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University releases third annual DIAP progress report

Report highlights increased recruitment, retention of faculty, graduate students from HUGs

University News Editor
Saturday, May 25, 2019

Earlier this month, the University published its third annual report on progress made toward goals established in its 2016 Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. The report, which assessed data from the 2017-18 school year, highlighted an increase in the recruitment and retainment of faculty and graduate students from historically underrepresented groups.

Released in February 2016, the DIAP aims to increase the presence of HUGs on campus, improve campus life and create more research and learning opportunities addressing diversity and inclusion issues. The plan defines HUGs as individuals who self-identify as “American Indian, Alaskan Native, African American, Hispanic or Latinx and Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander.”

The annual report also noted other achievements across campus that aid the University’s diversity and inclusion goals. For instance, 126 courses that focused on race, gender and inequality were designated as DIAP courses in fall 2018. The University also hosted its first annual DIAP Community Awards May 2018,  during which six community members were each awarded $4,000 for their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in their field of work. The report also noted the University’s efforts to improve working climate for staff, as this was “one of the most pressing issues” to address in terms of diversity and inclusion.

While the University made progress in accomplishing several of its diversity and inclusion goals, the report also pointed out areas for improvement. In the 2017-18 academic year, enrollment among first-generation undergraduate college students decreased by 1.1 percent. The University has attempted to attract more first-gen students in recent years, said Shontay Delalue, vice president for Institutional Equity and Diversity. HUGs’ representation in the undergraduate student body has also remained roughly stagnant, increasing by 0.1 percent.

Despite continued calls from the Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Board which annually evaluates the University’s progress toward the objectives in the DIAP for the University to implement a campus-wide accessibility survey, the annual report did not discuss any plans to conduct the survey.

To fund initiatives within the DIAP, the University established a goal of raising $165 million through the BrownTogether campaign with $100 million slated to support the goal of hiring faculty from HUGs, The Herald previously reported. To date, $65 million has been raised for this goal. Additionally, $45.5 million has been raised for other diversity initiatives, including supporting graduate student fellowships and expanding research centers such as the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America.

“As a community, we should feel good about the progress we’ve made and continue to work individually and collectively toward the goals that we set,”  Delalue said.

The DIOB is expected to review the annual report within the next several weeks and provide feedback and recommendations to the University to improve its progress.

Recruiting and retaining faculty, graduate and undergraduate students from HUGs

In the original DIAP, the University established a goal to double the number of faculty from HUGs by 2022 and diversify the graduate and undergraduate student populations.

Since the release of the DIAP, The number of faculty from HUGs has increased by 34.4 percent, according to the annual report. With three years left to double the number of faculty from HUGs, the University’s recruitment practices now include efforts such as enhanced training on unconscious bias for search committees.

Graduate school students from HUGs make up about 14 percent of all enrolled graduate students as of fall 2018, an 80 percent increase since fall 2014. Among new domestic doctoral students, 31.5 percent identify as members of HUGs, which is the highest percentage to date, according to the report. With these statistics, the DIAP goal of “diversifying” the graduate school has been met, Delalue said.

The Graduate School’s targeted recruitment efforts, which were followed in 2017 by on-campus initiatives like the New Graduate Student Diversity and Inclusion Programming, contributed to the school’s success, Delalue added.

During recruitment, groups “(see) the program happening,” Delalue said. “That’s a huge recruitment tool because it signals to the students, even if we don’t have huge, large numbers, we care about you, we care about your experience and this is what we’re doing to help. That’s a direct result of the DIAP efforts.”

Undergraduate HUG enrollment has not shown the continuous growth that appears in faculty and graduate student populations. While the 2018 first-year class showed a 2 percent increase in HUG representation from the year before, total HUG undergraduate representation is at 21.1 percent, a decrease of 0.2 percent from fall 2016. There was also a 1.1 percent decrease of first-generation college students among overall undergraduate student population from 2017 to 2018.

“We definitely have signaled both on-campus and nationally that this is a critical area for us” with the implementation of the U-Fli Center, Delalue said. “But we didn’t really see any gains. (We need to make) sure that we continue to attract and admit first-gen and low-income students.”

Staff climate and diversity

Following a 2016 climate survey that indicated staff concerns about  their work environment, the University has implemented various professional development opportunities to improve staff climate.

“We had enough data that told us that staff in some places didn’t feel appreciated, didn’t always feel respected,” Delalue said. “We don’t want to lose sight of that.”

Staff-centered initiatives include the Administrative Fellows Program, which gives staff members opportunities to pursue research and attend workshops and meetings with seniors leaders, The Herald previously reported. Beginning in 2017, the Faculty in Focus lecture series allowed faculty from across the University to share their research with staff members over lunch.

Staff from the Office of the Dean of the Faculty also met with managers of academic departments to collect “feedback on their careers and climate issues and concerns,” according to the annual report.

The University issued a second climate survey in spring 2019  to faculty and staff members. The data has not yet been analyzed, but it “will provide information about whether there have been improvements in staff climate over the past two years,” according to the report.

