Hiring Minority Faculty

October 31, 2006

Americans see many benefits to diversity in higher education, finds first-ever national poll on topic: Public says diversity education can bring together a society that is growing apart thus reads the headline for a news release of the Campus Diversity Initiative dated 6 October, 1998. This first-ever national poll on diversity in higher education was undertaken by Daniel Yankelovichs DYG, Inc. on behalf of the Ford Foundation.

It is interesting to know the demographics of the poll. 2011 registered voters were polled by telephone between 14 July and 4 August 1998 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percent. The persons polled were located in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington. 51% of the respondents identified themselves as very conservative or more conservative than liberal in their political views, according to the study. I share this before reading some of the polls findings, lest there be any misunderstanding about some liberal bias.

The summary findings of the poll include the following:

  • 97% agree that in the next generations, people will need to get along with people who are not like them.
  • 94% agree that the nations growing diversity makes it more important than ever for all of us to understand people who are different than ourselves. 91% agree that the global economy makes it more important than ever for all of us to understand people who are different than ourselves.
  • Two-thirds of the respondents feel it is very important that colleges and universities prepare people to function in a diverse society. 94% say it is important for colleges and universities to prepare people to function in a more diverse work force.
  • 53% say that every college student should have to study different cultures in order to graduate.
  • [More than three-fourths] say that diversity programs in colleges and universities raise rather than lower academic standards.
  • [58%] say our nation is growing apart, and 91% agree that our society is multi-cultural and the more we know about each other, the better we will get along.
  • 71% say that diversity education on college and university campuses helps bring society together while 19% say that diversity education drives society apart. In fact, 69% believe that courses and campus activities that emphasize diversity and diverse perspectives have more of a positive than negative (22%) effect on the education of students.
  • Not surprisingly, 66% of the respondents say that colleges and universities should take explicit steps to insure diversity in the student body with only 38% agreeing with the statement that diversity is used as an excuse to admit graduate students who wouldnt otherwise make it (52% of the respondents disagreed with that statement). Finally, 75% say that colleges and universities should take explicit steps to insure diversity among faculty.

As Daryl G. Smith and José F. Moreno point out:

the desire to reflect student diversity cannot be the only rationale for diversifying the faculty. Diversity is a matter of equity in hiring and retention, as well as a central component of higher educations ability to develop more relevant and varied forms of knowledge. It is vital to building relationships with different communities outside the campus and essential for creating a work environment that is attractive to people from different backgrounds.

Moreover, colleges and universities need faculty members from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in order to make fully informed decisions at all levels. Greater diversity is essential if departments and institutions are to have the expertise and perspectives that they need. Finally, and perhaps most overlooked, a relatively homogenous faculty limits the future development of diversity in leadership, as most academic administrators come from faculty ranks.¹

We as faculty members are normally involved in the process of hiring new colleagues in our departments. Recruiting faculty from under-represented groups is a daunting challenge for many of us. I would like to share some strategies for enhancing the representation of minorities in our candidate pools and for fair treatment of all candidates. In addition I will share with you the findings of a study regarding various myths about achieving faculty diversity.

Jonathan R. Alger, Senior Counsel for the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) notes his disappointment upon hearing deans and affirmative action officers express the belief that their own faculties often create the highest hurdles to minority faculty recruitment and retention. In response to his rhetorical question, What can be done to ensure that the rules are fair and fairly applied?, he states that faculty members should first examine how they currently evaluate candidates for appointment and promotion.2

Alger suggests that search committees be given training to broaden their perspectives and resources to ensure that they are reaching out to the complete pool of potentially qualified applicants. He advises that faculty job openings be advertised in journals and periodicals that make special efforts to reach minority graduate students and faculty. While acknowledging that there may be some value in the evaluation process of comparing or ranking graduate school preparation of faculty candidates, Alger asks, what is the basis of those rankings [of graduate schools], and how do historically black universities and other minority-serving institutions fare in them?

