How one college is diversifying its administrative staff

Campus diversity efforts have tended to focus on students and faculty members.

An initiative at the University of California, Berkeley aims to tackle diversity in an often overlooked group—the administrative staff—J. Clara Chan reports in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The university launched the initiative after seeing data on diversity compiled by Jenny Kwon, a special projects administrator in the office of the chancellor at Berkeley. Kwon conducted two studies of diversity at Berkeley and 10 other public universities in California.

She found that administrators at California institutions were not as diverse as their students. Around 65% of managerial staff at 10 of California's public institutions is white, compared with 42% of students. Kwon found that minority staff members were clustered in the lowest job classifications and underrepresented at leadership levels,

Step by step: Create a plan for improving diversity

It was clear to Kwon that diversity among university staff was increasing at a lower rate than diversity among the student body.

In response, Berkeley is starting a professional development program targeting minority midcareer staff members and aiming to repair what Kwon calls "blockages in the pipeline." The program, which is a partnership between university's human resources department and the division of inclusion & equity, will begin in the institution's next fiscal year. It will last six months and include four training sessions.

The training sessions will help staff learn more about topics like negotiation, strategic networking, and the ins-and-outs of a university. Each employee will be sponsored by senior executive administrators who can serve as mentors and career advocates. This aspect of the program is crucial to its success, according to Jo Mackness, interim assistant vice chancellor for human resources (Chain, Chronicle of Higher Education, 6/29).

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