College reports on faculty diversity

Last Wednesday, the Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity presented their annual report on faculty hiring and diversity to the faculty. The report addressed the problem of underrepresentation of U.S. minority groups and women in specific academic disciplines at the College. In addition, the report discussed the role of pipeline programs, which aim to address underrepresentation at the College and in the broader academic community through a comprehensive approach that spans various academic levels and involves different colleges and universities.

According to the report, 42 percent and 20 percent of full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty are women and from U.S. minority groups respectively. However, in an interview with the Record, Karen Swann, associate dean for institutional diversity and the Herbert H. Lehman Professor of English, explained that these numbers do not provide much insight into the demographics of specific departments. “Williams College is putting in a lot of energy and efforts to ensure faculty diversity at a departmental level,” Swann said.

The report found that there is still a shortage of female faculty in the sciences. The disparity can be partly attributed to the fact that the overall pool of Ph.D candidates lacks diversity. The report highlighted several potential consequences of these racial and gender disparities on the educational system and on society as a whole.

First, because many U.S. minority students lack exposure to, and relationships with, faculty from the same minority groups, they do not envision themselves pursuing an academic career. In order to encourage underrepresented students to consider academic career paths, the College offers special fellowships, including the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, which is a national program, and the Allison Davis Summer Research Fellowship, which is a program unique to the College, Both fellowships are granted to students who are strongly considering pursuing a Ph.D. and an academic career and who are from groups historically and currently underrepresented

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in academia and are committed to increasing minority representation in higher education.

The College is also a member of the Creating Connections Consortium (C3) together with Middlebury and Connecticut College. The Consortium seeks to strengthen diversity and innovation through enhanced interactions between liberal arts colleges and research universities. According to the C3 website, “C3 capitalizes on a dialogue that began in 2008 among the diversity officers and academic leaders of the member-schools of the Liberal Arts Diversity Officers Consortium (LADO) and with colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University.”

This year, the C3 received a $4.7 million three-year grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and in each of the first three years of the grant, 12 underrepresented graduate students from partner research universities will be offered the opportunity to become C3 Fellows and receive funding for two years to teach and conduct academic research at Williams, Middlebury and Connecticut. C3 will facilitate the process of identifying specific curricular needs at the host colleges and defining a pool of outstanding postdoctoral candidates with the capacities to meet those needs.

The College is committed to making necessary efforts to support diverse environments for students and faculty.