Student protests mean more faculty diversity initiatives

This is one of the major issues of our moment

Low levels of diversity in higher education administration and faculty contributed to protests over racial tensions on campus last year, Matt Zalaznick reports for University Business.  

As a result of those protests, many institutions pledged to hire more minority administrators, which means colleges must both foster professional development and diversify Ph.D. programs, says Jonathan Holloway, dean of Yale University's liberal arts college and an African-American studies professor.

"This is one of the major issues of our moment," Holloway says. "It is about identifying talent early, dedicating resources and time to make sure that talent fully develops from a scholarly perspective, and then fostering deep relationships and loyalty so that the faculty feel invested in their home institution and don't leave."

At the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), minority groups earn 13% of doctorates, a significantly higher rate than the national average of 5% to 6%. President Freeman Hrabowski attributes the success to a post-doctoral fellowship that assigns new Ph.D. students to mentors, providing research and teaching opportunities, and a strong financial aid program.

"Institutions have not spent enough time or resources focused on this problem as a top priority," says Hrabowski.

The Consortium for Faculty Diversity also runs a fellowship program: each of its 48 member schools sponsor at least one pre- or post-doctoral minority fellow annually. Each institution is encouraged to predict when faculty positions will open up, and the consortium maintains a database of fellows for its members as a potential hiring resource for the schools.

The Ph.D. Project, meanwhile, encourages minority students to study business, and works to diversify faculty in business schools by recruiting from the corporate sector, says founder Bernard Milano. The organization also provides developmental sessions. Approximately 1,000 project members now teach in business schools.

"The only way to become more diverse now is to hire faculty from other schools," Milano says. "What's lacking is the willingness to come together and create a national initiative that adds to the pool" (Zalaznick, University Business, accessed 2/22). 


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