Faculty discusses diversity and inclusivity at monthly meeting: Professors recommend ways to increase diversity among faculty

Posted by Alexander Brehm

The College faculty convened for the third faculty meeting of the semester on Friday, Nov. 5 to discuss the Office of Special Programs and its mission, the College Strategic Action Agenda and diversity and inclusion within the College.

The Office of the Dean of Special Programs (ODSP) recently welcomed Paul Calhoun, who was previously the harder chairman in business and management, as its new dean.

Calhoun said the mission of the ODSP has changed over time, and that members of the office were reviewing and reshaping its mission and objectives, though he did not specify what these changes would involve.

The seventh Strategic Action Agenda is now available on the College website. Every year, administrators and faculty review the College's current 10-year plan, now in its seventh year.

Every year, the new agenda gives an assessment of the College's progress toward achieving its goals and a set of high-priority, shorter-term objectives. The new agenda lists diversity and inclusion, science and the Civic Engagement and Transition and Transformation initiatives as themes on which to focus.

The faculty spent the majority of the meeting discussing diversity and inclusion. In May 2011, the Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding (CIGU) sent a letter of recommendation to the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC), the major authority on the College's mission and strategy.

Professors gave their recommendations on how to increase diversity among the faculty. Their names have been kept private so that they may speak freely. Some encouraged using existing tenure lines to hire people of color or to find faculty born in foreign nations.

Others suggested using "target of opportunity" hiring, in which a candidate is selected based on outstanding reputation, and the institutional benefits to retaining such a professor are considered justification to create a position for that candidate.

Other faculty members pressed for better specification of the concept of diversity. One professor observed that when each faculty member spoke to his or her own ideas of diversity, their specific not necessarily intertwine. She argued that the dialogue on diversity suffered for lack of definition.

Another professor appealed directly to the college administration on how increased diversity might be measured and what criteria would be established for determining success or failure in the College's diversity goals. Phil Glotzbach, president of the College, gave some examples of data points to use — for instance, the fact that recorded bias incidents against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people outweigh racially motivated incidents. He also cited that depression rates among students of color are substantially higher than those among white students.

One faculty member suggested a resolution to express the sense of loss the College felt at Winston Grady-Willis's decision to leave the college at the end of last year. Grady-Willis, former director of intercultural studies, was highly involved in diversity issues on campus, working as a chairman on the CIGU and a member of IPPC, and developing the Intergroup Relations curriculum. Ultimately, the resolution was laid over to improve its wording. 

Skidmore Students join protestors to surround the White House

Healthful Hints: Nutrition facts: Making and keeping healthy habits at the dinner table