SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The African-American Female Professors Award Association celebrated its sixth anniversary with the first University and College Presidents Ball Saturday night in Springfield.

The night was all about celebrating African-American Female Professors and their accomplishments in their respective fields of academia as well as the impact they have on the communities around them.

African-American women in academia make up only 1% of full-time faculty roles in the country. They are also virtually absent from the faculty at most universities, with 84% of white professors having those full-time roles. Traci Talbert formed the African American Female Professors Association to recognize the notable efforts and voices of these women in academia.

“That number being by 1.1percent, if we don’t let the world know who they are and that we respect them and we appreciate them, we want to uplift their contributions to higher education,” said Traci Talbert of the African American Female Professors Association.

Talbert created the association after being inspired by her college professor Dr. Janine Spinola Taylor. Talbert reminisced on her graduate school days and the moment that identify herself with a professor.

“To see this at this time, I’m completely overwhelmed,” Dr. Janine Spinola expressed. “I’m encouraged and hoping that her story encourages others whatever age however young that they will do the same.”

The goal of the group is to recognize and celebrate African-American female professors and encourage others to pursue advanced studies, ultimately changing the landscape of professors across higher education.

Dr. Shakenna Williams, an award recipient Saturday night, told 22News, “We see in higher education that more people of color are going to get their degrees so it’s great to see representation as leaders within those institutions.”

Within the last six years, the African-American Female Professor Association have honored over 25 college professors and provided scholarships. They hope their group continues to grow and recognize more professors for their notable efforts.