- Although predominantly white four-year public and nonprofit colleges have promised to increase faculty diversity, few have made any progress, according to The Hechinger Report. The share of faculty hires each year who identify as black dipped slightly during a 10-year period through 2016, with a small proportion of those hires non-faculty, the publication notes.
- Black students account for 12% of college students while less than 6% of faculty members identify as black. And Hispanic students account for 16% of college students while less than 5% of faculty members identify as Hispanic.
- Public colleges can have a harder time recruiting black tenure-track faculty than private institutions, which often can pay more, though many colleges overlook diverse candidates during the hiring process. Experts cited several reasons why working at a predominately white institution can be a deterrent for diverse faculty, including the risk of tokenism and microagressions.
The need for diversity in hiring goes beyond race to include factors such as gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, ability, religion, nationality and socioeconomic background.
Hiring a more diverse faculty helps higher education institutions better respond to challenges that require multiple perspectives, according to a report by the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences.
One Ivy League professor wrote in a 2016 op-ed in the The Washington Post that many institutions have not put in the effort or the energy to recruit and hire diverse faculty simply because they don't care to. She said a strong focus on educational pedigree and personal connections is one reason causing many diverse professors, who don't have as much access to those opportunities, to be counted out.
Colleges need to evaluate and recreate their faculty recruitment and hiring processes by looking for implicit, or unconscious, biases in their systems. Another strategy is to hire diverse graduate students who are in the process of completing their doctoral degrees to teach. Once the degrees are completed, the hiring committee can review their progress on campus and decide whether they should be hired for a tenure-track position.
There are several ways to continue to support diverse faculty members once they arrive on campus, though most of these initiatives require access to funding. They can include increased funding for diverse faculty appointments, research projects, curriculum development for new courses, as well as featuring diverse donors who participate in fundraising programs, even if they do not contribute as much as other groups.