CSU Hiring Policy Inconsistent For Minorities, Women

SACRAMENTO

 Inconsistent hiring practices at the 23 California State University campuses have led to diversity among professors and executives in some departments but not others, a state audit found Tuesday.

The CSU system has no way to gauge whether its professors and executives, or even the job candidates it attracts, reflect the available labor pool of women and minorities, as it is required to do under federal law, the California State Auditor reported.

While some campuses consider gender and ethnicity when they set up search committees for professors, others forbid considering those factors, the auditor found.

The report said that although the CSU Board of Trustees delegated hiring authority to individual campuses, it gave them little guidance on how to make those hiring decisions. The board is made up of the governor, state superintendent of education and other top state officials.

“In contrast, the University of California has developed guidelines stating that a special effort should be made to ensure that minorities and women have equal opportunity to serve on search committees,” the report said.

The auditor recommended that CSU develop an affirmative action plan and that it advertise executive-level positions in publications aimed at women and minorities.

The findings come a week after a jury awarded the former women’s basketball coach at Fresno State $19.1 million for unlawful termination, after she claimed she was fired for threatening to expose the school’s unequal treatment of women athletes and coaches. The university contends that Stacy Johnson-Klein was fired because of her job performance and issues related to player safety and has said it plans to appeal.

In July, Fresno State’s former volleyball coach Lindy Vivas won $5.85, an amount judge later reduced to $4.52 million, in a similar lawsuit. The university settled a third case for $3.5 million.

The auditor’s report included a review of employment discrimination lawsuits over a five-year period, but its assessment of hiring practices for professors and executive-level positions focused on just five CSU campuses: Fullerton, Long Beach, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco.

CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed said the university system has struggled to balance the federal affirmative action requirements with California’s voter-approved anti-discrimination law, Proposition 209, which prevents employers from giving preferential treatment to candidates based on gender or ethnicity.

“We have emphasized inclusion systemwide, rather than policies that target specific underrepresented groups, as the best way to balance the competing regulations,” Reed said in a statement. “We believe this strategy has produced an extremely diverse CSU work force.”

Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, said that any diversity in the work force is due to faculty efforts, not university policy. She said other institutions have found ways to comply with Proposition 209 since it was approved in 1996.

“The chancellor needs to figure out a way to work with it like everybody else has. Proposition 209 doesn’t prevent the system from hiring a diverse professorship,” Taiz said.

The review was requested by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

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