Posted on May 31, 2005

University’s Diversity Plan Upsets Faculty

Julia Silverman, AP, May 27

PORTLAND, Ore. — A push for more diversity is causing a stir at the University of Oregon. Department heads across campus have castigated an early draft of a five-year plan, which would tie raises and promotions to “cultural competency” — the ability to successfully work with people from all backgrounds — and would give funding priority of new positions to departments that adhere to the university’s diversity goals.

The reaction in Eugene is 180 degrees from that of faculty members at Harvard University, who earlier this month hailed to a multimillion-dollar commitment to gender equity made by President Lawrence Summers.

Oregon’s plan calls for hiring up to 40 faculty members by 2012 to teach courses in a “cluster” of diversity-related topics, including race, gender, gay and disability studies as well as setting aside more financial aid for minority undergraduates and graduate students from “under-represented” backgrounds.

The critics wonder where the money will come from, and worry about the weight placed on political correctness in determining tenure.

“Many people were upset with the content in different ways; the plan was sort of an Orwellian, totalitarian plan,” said Michael Kellman, a chemistry professor.