New approaches to boosting faculty member diversity
- With non-white students making up half of its enrollment, California Lutheran University has taken a close look at the lack of diversity on its 80% white faculty and found new ways to attract and keep instructors from minority groups.
- The college, located in Thousand Oaks, paid consultants $100,000 to revamp its recruitment and hiring practices, resulting in advertisements designed to attract more diverse candidates, as well as some that focus on the diversity of its students. It also restructured the pipeline of employment candidates with an emphasis on word-of-mouth connections on and off campus, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Cal Lutheran also has developed an anti-bias checklist for four stages of the search process: job announcements; application reviews; reference checks, phone interviews and choosing finalists; and campus visits by finalists. A dean has to sign off on each of the four steps after checking for bias.
In its 2017 report, the National Center for Education Statistics showed 83% of the full professors in postsecondary colleges were white, 10% were Asian/Pacific Islander, 4% were black, and 3% were Hispanic in 2015. The number of minority professors has risen in recent years, but not as fast as the number of minority students, and advocates say minority professor recruitment should become a focus of colleges.
A report from the Brookings Institute shows that a big part of the unequal representation of minorities and women is due to major gaps in the STEM fields, a problem that isn’t recognized often enough by college administrators or critics of their progress.
Research shows diversity pays off with higher levels of student and staff satisfaction and better performance. Rutgers University officials say an effort by the business school to recruit more minority faculty improved recruitment of top minority students and made them more successful in the corporate world.
Colleges have tried a variety of methods to recruit minority faculty. The University of Missouri and Clemson University have initiated programs to find potential candidates by recruiting students seeking advanced degrees. Others have changed the content of their advertising and carefully considered new placement in locations where minority candidates might more likely see it.
In hiring, colleges also attempt to tamp down bias. Bentley University offers a two-hour workshop to members of the search committee about implicit and individual bias and has taken other measures to ensure the process is fair. Duke requires about 80% of its faculty to go through bias training as part of an effort to develop a climate where minority faculty members can thrive. Other institutions are considering new ways to make them feel comfortable in the school and local community -- and an authentic part of leadership.
Boston College and University of California, Riverside both avoided setting numerical goals and used “cluster hiring” of faculty into interdisciplinary research areas.
Colleges also have made other greater efforts to retain minority faculty members, including establishing diversity officers who can spot problems and recommend improvements. The Chronicle, in a separate article, lists six other ways colleges can keep a diverse staff, and where “equity, inclusion, and diversity become a part of everyday campus life.”
- Chronicle of Higher Education How Serious Are You About Diversity Hiring?