. But she declined to disclose its makeup except to note that not every member sits in on every interview.
Steve Jones, co-president of the Faculty & Staff Federation, declined comment on Dowdell's or Evans' cases but said the union agrees that more African American faculty are needed and has been working with the administration. The college, he said, is looking to strengthen a program that helps adjunct minority faculty prepare for full-time jobs.
The union, he said, is "interested in having a full-time faculty that is more diverse and that also better reflects the ethnic and racial makeup of the city of Philadelphia."