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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Hanlon, Dever stress improving faculty diversity at meeting

In five years, the College aims to have minority and international professors comprise 25 percent of its faculty. At Monday’s termly meeting of the faculty of arts and sciences, Provost Carolyn Dever and College President Phil Hanlon discussed increasing minority and international faculty at Dartmouth, describing it as a major priority to the around 200 faculty members in attendance.

Hanlon said the College has committed $1 million to recruitment of underrepresented minority faculty. Dartmouth is “well short of where we need to be,” he told the gathering.

Currently, 17.5 percent of Dartmouth’s arts and sciences faculty are minorities or foreign citizens. The figure has changed little in the past decade, having stood at 17.5 percent in 2003.

According to the College Fact Book, 17 percent of arts and sciences faculty identified as members of one or more minority groups in 2013, though the document does not record international faculty numbers.

Among undergraduate students, 9 percent are international, 34 percent are minorities, 8 percent are of unknown race or ethnicity and 49 percent are white, according to the 2013 College Fact book.

Dever said she did not want herself or her colleagues to have to be in the position of “explaining to a student why there’s not a faculty member here who looks like him or her.”

The issue sprang to prominence with the departure of several high-profile minority faculty and administrators over the past year in what music professor Steve Swayne noted others have referred to as “the black exodus.”

The College will work to bring minority faculty to campus through current faculty who may have connections at other institutions or in graduate schools, and will work with potential recruits and new faculty hires to build an inclusive community at Dartmouth.

“We need you to identify the most talented underrepresented faculty out there and develop recruiting strategies,” Dever told the assembled faculty.

While Dever said data on last year’s faculty departures is not yet available, there is a “widespread concern” that the College is falling further behind in its efforts to recruit minority faculty.

Swayne said he does not believe African-American faculty are departing Dartmouth at a greater rate than faculty of other races, though physics professor Stephon Alexander disagreed.

“Because of the nature of the Dartmouth community, we, minority faculty, especially those of us that are not married, for example, or have spouses elsewhere, [face] a real challenge, and we really especially rely on our colleagues and our community of minority faculty for support and for a social life,” Alexander said.

Alexander, who called Dever’s presentation on diversity “music to my ears,” emphasized the role of current faculty in recruiting more individuals of underrepresented backgrounds to the College.

“I am very proud that this institution is taking leadership in this national issue,” he said.

The College is still developing strategies to recruit and retain minority faculty, Dever said. Denise Anthony, who began as vice provost for academic initiatives earlier this month, will work with Dever and the faculty to recruit minority professors.

Dartmouth is also working to diversify its staff, Dever said, noting that 10 percent of the College’s non-academic staff are minorities or international. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hanover is 77.5 percent white and New Hampshire is about 94 percent white. Nationally, 77.7 percent of the population is white.

Since the College cannot advertise a position directly to specific racial or ethnic groups, administrators and faculty will instead “pound the pavement” to ensure applicant diversity, Dever said after the meeting.

Though discussion of faculty diversity accounted for the bulk of the hour-long meeting, Hanlon also discussed the College’s budgeting process for the coming years. He said budgeting will focus on transparency, which he began emphasizing when he arrived at the College in 2013.

In the spring, Hanlon, executive vice president Rick Mills and chief financial officer and vice president for finance Michael Wagner taught a mini-course on the College’s budget. The course, which was over enrolled, will likely be offered again in spring 2015.

Hanlon said that the College expects to report lower endowment growth in future years. The 19.2 percent growth reported in fiscal year 2014 is unlikely to be matched consistently, Hanlon said. When drafting its budget each year, the College currently assumes that it will receive at least an 8 percent return on its endowment, but Hanlon said the endowment will likely earn a 6 to 7 percent return. He did not specify reasons for the potential decrease.

The endowment funds more than 20 percent of the College’s operating budget, meaning the slight dip expected in endowment return could require financial restructuring.

Hanlon also discussed funding issues at Geisel Medical School. While he did not elaborate on the institution’s financial difficulties, he noted that Geisel’s “expenditures significantly exceed revenues.”

Geisel posted a $5.5 million deficit for the 2014 fiscal year and must make $10 million in budget cuts.

Hanlon reaffirmed his confidence in interim Geisel Dean Duane Compton, who replaced Wiley “Chip” Souba in June.

“It’s crucial that we have a successful medical school on campus, so we’re going to get that done,” Hanlon said.

He noted that Dartmouth fundraising had a banner year in 2014, raising around $255 million in cash gifts, including an anonymous $100 million donation, the largest single gift in Dartmouth’s history.

Hanlon said the coming year will be devoted to executing the priorities he announced at his first general faculty meeting last fall, including expanding Thayer Engineering School, growing experiential learning and developing Dartmouth’s online learning presence in partnership with edX and Khan Academy.

The newly created Society of Fellows, a research program for postdoctoral students, received 1,744 applications for five to six spots, Hanlon said.