- The State University System of New York (SUNY) plans to hire as many as 1,000 early-to-mid-career professors from underrepresented groups by 2030, doubling the current number, which accounts for about 8% of the system's faculty, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
- The Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion and Growth (PRODiG) proposal hopes to put faculty diversity on a similar upward trajectory as that of SUNY's student body, which rose from 15.4% from underrepresented minority groups in 2007 to 28.5% this past fall.
- PRODiG will be funded through a state Performance Improvement Fund and include three-year salary support grants in STEM. It also will include one-time $5,000 stipends for doctoral students from underrepresented groups and help recruiting students beginning in high school for careers in academia.
The lack of representation among faculty members is gaining attention in higher ed. In the fall of 2016, 76% of full-time faculty members were white, while 6% were black and 5% were Hispanic, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Meanwhile, 36% of 18-to-24-year-olds enrolled in college in 2016 were black, 39% were Hispanic and 42% were white, according Census data reported by NCES. A similar share (42%) identified as two or more races.
In California, for instance, although more than 60% of students in public two- and four-year colleges were racial minorities, less than 40% of the faculty was, according to a report last year from The Campaign for College Opportunity.
Increased faculty diversity is tied to improved student outcomes, which is especially important as colleges do more to grow their enrollment by reaching adult learners and underserved student groups. Racial equity also should be baked into college attainment goals, explained Estela Mara Bensimon, a higher education professor at the University of Southern California.
This inequity is particularly apparent in STEM fields, which is an area of focus for the SUNY program. William Yslas Vélez, an emeritus professor of mathematics at The University of Arizona, has written that increasing diversity among faculty members in fields like his can help bridge a "cultural divide" between the department and the student body.
Doing so was a boon for minority students' success at Rutgers University's School of Business.
The university collaborated with the The PhD project, a nonprofit that supports primarily African American, Latino and Native American students who are pursuing doctorates in business and want to go on to become faculty members. The group hopes that by diversifying faculty, more minority students will be encouraged to study business and help to diversify the workforce.
Other colleges are putting the onus on faculty members.
Kenyon College recently announced it will consider faculty members' diversity and inclusion efforts as a factor for tenure and promotion. The University of California, Los Angeles will require faculty applicants to provide a statement about their contributions to equity, diversity and inclusion. And the University of Missouri is among those that have stepped up recruiting efforts for minority scholars seeking to faculty positions.