Grant M. Ingle suggests that among the reasons colleges and universities are unsuccessful at diversifying their campuses are neglecting helpful expertise, ignoring the campus climate, and not establishing a clear rationale. Too often we in higher education do not seek the advice of experts who are knowledgeable about diversity issues, including in hiring. This might involve inviting to serve on the faculty search committee either a minority faculty member from another institution or an external consultant with expertise in diversity issues in higher education. With regard to campus climate, Ingle points out, If a colleges psychology or music department has no more faculty members of color now than it did in the 1970s, it is time to examine the atmosphere within each of those departments and how it may make them unattractive to certain groups. And finally, Ingle suggests that institutional and departmental mission statements may need updating. He gives the example of one universitys mission statement that promoted tolerance for diversity, which would be a red flag to minority job seekers.3

Lets begin with the job advertisement phase. Most job openings in higher education are advertised in The Chronicle of Higher Education, and the majority of announcements of faculty openings in the broad field of music also are listed in the online listing of The College Music Society. So far, so good. These venues are accessible to all, and ensure that openings receive a wide coverage and dissemination to interested candidates regardless of personal characteristics. The Chronicle even states that All advertisers must adhere in their recruitment announcements to U.S. laws against discrimination in employment. The Music Vacancy List of The College Music Society goes much further in stating the following:

Although The College Music Society welcomes advertising from all institutions of higher learning in the United States, CMS will not include an advertisement in the Music Vacancy List that contains, in the discretion of CMS, a statement of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, even if such statement reflects an institutions stated employment hiring practices. Statements of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, and gender are prohibited by federal and many state and local laws. Although statements concerning religion may not violate federal laws, they may violate state and local laws in certain localities in which the Music Vacancy List is distributed. Therefore The College Music Society will not include such statements in advertisements contained in the Music Vacancy List. CMS provides a lengthy discussion of issues related to human rights and freedom of speech in job listings, particularly with regard to religious institutions that may require a statement of Christian faith, for example, and whichin my opinionmay also be a veiled attempt to exclude not only non-Christians but also Christian applicants who are GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered).

Nowadays, most published job descriptions include statements on non-discrimination in hiring. The announcements below are quoted from the 8 September 2006 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education and are listed here in an order that demonstrates increased intentionality:

Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its workplace.

The University of Maryland, College Park, known for its website Diversity Web, states that it is strongly committed to the principle of diversity. We are especially interested in receiving applications from a broad spectrum of people, including women, members of ethnic minorities, and disabled individuals. EEO/AA.

San Jacinto College is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Institution and does not discriminate on the basis of sex, disability, race, creed or religion, color, age, national origin or Vietnam Veteran status.

Eastern Connecticut State University is an AA/EEO employer. Women, members of protected classes and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Delta College is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. Delta College does not discriminate in employment, education, public accommodation or public service on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, age sex, marital status, sexual orientation, height, weight, arrest record, veteran status, disability, or other classifications as required by applicable U.S. federal, state or local law.

In contrast to this cornucopia of personal qualities that are welcomed among candidates, curiously, North Carolina State Universitys multiple job-listing ad in The Chronicle states, AA/EOE. NC State welcomes all persons without regard to sexual orientation.

Evergreen State College implies the same and goes even further in stating, Salary for all positions based on experience and degree, with excellent benefits package, including same-sex domestic partner benefits, and relocation assistance. AA/EOE/ADA.

Some announcements refer job-hunters to the college or university website for fuller descriptions of the position where a detailed statement of non-discrimination is usually found.

My own institutions media boilerplate for announcements of faculty openings concludes with the statement, Agnes Scott has a strong commitment to diversity and urges members of underrepresented groups to apply. EOE. The colleges website goes further by stating, Agnes Scott College does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation or disability in its employment. Agnes Scott College has a strong commitment to diversity and urges members of underrepresented groups to apply. An Equal Opportunity Employer.

