Charged with fostering diversity efforts at all levels of the University, Rusty Barceló is part of an administration in which diversity is in its infancy.
“When I talk about diversity, we’re talking about it in the broadest sense,” said Barceló, the newly appointed vice president and vice provost for equity and diversity.
Barceló defined diversity as including different genders, races, ethnicities, disabilities, and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
In the highest levels of University administration, 6.2 percent of executives are people of color and 41.2 percent are women, according to a systemwide report conducted in October by the University Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.
Upper administration includes the president, vice president, chancellors of the coordinate campuses, provosts, deans and other positions.
The office is obligated to report race and gender statistics, but reporting veteran and disability information is voluntary, said John Felipe, assistant director of the office.
The University lists a total of 360 administrators and executives. Of those, 26 are people of color and 172 are women, according to the October report.
The office supplies the report to University employees and hiring committees, Felipe said. His office asks faculty and staff members to consider it when making new hires.
The Systemwide Task Force on Diversity released its own report in February as part of the University’s strategic positioning plan. The report placed an emphasis on diversifying the school to remain competitive.
“In order for the University system to achieve its goal of becoming one of the top three public research universities in the world, the University must realign institutional priorities and accountability measures with diversity as the priority for the University system, and not just a priority,” the report stated.
Students learn best in a diverse educational environment, the report said, and if Minnesota does not improve education for all ethnic, social and racial groups, the skills and incomes of state workers will likely decline in the next 20 years.
While diversity among the University faculty and staff increased, numbers of administrative and executive professionals of color declined from 1996 to 2004, according to the task force report.
“The willingness of students of color to come to the University will be significantly affected by the number of faculty and staff of color,” the report stated.
Deborah Petersen-Perlman, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity at the Duluth campus, said although there is not statistical support for the report’s claim, diversity at universities is important.
“If you don’t see yourself represented in the front of the classroom, you’ve got to wonder, ‘What are my chances?’ ” she said.
The University recently hired Darlyne Bailey as dean of the newly formed College of Education and Human Development. The college combined the General College, the College of Human Ecology’s family social science department and the School of Social Work.
Bailey is the University’s first black female dean. She last served as dean of Columbia University’s Teachers College and vice president for academic affairs. In spring 2003, she served as acting president.
Barceló said the University made the right choice.
“As I look across the country, I don’t know many faculty of color that are associate deans,” she said. “The reality is that there aren’t many of us in the pipeline; we’re still not represented in graduate education, which is the first step to the professorial.”
Bailey said the University is not far behind other institutions in hiring people of color and women into administrative positions.
She prefers to use the term multiculturalism rather than diversity, she said, because she believes multiculturalism acknowledges differences, but focuses on similarities.
There’s value in multiculturalism, Bailey said.
“Quite crassly it makes good business sense, but quite honestly it also allows for a greater brain power from multiple perspectives,” she said.
With the former General College as a department under Bailey’s leadership, the new dean said she hopes to reflect its philosophies throughout the college and uphold its value.
“They lost a lot, but they’re going to gain a lot,” Bailey said. “The work they were doing is going to be exponentially increased in terms of its impact in coming into this new college. That’s my goal.”
Finding diversity among qualified dean candidates can be difficult, Barceló said.
“If you were to do a national scan, in terms of how many people are out there like a Darlyne Bailey, you’ll find those numbers very small,” Barceló said. “So the fact that we got one is really an incredible accomplishment Ö”
The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action keeps track of the number of people of color and females qualified for a certain job.
The numbers include local and national labor market statistics, the amount of degrees awarded and potential candidates within the University system, Felipe said.
For top-level administrators, such as deans, there is 13 percent availability for minorities and 52.6 percent availability for women, according to the office’s report.
“I don’t think that I was a ‘diversity hire’ and, in fact, I know that what I bring is much more than my color, but I know that my color and my gender and my lifestyle and everything that I am, all the experiences that I’ve had, were clearly what they wanted,” Bailey said.
“Color has to matter,” she said. “It’s who I am and how I’ve lived my life.”
Barceló said Bailey’s hire should lead to more like it.
“But right now Ö there’s not that many faculty of color nationally, quite frankly, and there’s not on our campus,” she said.
The newly formed College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences announced three finalists for their new dean, all of whom are white men.
Mary Nichols, dean of the College of Continuing Education, and College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Jeff Klausner led the hiring committee for the new College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences dean. Both were unavailable for comment.
Statistics show that 43 percent of the deans in the University system are women. Barceló said only a few are people of color.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Barceló said.
The University recently hired Alison Davis-Blake, the Carlson School of Management’s new dean, who is white.
The diversity task force report states the University will need to “recruit students, staff and faculty from an increasingly diverse
population in an increasingly tight job market.
“The University will not be able to compete for the best students from all backgrounds unless its staff and faculty are diverse and, indeed, its student body is also already quite diverse.”
But the availability of candidates also depends on the areas of study, Felipe said. Certain fields are more diverse than others, he said.
Before leaving the University, Barceló served as the associate vice president for multicultural affairs and academic affairs, and chairwoman of the Chicano studies department.
In her most recent position at the University of Washington-Seattle, she was vice president and vice provost for minority affairs and diversity.
Now back at the University, Barceló is part of President Bob Bruininks’ cabinet.
“Whether we’re talking about rescheduling a football game or budgetary issues, Rusty will be there to represent diversity,” Bruininks said at Barceló’s welcome reception.
The University followed the diversity task force’s recommendation to create Barceló’s new position.
Petersen-Perlman said she’s pleased Barceló returned.
“People like Rusty know what the issues are and how to address them,” she said.
Often, diversity is an afterthought, Barceló said.
But since the University began its strategic planning, she said, diversity has been a renewed priority.
This year Barceló hopes to collect input and data before
drafting her portion of the University’s strategic plan. She said she hopes to support diversity programs that are already in place and implement new ones.
Many universities across the country are adding administrative positions to deal with diversity.
University of California-Berkeley, University of Washington and University of California-Los Angeles are some of the leaders in
diversifying academia, she said.
Barceló said the University has the ability to be one of the top three universities in diversity.
“We’re not there yet, but I think we have the capacity,” she said.