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Faculty diversity considered IU goal


By Nick Sobecki



As interim provost, now-President Michael McRobbie made increasing diversity at IU-Bloomington a campus-wide goal in 2007.

Last week, Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel said in her State of the Campus address that the percentage of minority faculty has grown to 31 percent.
However, minorities comprise 18.6 percent of the Bloomington faculty, according to the IU Fact Book.

“That was a prepositional error,” said Elisabeth Andrews, communications specialist in the Office of the Provost. “It should have been ‘by,’ not ‘to.’”

The numbers only reflect tenured and tenure-track faculty members who work full-time and who decide to answer questions pertaining to race and ethnicity when prompted by software such as OneStart, Schmitz said.

Jean Robinson, executive associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the issues of student body diversity and faculty diversity go hand in hand, because in order to get the students, you have to have the faculty.

“I think the importance of having a diverse faculty on staff is so that students can say, ‘Hey, there are people like me in these fields,’” said Pamela Bilo, co-president of Women in Computing’s graduate group. “Computer science is overwhelmingly male, and a lot of times there is a guy culture that is around computer science. If you see that there are only men in computer science, then you may think that it’s not for you.”

However, diversity doesn’t just mean race, ethnicity or gender. It could also be how professors approach the subjects they are teaching and their diverse opinions on their topics, Robinson said.

“This year, in collaboration with Vice President Ed Marshall and Affirmative Action Officer Julie Knost, I have charged the deans to look carefully at all the areas of their programs with the diversity of the faculty in mind and have revamped the strategic hiring initiative,” Robel said at the State of the Campus address.

According to Robinson, the College of Arts and Sciences has several measures already in place.

“When a department is hiring for a new position they have to ask permission from us to interview the three people, and if on the face it seems like it’s not diverse, I ask questions,” Robinson said. “And the Office of Affirmative Action knows the gender and ethnicities (of the interviewees) — which we don’t know — and they ask why as well.”

The Office of Affirmative Action also uses federal data that looks at the number of Ph.D.s in a particular field, Robinson said. The College of Arts and Sciences then uses this data to see if faculty is taking advantage of the pool of available Ph.D.s.

“Excellence comes first,” Robinson said. “Excellent teaching and excellent research, but it is these diverse perspectives that move knowledge forward by pushing the boundaries.”

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