As a matter of principle then, and if almost every college and university has similar, if not identical, statements welcoming women and members of various under-represented groups to apply, how can we make our own job advertisements stand out from the crowd as being even more welcoming than the other schools? Short of a detailed listing such as found in Delta Colleges ad, some schools link their standards of nondiscrimination to the curriculum. For example, Macalester College states (with the emphases being my own):

Macalester College is a selective, private liberal arts college in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area, whose vital and diverse urban communities offer multiple opportunities for faculty and student engagement. The College enrolls over 1800 students from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and almost 80 countries. As an Equal Opportunity employer supportive of affirmative efforts to achieve a diverse workforce, the College strongly encourages applications from women and members of under-represented minority groups. We are especially interested in applicants dedicated to excellence in both teaching and research in a liberal arts setting, committed to working with students of diverse backgrounds. All faculty at Macalester are expected to help sustain the Colleges distinctive mission of educational excellence with a special emphasis on internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society.

Others draw attention to their established record of diversity, such as Dartmouth College, in an advertisement for a tenure-track position in music composition, With an even distribution of male and female students and over a quarter of the undergraduate student population members of minority groups, the College is committed to diversity and encourages applications from women and minorities. It helps that Dartmouth is well-known from its earliest days as a college that welcomed Native Americansin fact was founded for their educationand this is clearly noted in the colleges history on its website. Dartmouth has a Diversity page on the website with very extensive resources for current and alumnae members of its community. And at the beginning it states unequivocally,

Dartmouth has a strong historical record of attracting outstanding students from all segments of American society and abroad. Diversity is important to us for two fundamental reasons.

One is that any institution that prides itself, as we do, on educating the women and men who will assume leadership positions in our society, needs to make absolutely certain that our students represent the diversity of our society and of the world community. We assume this responsibility with enthusiasm.

The second reason has to do with our commitment to the intellectual vibrancy and inquisitiveness that has historically marked all great universities. Dartmouth is stronger today because of diversity. Students and faculty from different backgrounds and experiences help us all to confront and, finally, to understand the complicated richness of the world in which we live. A campus that values difference is one that encourages its members to explore the complexities that are central to intellectual life.

Another school known for its historic openness to difference is Oberlin College. Its website page on the colleges history notes, Oberlin College is highly selective and dedicated to recruiting students from diverse backgrounds. Oberlin was the first truly coeducational college in the United States, as well as an early leader in educating black students. Its more detailed statement gives dates and statistics to back this up. In other words, many colleges either have diversity pages on their websites and printed materials, or draw attention to their history and success in attracting women and minorities.

Clearly websites provide the opportunity to give much more information than a job announcement can in a purchased ad where space is at a premium. And college or university official boilerplate statements must be used. So how can we as music faculty enhance the attractiveness of our job openings in our advertisements?

This is what we have done as a music faculty at Agnes Scott College in metro Atlanta, both for nationally advertised fulltime openings as well as locally advertised part-time positions in applied music and ensemble direction. Incidentally, we received approval from the Office of Human Resources as well as the Academic Dean for this wording, which is aligned with both the colleges Mission Statement (and Values Statement) as well as the Mission Statement of the music department itself. In each description of responsibilities, we state, A demonstrable knowledge of and interest in music from under-represented groups (women and minorities) and from outside the Western canon is desired.4

Now, it helps that Agnes Scott is ranked as having one of the most diverse student bodies of all liberal arts colleges. But I believe the additional wording contributed to the very interesting pool of applicants for our recently filled positions in Conducting (Orchestral and Choral), Music Theory and Composition, and Violin/Viola. Significant percentages of women, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians were among the applicants, particularly for the Music Theory and Composition position.

Having examined wording of job announcements, lets turn our attention to where else these notices can be sent besides the two standardsthe CMS Music Vacancy List and The Chronicle of Higher Education. A number of colleges subscribe to a listing of minority candidates, especially African-Americans. This National Minority Identification Program source provides resumes, job aspirations, and contact information for potential minority candidates with the doctorate or completing it. Copies of the job opening can be sent directly to these candidates, with an invitation to apply.

