Faculty diversity

Let me correct and clarify parts of the recent article about faculty diversity. First, the figures “six, nine and five women or minorities in Divisions I, II, and III, respectively” are not the goals for women or minorities; six, nine and five plus searches in U.S. Latino/a Studies are the total anticipated faculty appointments in those divisions in the coming year. Actually, our hiring goals for women are percentages of new hires (65% in Div. I, 45% in II, and 35% in III). The separate goals for hiring faculty of color are 3-4 faculty in tenure track positions and 2-3 in visiting positions across the College.

Another set of statistics is misleading: while 21% of all Div. I faculty are minorities, those faculty represent 11% of the tenured faculty, i.e., professors and associate professors, and 46% of the non-tenured, assistant professors. Across the divisions, such percentages mask the variety of African American, Latino/a, and Asian faculty within the larger group. In addition, the numbers of faculty of color in senior and junior ranks in all divisions are so small that the departure of just one faculty member changes the diversity of the community. For example, the departure of Craig Wilder makes a considerable difference within the small group of African American faculty.

In addition, at least one assertion is misleading: while the Dean of the Faculty and I encourage departments to look carefully at women and minorities in their pools, we do not “encourage the inclusion of at least one female or minority candidate in the 3-person finalist pool.” We do ask departments to talk with us when women don’t appear in the final pool of a department where large numbers of women are receiving Ph.D.s.

Developing and maintaining the diversity of the faculty is a much more complicated process than suggested by the article. At the hiring stage, since departments still have overwhelming power regarding who they interview as well as who they hire, I find Professor Jackall’s worry that promising scholars are not being looked at because of our affirmative action program extremely puzzling. Has his department really been confronted by a “juggernaut” precluding it making the appointments that its members desire? In addition, a focus on the hiring stage alone overlooks other aspects of our efforts to enhance the diversity of the faculty over time: retaining, promoting, and providing leadership opportunities to previously underrepresented faculty is also important. In that regard, we have some way to go.

Finally, in most discussions about affirmative action there is the sometimes unstated assumption that somehow a diverse faculty equals a less talented faculty. Those of us committed to an affirmative approach to hiring, as well as to student admission, assume that diversity and quality are complementary, not contradictory.

Nancy J. McIntire

Assistant to the President for Affirmative Action and Government Relations