“It doesn’t take an empirical study … to see that there are some places where you can see some movement and some where there’s none at all,” he says of the hiring trends.
Christopher Torres, a faculty member at the Ohio State University at Mansfield and the Latino & Latin American Space for Engagement and Research (LASER), said that, as a Latino faculty member, it was little things such as not seeing any faculty of color on the staff portraits in the faculty lounge.
“There are pictures of the faculty over the years, but it isn’t until, I think, the ’80s when there’s only one [faculty member of color]… And it wasn’t until I really started looking at it [that] I started thinking there’s no one really that looks like me,” he says.
The lack of representation led Torres to question a number of things, including, “Do I belong here? What am I doing here?” Jackson says a concerted effort toward hiring and retaining faculty and administrators from diverse backgrounds must be as intentional an effort as recruiting and retaining diverse students.
“If we put our largest emphasis on diversifying a [student] population that is by definition transient, that presents a problem,” he says.
“There’s a great similarity between administrative and faculty diversity” and the diversity of the students choosing to attend an institution, says Jackson. “Unfortunately, many institutions tend to focus [on students] and, in some cases, faculty, but very few [pay attention to the administration].”
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The attention to diversity has to come in more than just hiring goals, such as those set by Duke and Michigan. Attention must also be paid to developing the faculty member through opportunities and experiences on campus, say experts. Jackson recommends considering the role of leadership programs on campus and helping faculty members, once hired, to understand fully what is required for promotion.
“Minorities — women and people of color — tend to enter academic leadership immediately after receiving tenure,” he says, which means “research production suffers.”
But Torres says that, for many faculty of color, it is difficult to avoid those areas and focus exclusively on research and general academic productivity.
“Basically, being a person of color, you’re by default working in diversity and doing service,” he says.
Torres continues, saying, “Three percent of the U.S. population has [a] Ph.D. Of those, 5.9 percent are African-American [and] 5.4 percent are Hispanic.” Not only does this mean there is not a strong enough pipeline for faculty of color, but it also means there are not enough mentors in whom students of color can see reflections of themselves and their potential, he notes.
Jackson argues that the burden of service can’t come at the expense of academic productivity necessary for promotion, admonishing that service activities, such as chairing a department or serving as an adviser to student organizations, do not count toward promotion.