Most of us hope to find the perfect candidate for our openings, and send the job announcement to the best graduate schools that offer doctorates or other terminal degrees in the field of specialization. It is also useful to send the announcement to historically black colleges, for example, asking the placement director, alumnae director, or music department chair to share the announcement with possible candidates known to them. Fortunately, there are a number of historically black colleges as sister institutions in Atlanta, and Agnes Scott has a history of collaborations on both an institutional and a professional level by individual faculty members. We wouldnt think of advertising a position without sending the job description to Spelman College, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, and even the Interdenominational Theological Seminary. At Agnes Scott we share the announcements with our part-time music faculty, some of them minorities and many of them women, so they can pass these descriptions of openings on to their professional colleagues. Some of our best hires have come by way of a personal recommendation from our adjunct facultyespecially since they can give personal testimony as to the atmosphere for minority faculty in our department and at the college.

One question that arises frequently during the evaluation and ranking process of candidates has to do with the quality of the institutions where candidates have earned their doctorates. It is easy to fantasize about the prestige that might accrue to our home institution if we hired exclusively mostly music history, theory, and composition faculty with Ph.D. degrees from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Chicago, or applied music faculty with DMA degrees from Eastman, Juilliard, Indiana, Northwestern and North Texas. On the other hand, degrees from such institutions are no guarantees of teaching effectiveness, dedication to research and publication, or highvisibility as performers, composers and ensemble directors. Undergraduate degrees from an excellent liberal arts college like Spelman, Morehouse, Fisk, or Tuskegee, or a graduate degree from Howard University should also be reason for a closer look at a potential candidate.

The 29 September 2006 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education lists the institutions that awarded the most doctorates to U. S. minority-group members, 2000-2004. The top institutions for awarding doctorates to Native Americans, Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics are Nova Southeastern (in the top six for the categories of Black, Native American, and Hispanic doctorates), Howard, Michigan, Sarasota, Maryland, Ohio State, Wayne State, UNC-Chapel Hill, Loyola of Chicago, Puerto Rico/Rio Piedras, UC-Berkeley, UT-Austin, UCLA, Texas A&M, Stanford, Harvard, Arizona, Walden, MIT, Southern California, UC-Davis, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Arizona State, and Fielding Graduate University.5

We all have developed prejudices and biases based on our experiences with professional colleagues; these need to be overcome so that a bad experience with a former colleague from State University X does not cloud our evaluation of other graduates of the same institution who might make an ideal fit with our own institutions current needs. Just because the U. S. News & World Report rankings happen to place Princeton in the number one position, doesnt necessarily imply that a recent doctorate from a public university in a neighboring state isnt also a worthy candidate. Be honest when ranking or assessing an institution and its doctoral programs.

The purpose of this article does not extend to the makeup of search committees, but there is particularly good advice to be found in Caroline Sotello Viernes Turners article, Before Starting a Faculty Search, Take a Good Look at the Search Committee.6 Among her recommendations is broadening the search committee to include persons of color, perhaps drawn from other departments, the administration, the student body, neighboring colleges, or community leaders.

Finally, I would like to address briefly false assumptions concerning achieving diversity through hiring minorities. In 1996, Daryl G. Smith, Lisa E. Wolf, and Bonnie E. Busenberg published a superb study for the Association of American Colleges and Universities: Achieving Faculty Diversity: Debunking the Myths. These scholars invited some 393 persons who had completed their Ph.D.s since 1989, and who had also received Ford, Mellon, and Spencer fellowships. 298 of these completed the interviews. 35% were white, 32% Hispanic, 28% African-American, 4% Asian-Pacific Islander, and 3% Native American. The numbers of men and women were nearly equal. Their fields of study were as follows: 43% humanities, 26% social sciences, 20% sciences, 4% education, and 4% in ethnic and/or gender studies.

These 298 persons were sorted into eight categories, depending on their experiences seeking and obtaining tenuretrack employment: 1) Sought after9%; 2) Good experiences after applying for jobs16%; 3) Experience with only one employer, but a good choice13%; 4) Limited choice9%; 5) Those who took what they could get, i.e. a default position 20%; 6) Underutilized in not obtaining a regular faculty position or the equivalent11%; 7) Lack of success in obtaining any faculty position, although they tried6%; 8) Those who did not seek a faculty position and found other employment16%. The study found that overall, the entire group was doing well. Most, regardless of race or gender, are in regular faculty positions (70%) or in postdoctoral positions appropriate to their fields (17%) Of those in faculty positions, 92% are in regular tenure-track positions or faculty posts at Ivy League institutions that do not have tenure. By and large, those who are now faculty members obtained their positions by traditional means: attending prestigious graduate institutions, delivering papers at conferences, and publishing. Their experiences contradict six myths currently prevalent about the academic labor market. Below is a quotation from the executive summary concerning the conclusions of this study.

