March 26, 2003
REPORT RECOMMENDS STEPS TO BOLSTER FACULTY DIVERSITY
SPRINGFIELD - Saying that colleges and universities
are missing opportunities to diversify their faculties, a
report to be presented to the Illinois Board of Higher Education
(IBHE) next week recommends measures that campuses and the
state can take to broaden the diversity of teaching ranks.
The Board will meet at 9 a.m., April 1 in Room 302 of Vermilion
Hall at Danville Area Community College.
"As the face of our nation and state has changed, our
faculty has not changed along with it," the study of
faculty diversity concludes. "There is no area of higher
education that is less diverse."
The report also concludes that faculty diversity-including
more minorities, more women in underrepresented disciplines,
and more faculty with disabilities-will strengthen learning
opportunities for all students. It recommends steps to better
develop pools of available minority candidates for faculty
positions, to ensure that diversity is a central component
of campus job searches, to create a climate hospitable to
diverse groups, and to engage higher education leadership
in making diversity a part of the campus DNA.
The study, Opportunities for Leadership: Strategies for Improving
Faculty Diversity in Illinois Higher Education, is the outgrowth
of a report on access and diversity in student enrollment
which the Board approved in August 2001. The faculty study
involved public hearings, including a web-based hearing; focus
groups on campus leadership and other issues; consultations
with national and state experts; and analysis of research
and information from Illinois colleges and universities.
Among its findings, the study cited national research and
Illinois surveys demonstrating that students, parents, and
citizens place a high premium on the role of college to help
prepare them to live and work in a diverse world. It also
noted that faculty play a pivotal role in helping students
achieve that goal. But the study further concluded that faculty
representation among African-Americans and Latinos is "shockingly
low," particularly considering those groups comprise
nearly 30 percent of Illinois' population.
The report suggests colleges look at a largely untapped pool
of potential minority faculty right under their noses: African-American
and Latino graduates of master's degree programs. The study
found that while the percentage of minority master's degree
recipients remains low, the number of recipients has grown
significantly during the nineties and today constitutes an
underused resource for diversifying faculty ranks, particularly
at community colleges.
The study recommends other actions at both the campus and
state level to broaden faculty diversity, including:
- Revamping two state-funded, minority graduate incentive
programs to place a stronger emphasis on placement of their
graduates in faculty positions.
- Rethinking academic searches with structural and procedural
changes, strengthening the roles of deans and department
chairs, and weeding out subtle impediments that can unintentionally
work against minority candidates, such as narrowly construing
job descriptions and a narrow reading of resumes.
- Taking the temperature of campus climate to determine
whether policies and practices create a welcoming environment
for faculty of diverse backgrounds.
- Convening statewide workshops to showcase strategies that
can increase minority enrollment in graduate studies.
- Creating a state job bank of master's degree and doctoral
recipients as a resource for colleges seeking to expand
- Offering budgetary rewards in FY2006 for colleges and
universities that have succeeded in diversifying their faculties
The report notes that the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to
rule by early summer on a case challenging affirmative action
measures in student admissions at the University of Michigan,
a decision that could have implications for some recommendations
contained in the study on faculty diversity. Hence, the Board
of Higher Education will not take final action on the study
until its scheduled August meeting.
Full Faculty Diversity Report :
for Leadership: Strategies for Improving Faculty Diversity
in Illinois Higher Education