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Academy, AAUP Confronted on Low Faculty Diversity


Faculty members concerned about diversity took the academy as well as the American Association of University Professors to task for not doing enough to promote diversity at one session of AAUP’s 93rd annual meeting, “Telling the Truth at Difficult Times,” which started June 7 and concluded Sunday.

“Every time I come to AAUP, maybe I need to have my glasses checked, [but] it’s always been a [predominately] White organization,” said Dr. Anne Friedman, vice president for community colleges at Professional Staff Congress, a union that represents City University of New York workers. “We talk about issues of race and diversity among students, but we need to also talk about issues of race and diversity among faculty.”

Friedman was one of nearly 30 faculty and staff members who attended the “What’s Race Got to Do with It? Social Disparities and Student Success” panel hoping to get answers on how to recruit and retain minority faculty and staff at their institutions.

This is the breakdown by race/ethnicity of full-time faculty for 2003 according to U.S. Department of Education, IPEDS Fall Staff Survey; EEOC, EEO-6 Survey: White 81 percent; Black 5 percent; Hispanic 3 percent; Asian 6.5 percent; American Indian less than 1 percent; race/ethnicity unknown 1 percent; and non-resident alien 3.3 percent.

They shared their experiences of racism and some universities’ deferred efforts to diversify their institutions as part of a discussion to identify the problem behind low faculty diversity. Some blamed institutional racism, which they agreed to be the most dangerous form of racism, yet the most prominent on their campuses.

 “We are our own enemies,” said Dr. Marybeth Gasman, chair of the AAUP Committee on Historically Black Institutions and Scholars of Color and assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

“When I was in grad school and decided to do my dissertation on philanthropy and African Americans in higher education, I was pulled aside by a senior faculty member who said, ‘I know you’re interested in this but you will be ghettoized if you do this, not get published or find a job.’” 

Gasman said many students of color are given this same message and a lot of faculty “poo-poo” on their ideas, which is why having a diverse faculty is critical. 

 “It’s not enough just to recognize that there is a problem,” said Iris DeLutro, Professional Staff Congress vice president of cross campus unit. “We need to look at data, who are the institutions that rank the lowest in diversity; not what the institution say but what they practices because institutional racism is so subtle in these universities. Diversity is beyond the number of students of color enrolled, but faculty and staff as well.”

Gasman said that the committee on HBIS, one of the few committees that represent a diverse population at AAUP, has been making strides in addressing the issue, including an upcoming workshop on recruiting and retaining faculty of color.

She also told the group that their feedback will be taken to AAUP.

The discussion began with a viewing of the documentary film, “What’s Race Got to Do with It? Social Disparities and Student Success.” The 49-minute film, by California Newsreel which produces film and video promoting social change, chronicles the experiences of a group of students from diverse backgrounds and their interactions in a 16-week intergroup dialogue program at the University of California, Berkley.

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