College releases report on faculty diversity

by Sonia Qin | 1/10/16 8:53pm

The Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives released its first annual report on faculty diversity on Thursday, Jan 7. The report summarizes the work of the newly established office in recruiting, retaining and supporting underrepresented minority faculsty, with the goal of increasing URM faculty to 25 percent of tenure track faculty by 2020, up from the current 16 percent of Dartmouth faculty who are URM.

Based on current data, increasing URM faculty to 25 percent would require hiring about 60 new faculty members with roughly 30 each across the College’s graduate schools and within the arts and sciences, Denise Anthony, vice provost for Academic Initiatives, said. Anthony’s position and the Academic Initiatives office were created in the fall of 2014.

Over the past year, the vice provost focused on strengthening recruitment and retention, fostering an inclusive community and helping build succesful careers for URM faculty, according to the report.

The College has set aside $22.5 million in endowment funds to support URM recruitment and retention efforts which will provide around $1 million in annual spending for the initiatives, Anthony said

The report also announced the pilot of a two-year post-doctoral César Chavez fellowship, a dissertation fellowship for URM scholars whose research domain is in Latino and Latin American studies. A similar program, the César Chavez Pre-Doctoral Fellowship for URM students, began in 1994.

The report also states an intention to continue the “Leading Voices in Higher Education” lecture series during the winter and spring terms of 2016. These series of events focus on building and sustaining inclusive environments for teaching and learning,

Also mentioned in the report is the Dartmouth Community Study, which was launched in spring 2015 with the intent of examining the campus climate across all groups in the College and its graduate schools. The final report on this study and recommendations from its working group, led by Anthony, will be communicated to the campus community in spring 2016.

The College has also received a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support faculty diversity, according to the report.

Michelle Warren, professor of comparative literature and coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship at the College, will be assisting with two aspects of the grant, she said.

As part of the grant, Warren said she will assist with faculty searches in departments that volunteer to have data-enriched conversations about the role of diversity in their search. Her other role in the project is studying the outcomes of Dartmouth’s three dissertation fellowships: Charles A. Eastman, César Chavez and Thurgood Marshall. The goal of these fellowships is to promote diversity in higher education. Warren said that her office is studying the career trajectories over time of fellows from these programs.

The Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning will also be involved in efforts to promote faculty diversity, the report stated,

Lisa Baldez, director of DCAL andgovernment and Latin American, Latino and Caribbean studies professor, said that she is pleased to see the administration commit to faculty diversity.

“The report is really important because it provides data that can be the basis of an institution-wide conversation,” Baldez said.

DCAL will be running a workshop this term to help faculty learn about disrupting implicit bias in the classroom, she said. Called “10 Things You Can Do to Disrupt Bias in the Classroom,” this workshop will be held in the DCAL teaching classroom and will be open to all faculty, including those from the Thayer School of Engineering, the Tuck School of Business, the Geisel School of Medicine and The Dartmouth Institute.

Baldez said that she thinks that there is a strong desire from faculty for workshops that talk about specific strategies that can change classroom dynamics and facilitate learning. For example, one way of reducing implicit bias in the classroom, she said, is to replace asking for a show of hands in response to a question with going around in a round-robin and asking everyone to speak.

Vice-president of the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity Evelynn Ellis said she has worked closely with Anthony in the past and that IDE provided the data on faculty diversity referenced in the report.

Ellis emphasized the importance of addressing faculty diversity issues as promptly as possible.

“If we don’t make a turn-around now, it becomes statistically harder in the future to do so,” she said.

Government professor Yusaku Horiuchi reacted positively to the report. Horiuchi is one of the co-chairs of the Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus. The group consists of self-identified Asian and Pacific American Islander faculty members who aim to promote a sense of community within these groups. He is also one of the 155 College faculty members who signed a letter of support in November for student activists calling for more inclusivity and diversity at the College.

“Diversity is important not because everyone says that diversity is important and not because the percentage is low,” Horiuchi said. “New ideas and new initiatives often emerge when people with different backgrounds and interests interact.”

Horiuchi said his experiences teaching in Singapore and Australia contributed to his belief that if the same people are interacting all the time, they can “miss the heterogeneity of the world.” As a minority himself, Horiuchi said that being Japanese allows him to offer a new perspective when teaching students about Japanese politics.

“I strongly think that diversity is good for education and research,” Horiuchi said.

Ellis said that interacting with people from different cultures and experiences has been important in expanding her worldview, adding to her belief in the importance of faculty diversity.

“Some of the richest experiences that I’ve had on an intellectual development level, professional development and a personal development level, I’ve pulled them from people who were in no way like me,” Ellis said. “It shouldn’t be your goal as a student to go out into the world thinking all of the knowledge worth having is held by white people.”

Ellis noted the necessity for faculty to be on board with the initiative to increase diversity, especially since faculty members are hired by the votes of fellow faculty in their respective departments.

Baldez acknowledged the ambitiousness of the numerical goals in the report, but emphasized the importance of having high goals.

Efforts to increase diversity and inclusivity are important to pursue despite challenges, Anthony said,

“Recruiting people to come to northern New England whether they are students, faculty or staff has challenges, but the thing to remember is that every university has recruiting challenges,” Anthony said. “We can’t use those as an excuse to say that we shouldn’t try.”

Dartmouth is not the first Ivy League institution to begin formally investigating its faculty diversity. In November, Yale University launched a $50 million five-year faculty diversity initiative.

In a long letter to colleagues, published online, Yale’s president Peter Salovey and provost Ben Polak wrote that this initiative will help recruit and appoint more diverse faculty, improve faculty development offerings and expand and develop the pool of undergraduates who will contribute as future generations of faculty.

Ellis said she believes strongly in the achievability of the goals set forth in the report.

“We can do anything we set our minds to,” she said. “I think it will be hard work, but what’s wrong with hard work?”