University News

Admin racial diversity ranks among lowest in Ivies

As three ongoing senior administrative searches proceed, the University looks to increase diversity

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, February 28, 2013

The University administration is the second least racially diverse in the Ivy League.

The University’s senior administration ranked the second least racially diverse in the Ivy League in an analysis conducted by the Daily Pennsylvanian earlier this month.

At 5.6 percent, or one out of 18 total senior administrators, the University’s proportion of minority senior administrators is only higher than Yale’s 3.8 percent.

The data compiled by the Daily Pennsylvanian looked at the percentage of top administrators who are black, Asian or Hispanic across the Ivy League.

Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 said he is not content with the level of diversity among Brown’s senior administrators, adding that expanding such diversity is one of his goals. “Having diverse perspectives involved in leading the University is a strong advantage,” he said. “There is absolutely no question about that.”

 

Searching for diversity

Search committees have been formed to find replacements to fill three of the 18 senior positions: vice president for Computing and Information Services, vice president for research and dean of medicine and biological sciences. Schlissel, who is leading the latter two searches, said diversity will be one of many factors considered by the committees.

“We have certainly made efforts to make sure we have as diverse an applicant pool as possible,” he added. The difficulty, Schlissel said, is finding the right candidate who wants the job.

“In each (search) there are different challenges, and each has a different population of people who are in those fields already,” said Beppie Huidekoper, executive vice president for finance and administration. She is heading the search for a vice president for CIS.

These different challenges are being met with varied solutions. A search firm has been hired to help find a new dean of medicine and biological sciences, while mostly on-campus candidates are being considered for the vice president of research position, Schlissel said. He described a general lack of diversity in medical schools, particularly in the underrepresentation of female deans at such institutions. The search firm has been hired to help find a diverse pool of applicants, he said.

Huidekoper said recruiting minority candidates has been a challenge, adding, “and that’s not for lack of trying.”

Associate Provost for Academic Development and Diversity Liza Cariaga-Lo defined the difficulty of finding diverse candidates as the “pipeline issue.” At each higher level in academia, Cariaga-Lo said, there are fewer people from diverse backgrounds. The small pool of available candidates is made even smaller given that qualified individuals may already be happily employed at other institutions and might not want to move, she added.

 

Looking forward

With a relatively new provost and a new president, Cariaga-Lo said, there is an opportunity to find and recruit diverse candidates more diligently.

“Part of what makes Brown really amazing and unique is … not just that we have a really diverse academic community, but in fact we have students and faculty and staff and administrators who really have worked very hard to create a community of inclusion,” Cariaga-Lo said. That inclusive community is not widely known about outside of Brown, she added.

The lack of racial diversity at the highest levels of the University’s leadership does not extend throughout the entire administration — about one-third of the 19 administrators in the Office of the Dean of the College identify as non-white, for example.

As part of its strategic planning process, the University is emphasizing the need for a more diverse faculty, The Herald reported last fall.

Undergraduate Council of Students President Anthony White ’13  said the focus on increasing faculty diversity is due to the fact that professors typically interact with students more than administrators do. Diversity in the senior administration has been less of a concern and is harder to change because there is less frequent turnover, White said. “I think it’s a problem and something that Brown definitely let go to the wayside,” he said.

“One of the difficult things about when we use the term ‘diversity’ is that we always tend to look at the physical identifier,” White said. He added that he finds several kinds of diversity important for UCS executive committee discussions: “people not only from different racial groups, (but) individuals from all different economic backgrounds, different geographic (histories) … different international backgrounds and different commitments outside of UCS.”

 

Other dimensions

The Daily Pennsylvanian article, which came after several opinions columns sparked debate about administrative diversity on the Penn campus, considered only race in its analysis. One area in which the provost said he is happy with the senior administration’s diversity is its variety of academic backgrounds.

“We certainly have diversity of socioeconomic backgrounds, parts of the country, parts of the world,” Huidekoper added. Half of the senior administrators are women.

The equal representation of women has been a relatively new shift in universities’ governance over the past couple of decades, Huidekoper said. Former President Ruth Simmons not only represented women during her time at Brown, but was also the Ivy League’s first and only black president, she added.

