Date: April 10, 2017
One of the ways in which the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) advances its mission is through a priority area called Diversifying Academia. Monday’s lecture -- Integrating Inclusion and Equity into the Academy by Dr. Samuel Museus from the University of Indiana at Bloomington -- underscored the importance of this priority. And as Dr. Museus implored, diversity alone is not sufficient. The integration of inclusion and equity is a critical component of what he calls a "culturally engaged campus," a campus on which faculty of all backgrounds thrive.
It does very little good to produce diversity if we’re not retaining people who want to stay here to make an intellectual and student community.
The racial diversity of faculty -- both across the University of Michigan (U-M) and higher education institutions across the country -- is not representative of the US as a whole, which is an indicator of institutional barriers for people of color in getting to (and remaining in) faculty roles. In the graph below, we see that at U-M, white faculty are overrepresented relative to their US population, whereas Hispanic and Black faculty are very underrepresented. Multi-racial, Native American, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander faculty are virtually invisible at U-M relative to their US population.
A former Asian American studies professor, Dr. Museus noted the "Asian" metric on the chart. He notes that Asians appear to be overrepresented at U-M, but the data didn’t clarify the number of Asian Americans versus Asians from abroad included in this metric.
The chart below shows Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) faculty representation in US higher education institutions. Although AAPI faculty are overrepresented in many STEM fields, they are underrepresented in most of the social sciences. Again, this is an indicator that there are institutional barriers to AAPI people entering and staying in these fields as faculty.
The Benefits of a Diverse Faculty
Dr. Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, underscored for us the importance of having faculty from a variety of backgrounds and lived experiences working together: "We cannot argue this fact: Having more diverse perspectives results in better intellectual work; whether it’s science as a function of problem solving, or humanities as a function of trying to understand different human experiences. The field will be impoverished without diverse perspectives."
Moreover, having faculty from different backgrounds is important for students to see. During the event discussion, one point that was raised is the often-reported fact that for many people, seeing someone who looks like them makes that field seem more accessible, and thus more students of different backgrounds are more likely to consider that field as an option to pursue.
As NCID director Tabbye Chavous said, there is no single toolkit for addressing these issues, but Dr. Museus provided the following suggestions for departments in integrating equity and inclusion into the hiring and tenure-evaluation processes:
Dr. Museus' Tools and Resources for Integrating Inclusion and Equity into the Academy
- Target identity-based professional groups relevant to your field.
- At some institutions, the administration is asking faculty to compare their candidate pool to external numbers (much like the graphs above). This is a measure to ensure that the department is doing a sufficient job of advertising the position to a wide scholar base.
- Create the role of "chief diversity officer." Below is more information on one of the roles of Rob Sellers, U-M’s chief diversity officer:
- Reflect on your implicit biases. Understanding your own implicit biases can work as a personal check on yourself when evaluating potential candidates.
- Pay scholars of color what they're worth. "Faculty of color face disparities in pay, even when controlling for productivity, education, number of years in field," said Dr. Museus. He urges hiring committees to understand the value in having a variety of perspectives and scholarly approaches, and ensuring that you attract and retain faculty of color is part of cultivating that environment. Dr. Museus also noted that, intentionally or not, faculty of color are often pressured to be on "diversity" committees, mentor students of color, and participate in other related activities that diverts their attention from their scholarship and teaching. If faculty of color are expected to do these activities (consciously or not), they should be paid for them.
- Embed equity and inclusion into the evaluation of candidates. Although the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion is undeniable, it is normal for job announcements to not include anything about them when it comes to qualifications. Include DE&I skills and contributions in job announcements to show that you value those attributes in candidates.
- Ask for help from those who know how. Beginning on April 15, 2017 campuses can register through NITE for the 2017-2018 Culturally Engaging Campus Environments (CECE) surveys. NITE also offers services in the form of surveys, analyses, consultation, seminars, workshops, etc.
- Faculty Candidate Evaluation Rubric. The National Institute for Transformation and Equity (NITE), of which Dr. Museus is the director, provides institutions with resources for integrating inclusion and equity in the academy. Click the image below for a rubric to use during candidate evaluation.
Dr. Sellers' Closing Remarks
In closing, Dr. Sellers urged faculty to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to seriously consider DE&I contributions during the tenure review process. "If we’re seriously evaluating DE&I, we need to see how we’re moving it up on the priority list. It is also important that the criteria that we use to hire people matches the criteria for tenure promotion. We don’t want to hire them on a set of criteria and then have a different set of expectations for tenure evaluation." However, "it’s important not to fall into the trap that faculty of color only do diversity work, that their value to the institution is only the work they do with students of color, or that their work is exotic or outside the normal advancement of the institution."
Although funding and deans offices having a role in addressing these hiring concerns, Dr. Sellers stresses to the faculty that, "ultimately, decisions of hiring, promotion, and evaluation belong to the faculty." Speaking to the faculty present, Dr. Sellers said, "The thing that allows me some optimism is that I really believe that in most cases, all it will take is a few voices coming in, hopefully organized, to say, No, we don’t need to do it this way. You have to be that person. You have to be willing to stand up in a meeting on a consistent basis and be that person. When you stand up, there’s often a whole lot of other people behind you who were waiting for somebody to be that voice. A lot of the work just needs voices in those rooms. Your voice is the voice that’s needed."