Myth one. Because there are so few faculty of color in the pipeline, they are being sought out by numerous institutions that must compete against one another in the hiring process. Reality. The supply and bidding arguments are grossly overstated. Even in this highly select group of doctoral recipients, the difficulties of the job market and limited options affect most candidates. Theoretical frameworks that assume that supply and demand will predict an individuals experience were not supported by the study.

Myth two. The scarcity of faculty of color in the sciences means that few are available and those that are available are in high demand. Reality. The majority of scientists in this study (54%), all of whom are persons of color, were not pursued for faculty positions by academic institutions and continue to pursue postdoctoral study. Many scientists are quite concerned about finding jobs and others had already left academe for industry because of their inability to find positions.

Myth three. The kind of scholars represented in this study, both because of their competitive positioning in the market, and their elite education, are only interested in being considered by the most prestigious institutions, making it virtually impossible for other institutions to recruit them. Reality. [The] participants demonstrated a wide range of preference for desired positions, regions of the country, and institutional types. Some of these choices were based on limited mobility, but others were based on the environment the person wished to be in, a desire to teach a diverse student body, or the desire to be part of an institution that had a mission related to the individuals professional goals.

Myth four. Wealthy and prestigious institutions having resources with which ordinary institutions cannot compete are continually recruiting individuals. This creates a revolving door that limits progress for any single institution in diversifying its faculty. Reality. When people move, the reasons often focused on unresolved issues with the institution, dual-career choices, and questions of appropriate fit more so than on financial packages and institutional prestige.

Myth five. Faculty of color are leaving academe altogether for more lucrative positions in government and industry. Reality. Choices to leave academe were as often a function of the problems of academe (such as the need to establish a career before the age of 40, inhumane search processes, and the difficult job market), as they were the result of irresistible temptations from the outside.

Myth six. Campuses are so focused on diversifying the faculty that heterosexual white males have no chance. Reality. White men had a wide variety of experiences. While 20% were underutilized, 24% had a good experience in the labor market. In most of the cases where white men had difficulty finding a regular faculty appointment, the fields in which they specialized had virtually no openings. White men who had expertise related to diversity had a significant advantage on the job market."

This last finding brings us back to the beginning. Colleges and universities in their mission statements, statements of nondiscrimination, and diversity affirmations in job announcements are looking for the best candidates possible, and more often than not, successful candidates have demonstrable experience and expertise in issues related to diversity. This may include field of study, inclusion of women and minorities in coursework taken or taught, study or performance of works by members of historically under-represented groups, and so on. Good candidates from under-represented groups are available. With a little extra effort they can be identified, invited to apply, interviewed, and in many cases hired as the best candidate in the field.

1. "Hiring the Next Generation of Professors: Will Myths Remain Excuses?" The Chronicle of Higher Education (29 September 2006), B22-B24.

2. Jonathan R. Alger, "Leadership to Recruit and Promote Minority Faculty: Start by Playing Fair," Diversity Digest (Spring 1998), 7.

3. "How Not to Diversify the Campus Work Force," The Chronicle of Higher Education (29 September 2006), B25- B27.

4. Pamela J. Bernard in "When Seeking a Diverse Faculty, Watch Out for Legal Minefields," states that "Once the rationale for the mission is clear, a college should frame its position announcements within that mission. . . . Furthermore, the college should take a holistic approach when evaluating candidates, considering the totality of each person's background and experiences." The Chronicle of Higher Education (29 September 2006), B28-B31.

5. Pp. B16-B17.

6. The Chronicle of Higher Education (29 September 2006), B32-B34.

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