By Jessica Wang
Cal Poly Pomona faculty gathered for a talk by a prominent researcher on diversity hiring practices on Oct. 5, where strategies to enhance the number of minority faculty members were addressed.
Daryl G. Smith, a senior research fellow and professor emeritus of education and psychology at Claremont Graduate University, spoke to university leaders and staff about the positive impact on decision-making that would result from better faculty diversity, citing the need for CPP faculty to be more reflective of its diverse student body.
“For the most part, she gave strategies on how to attract and then successfully recruit staff and faculty of color”specific things that we can do,” said Lauren Nile, interim director of training and professional development in the Division of Administrative Affairs.
Titled “Diversity’s Promise for Excellence in Higher Education: Effective Strategies for Diversifying the Faculty,” Smith’s presentation also examined hiring statistics on campus since 2006, finding that the hiring of African American, Latino and Asian American faculty remained stagnant, with international faculty growing by 12 percent, according to an article on PolyCentric.
According to the Common Data Set Report for the 2015-16 academic year made available by Institutional Research and Academic Resources, 34 percent of CPP faculty members were from minority groups, 40 percent were women and 3 percent were international nonresidents.
Nile offered speculation on why faculty diversity may not be as perceptible in comparison to student diversity.
“Starting with diversity by sex, I would say that traditionally there have not been nearly as much women in the field as there have been men, and that’s been due to historic discrimination against women,” said Nile. “It certainly doesn’t have to do with the fact that women don’t have the brains.”
“In terms of race and ethnicity, again, I’d look at years”decades, I can say centuries without overstating the case”of discrimination against [people of color],” added Nile. “We just weren’t in those fields in large numbers.”
According to Nile, placement of a trained diversity advocate on each faculty search committee would improve the number of faculty of color.
Alternatively, search committees are also required to place ads in minority population-specific publications to obtain a more diverse applicant pool.
Nile weighed in on the importance of diversity for student success rates.
“For many years, studies have been done on what we call internalized depression,” said Niles. “That is, when you’re from an underrepresented group”what does it do to your psyche to never see anyone who looks like you in a position of authority, to never see anyone who looks like you in a position that you might aspire to one day?”
Linda Hoos, chief diversity officer in the Office of Equity, Inclusion and Compliance, shared similar insights surrounding the discrepancy between faculty and student diversity.
“Historically, PhD candidates were not as diverse in the past, but this is changing,” said Hoos, citing research that indicates decision-making often stems from what individuals are comfortable with. “It’s about breaking down unconscious bias.”
Hoos weighed in on the biggest challenges of faculty searches and recruitment.
“It depends on who you ask, but through my perspective, it’s breaking through misconceptions about checking a box,” said Hoos, stating that while the workforce is not permitted to focus solely on ethnicity, sex or gender, the overall goal is to bring committed individuals who inhabit the cross-cultural competency needed for a diverse campus.
Hoos cited expansive worldviews as the most beneficial aspect of faculty diversity, recalling Smith’s airbag analogy during her Oct. 5 talk: when airbags were first invented, the size and build of women and children were not accounted for in crash test dummies. If perspectives were less homogenous during that time, results would have been different in terms of accidents.
“More perspectives strengthen the university,” said Hoos.
Robert Diep / The Poly Post
Faculty and staff diversity workshop
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