University seeks continued faculty, staff diversity

by Sam Kean

Despite improvements in the last decade, the University still seeks to increase women and minority representation among faculty and staff.

Between 1990 and 2000 faculty decreased by 327 members. However, the number of women faculty members and faculty members of color increased steadily. In 2000, women made up 26 percent of all faculty members and minorities constituted 12 percent.

In one spot, though, the University actually had a decrease in diversity. Among the highest administrative positions, the overall percentage of faculty of color dropped from 8 percent to less than 6 percent.

Increases among various demographics reflects the University’s efforts to include underrepresented groups in the pool of faculty candidates, said Carol Carrier, vice president for human resources.

During a Board of Regents meeting Thursday, board members discussed whether the University hired minority faculty at rates consistent with those in the national job pool. The committee making the presentation did note the University had done a better job hiring such faculty than similar Midwest institutions, such as the universities of Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan.

Much of the discussion focused on how to improve the workplace atmosphere for women, minorities, people with disabilities, people of all sexual orientations and people of all religions.

“We need to go beyond hiring to the environment in which we work,” said Julie Sweitzer, equal opportunity office director. Others present agreed a supportive workplace was perhaps the most important factor in retaining and recruiting faculty.

Another proposed idea involved helping spouses of potential faculty members find jobs, either at the University or in surrounding communities.

Such efforts seem especially important for the satellite campuses, which have less diversity than the Twin Cities site. The Crookston campus, for instance, has only three faculty members of color on its staff.

University President Mark Yudof also
suggested the University might reconsider a standard policy in higher education – that doctoral students move to different institutions for their first professorship. Yudof argued diversity could improve if the University hired its own minority graduate students.

As of now, the University has not set goals for how many minority faculty and staff members it wants to have. Board members said they will address this in future meetings.

Yudof said he felt the number of minority faculty members at the University should be more than that of Minnesota’s general population because the University recruits nationally. Carrier said she hopes this will be true for University staff as well, but since most staff are hired locally, she acknowledged it would be difficult.


Sam Kean encourages comments at [email protected]