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Minority prof. hiring accelerates

The University has seen an increase in minority and women faculty since the creation of the Office of Institutional Diversity in 2003, according to statistics released by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty. Though the faculty expansion outlined in the Plan for Academic Enrichment has been completed, minority hiring will continue to improve despite the economic downturn.

"Over the last six years we have made remarkable progress in diversifying the faculty," said Dean of the Faculty Rajiv Vohra P'07. "The growth in minority as well as female faculty has been considerably higher than the overall growth of the faculty."

Since 2003, the number of Asian faculty has increased by 36 percent, black faculty by 52 percent and Hispanic faculty by 40 percent. During the same period, the number of white faculty increased by only 13 percent. The number of women on the faculty has increased by 31 percent. Vohra said these numbers demonstrate the net effect of hiring and faculty departures.

Although the percentage increases show minority faculty hiring has grown faster than general hiring, the total number of minority faculty still remains relatively small. For example, there were 21 black faculty in the 2002-2003 academic year, and 32 in 2008-2009.

"In terms of the big picture, because for many of these categories the numbers are still small, it's important to measure progress over a number of years rather than on an annual basis," Vohra said.

Brenda Allen, associate provost and director of institutional diversity, said she has noticed steady growth in general minority hiring, "really good success" with women and increases in diversity "all across the University."

Though she acknowledged change does not happen "fast and overnight," looking at the numbers from the past six years, "we can see that we've really made some progress," she said.

The University's strategy for actively diversifying the faculty is "two-fold," Vohra said. Primarily, departments searching for faculty work with Allen to determine the best strategy for increasing the number of minority applicants.

"The idea is, the more people you recruit to your pool, the more diverse and rich that pool will be," Allen said.

Strategies include outreach - both on the department's and on Allen's behalf - as well as attendance at conferences where high-quality applicants might be found.

In addition to departmental searches, the University's "Target of Opportunity" program has had a "significant impact on our ability to diversify the faculty," Vohra said. The program allows a department to pursue an unusual hiring opportunity, even if it doesn't have an immediate vacancy. The Plan for Academic Enrichment called for 100 new faculty hires and allocated 25 of them specifically to the Target of Opportunity program.

As of this year, nearly all of the 100 positions outlined in the Plan for Academic Enrichment have been filled, Vohra said. But despite the end of the major expansion and the current financial situation, the University still expects to hire about 30 faculty members each year, and opportunities remain to further diversify the faculty. Though the overall number of hires will be smaller, the percentage of spots that go to minority applicants will continue to increase.

"Diversity will continue to be a goal integral to any growth we have," Allen said. "As we manage the economic situation, our priority is protecting the quality of the academic program."


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