Cornell’s senior administration is the most racially diverse in the Ivy League, with racial minorities accounting for 20.6 percent of the administration, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian article. “In a global economy and a global education system, it sends the right message that we are open,” said Cornell’s Vice President for Planning and Budget Elmira Mangum.

Mangum said the environment of openness at Cornell draws diverse candidates to the university. Through a “diversity initiative,” Cornell officials have made diversity at all levels of the university a top priority, she added.

Brown’s senior administration strives to increase its diversity “so we have different opinions around the table as we are trying to make decisions about the University’s future,” Schlissel said. “We are going to have to keep staying on top of this.”

  • anonymous

    Blind calls for hiring racial minorities is a hallmark of ignorance. We have a great administration because we hire excellent people. Enough said. Let’s not fall victim to popular notions just to have some color on the website.

  • tfreeman98

    It is so revealing, but not at all shocking, that all Brown seems to care about is racial bean-counting to achieve diversity. UCS President Anthony White expands the inquiry only in a trivial way, to include “people not only from different racial groups, (but) individuals from
    all different economic backgrounds, different geographic (histories) …
    different international backgrounds and different commitments outside of
    UCS.”

    I would respectfully suggest that none of this matters much. What matters a great deal more is intellectual diversity. Spend a few minutes at the Open Secrets web site. If you search for political donations in the 2008 and 2012 campaign cycles, from people who list their employer as Brown University, you will find 310 donations to Barack Obama’s campaigns, 1 to Mitt Romney’s campaign, and 6 to John McCain’s campaign. (Not to mention donations to other far-left candidates from Elizabeth Warren to Russ Feingold, and to far-left organizations like MoveOn.) Intellectually, Brown is a bubble world. And yet Brown apparently could not care less.

    • aggus

      The non-academic administrators at Brown University are not intellectual. In fact, they are quite stupid.

      • anonymous

        Well, then I guess diversity wouldn’t matter to you in this case. While I won’t disagree, I think the blanket statement is a bit heavy-handed.

        • aggus

          Here’s a way not to make it a blanket statement. A=stupid. B=stupid. C=stupid. D=stupid. E=stupid. F=stupid. G=stupid. H=stupid. And so on. Feel free to place a name of any non-academic administrator at Brown instead of any of those letters.

          • anonymous

            You must be an academic – you know the alphabet!

    • Scholars

      Could not said it better.
      That is because the student body in general is totally clueless and just rolls with what sounds good

  • HB2

    Focusing on racial diversity in the leadership of an institution of Brown’s stature and influence is no more “blind” than focusing on academic diversity. Both are fully achievable and necessary for the sustenance of the institution’s health and pre-eminence.HB

    • anonymous

      Really? Why? Because Brian Williams says so? Or because we are all a rich tapestry and the US was founded on principles of inclusion. Poppycock.

  • aggus

    The arithmetic implication is that there are at least 18 senior administrators, and one counts as a minority. It is likelier, though, that there are multiples of the 18. So 36, going for 54 senior administrators?

    Even 18 means that we have too many senior administrators. If people performed their leadership roles thoughtfully, we should not need that many of them. Brown University is bloated. That her peers are bloated in the same way, and populated by thoughtless people in the same way, is no excuse for President Paxson not to set this right.

    I am all for more diversity, especially if getting there will give us the chance to get rid of all the half-assed bureaucrats (translation: senior administrators) who only pretend to be running the place.

    None of the Brown trustees would tolerate their investee companies being run this way. But they shirk their responsibilities to Brown. Keep this up and we will be as pathetic as Harvard. Just watch.

    • Mr. Softee

      Right, because Harvard is soooo pathetic.

  • Scholars

    Brown would be better served if they worried more about safety of their students.
    It is a disgrace. Only by the grace of god that more people do not get hurt.

  • Syen

    As long as no one on campus is advocating the return of slavery, I do not believe diversity of race will raise diversity of thought. I’m sick of non-minorities acting like they know what I want!