No progress on accessibility survey

Both the 2017 and 2018 DIOB memos encouraged the DIAP to focus on community members with disabilities, with the 2017 memo recommending a “campus-wide survey of the built environment of Brown, with a focus on accessibility for the wide range of disabled persons in our community.” The 2018 memo called for a “more granular operational plan, or at least an articulation of areas to be addressed.”

Neither disability services nor accessibility surveys were addressed in the 2019 annual report, though the 2018 annual report addressed disability inclusion, The Herald previously reported.

The 2018 annual report noted that the University “took actions to ensure that disability was included in all definitions of diversity and integrated into all conversations and activities centered on diversity and inclusion.”

While the 2019 and 2018 annual reports did not confirm the University’s plans to implement an accessibility survey, it was “on their radar,” said Vanessa Britto MSc ’96, the assistant vice president for campus life and executive director of health and wellness.

Britto added that progress on this front would solidify once the University hires a new director for the Student and Employee Accessibility Services. Catherine Axe, the previous SEAS director, stepped down this March, The Herald previously reported.

The University has not yet announced her replacement but intends to hire a new director this summer, said Britto, who is chairing the search to fill the position.

“To do (the accessibility survey) well it should be done in partnership with facilities and other partners on campus,” Britto said. “It would be a collaborative initiative to set the stage for the new director.”

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One Comment

  1. While the BDH reports about useless trivia, Brown has increased its administration by 3-fold in the past 30 years. Brown has over 288 departments (!). These increase costs, but don’t improve education.

    Since the BDH and Brown’s administration prefers to ignore key issues, here’s a news flash:

    For whom is Brown dedicated? Administrators? Or students and teachers?

    American higher education faces many difficulties, not least soaring costs and the decline of academic freedom. Administrative bloat, subsidized by the federal government, makes both these problems worse.

    A 2014 analysis by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting found that from 1987 to 2012, the higher-education sector added more than half a million administrators. Their numbers have doubled relative to academic faculty. Financed in large part with federally subsidized tuition, this rise of administrators siphons money from the core functions of academic institutions. Colleges and universities have shifted teaching duties from full-time professors to part-time nontenured adjuncts who earn paltry wages.

    Congress can combat this transformation of the university by reforming student-loan programs. The U.S. government offers student loans without regard to the ratio of administrators to full-time tenured faculty at the school receiving the funds. Congressional largess to students has thus changed the nature of the higher-education system. It has enabled colleges and universities to expand and entrench a class of employees whose interests often conflict with a serious education.

    Administrators serve many valuable functions. They can help students and save time for faculty. But their growth in numbers has coincided with some disturbing trends. Governance of academic institutions traditionally rested with the faculty, especially full-time tenured faculty. But the relative decline of faculty has shifted the balance of power toward administrators, who increasingly control academic policy.

    It’s no accident that as they have hired more administrators, these institutions have veered toward indoctrination and censorious intrusions into speech, opinion and personal life. These heavy-handed policies are often incompatible with traditional educational ideals, such as academic freedom, freedom of speech, open-mindedness and dispassionate judgment. To be sure, many faculty support such policies, but the most consistent pressure for them typically comes from the administrative bureaucracy. Congress should recognize that its funding helped create this threat to education.

    When authorizing student loans, Congress should take into account the ratio of administrators to full-time tenured faculty. The amount of a student loan, and the interest rate payable on it, should come on a gently sliding scale dependent on the ratio of administrators to full-time tenured faculty at the institution that will benefit from the loan. At one end of this sliding scale, students attending a school with few administrators could get the largest loans at the lowest possible interest rate, and at the other end students attending an institution where administrators are relatively numerous could get only the smallest possible loans at the highest possible rate.

    The details would be complex. Different programs have different administrative needs, and thus the scale for medical students might have to be different from that for undergraduates. And it may make sense to exclude from the scale those administrators who care for academic assets such as libraries and databases. Moreover, because schools may respond by replacing administrators with contract workers, the scale would have to include them, too.

    An advantage of a sliding scale is that Congress would not be regulating schools by dictating any particular ratio of administrators to full-time tenured faculty. The choice would remain with the institutions.

    Student loans could be tied to a host of other considerations, such as a student’s major or field of graduate study. For example, loans could be available on advantageous terms for students studying the hard sciences. But the first priority should be ending the use of federally supported tuition to subsidize the administrative bloat that threatens academic values.

    This proposal is very different from President Trump’s recent executive order tying government funding to the protection of freedom of speech on campuses. As the White House recognized, government protection for students’ freedom of speech cannot be taken so far as to abridge their institutions’ freedom of speech—for example, the freedom of religious colleges to require commitments to their distinctive points of view. This means any government effort to guarantee campus speech rights is likely to be only partially effective. It is therefore also necessary to address an underlying structural problem: the excess of government-subsidized academic administrators.

    One might still protest that Congress should not be in the business of reshaping education. But that is precisely what Congress has been doing for decades. Its loans have facilitated the growth of the education-administrative complex and thereby undermined academic governance and values. Congress should reform its lending to stop subsidizing the rise of administrators at the cost of education.

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