A Diversity Candidate in Every Pool

Scott Jaschik, InsideHigherEd, Oct. 14

If the finalists for a faculty job are all white, it’s a sure thing that the new professor will be white.

That obvious statement is behind a directive issued by Madeline Wake, provost at Marquette University, to deans and department heads. No proposed hires for full-time faculty jobs will be approved, she said, unless there is at least one “diverse” candidate in the pool. (Diverse, for the purposes of the directive, is not only non-white Americans, but also people from other parts of the world.)

Currently, just over 10 percent of Marquette faculty members are non-white. The non-white share of the student body is a little higher, hitting 15 percent for this fall’s freshman class.

Wake stressed that pools might be defined in different ways for different disciplines, and that a minority candidate may not always end up in the final two or three. But in a department that receives hundreds of applications and then interviews a dozen to pick a few finalists, she said that she would want to see a minority candidate in the dozen, and that just having had some non-white résumés in the original stack of applicants wouldn’t suffice. In the past, she said, many finalist pools for faculty jobs have been all white.

“I’m not looking for less qualified candidates, but I want a good faith effort to get people in the pool,” she said.

More diversity on the faculty, she said, is essential from an educational standpoint. “The world is diverse,” she said. “And we as a university are not preparing leaders for the world as it is if we remain as white a campus as we are.”

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For example, Marten said that his department is currently conducting a search for a historian of Germany. That particularly field, he said, attracts “very, very few” minority scholars. “I’m very supportive of the policy, but we need to be realistic,” he said.

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