Faculty / Staff Diversity Research Paper Starter

Faculty / Staff Diversity

(Research Starters)

There are many thoughts as to what the role of diversity should be on many campuses across the country. Some would argue that each institution should be reflective of the community it represents, whereas others believe that diversity initiatives discriminate against the majority population. There is an exploration of how academic institutions implement diversity initiatives (i.e. the hiring process). Although there was significant growth, higher education has become concerned with the faculty shortage that was predicted to occur as a result of faculty member retirement. There is a discussion of how institutions, especially community colleges, expect to deal with the anticipated faculty shortage.

Keywords Accreditation; Adjunct Faculty; Community College; Diversity Initiatives; Engagement; Higher Education; Remedial Courses; Talent Management


There are many thoughts as to what the role of diversity should be on many campuses across the country. Some would argue that each institution should be reflective of the community it represents, whereas others believe that diversity initiatives discriminate against the majority population. This article explores how institutions implement policies and programs in order to increase diversity initiatives and awareness on the various campuses throughout the United States.

Why is Diversity Important?

"The function of the university is not simply to teach breadwinning, or to furnish teachers for the public schools or to be a centre of polite society; it is, above all, to be the organ of that fine adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life, an adjustment which forms the secret of civilization" (DuBois, 2005, p. 85). DuBois had a vision that institutions of higher education played a key role in shaping the minds of our future scholars. It was the institution's responsibility to bridge the gap between learning and taking the wealth of knowledge into the real world. "Colleges and universities bear special responsibilities not only as custodians of knowledge that create, disseminate, and perpetuate knowledge in society but also as institutions with moral responsibilities to maintain the well being of society" (Wilcox & Ebbs, 1992, p. xix). The faculty members were charged with educating and preparing students to enter the real world, which was pluralistic and diverse. In order to achieve this goal, institutions had to provide an atmosphere and culture that allowed students to learn from different perspectives.

Support for Diversity Initiatives

For the leadership of higher education institutions, diversity is not a luxury; it is a necessity. "With the changing demographics of student populations and the emergence by 2060 of a "minority majority" country, faculty and staff on university and college campuses must reflect the increasingly diverse nature of the United States population; homogeneity is not an alternative" (Evans a& Chun, 2007, p. 2). Some compelling arguments to support diversity initiatives include:

• Engagement - This concept supports the notion that faculty service and the learning experience goes beyond the campus. It implies that there is a two way relationship for students learning in an academic setting. Wood (2003) suggests that students learn from the wider campus experience as well as from those that work at the college (i.e. faculty and staff) who are assigned to impart knowledge into the minds of the student body. As a result, "the engaged campus builds on higher education's contribution to society and history of higher education that has always been inextricably intertwined with the larger purposes of American society" (Woods, 2003, p. 14).

• Talent Management - There is a need for a diverse faculty and staff population in order to stay competitive in a global economy. Hiring and retaining qualified faculty and staff is the most important factor in maintaining a competitive strategic advantage (Evans & Chun, 2007). There are many benefits of having a talented workforce. For example, "talented administrators enhance institutional capabilities through innovation, speed, efficiency, technological know-how, and social capabilities such as leadership, collaboration, communication, and a shared mind-set. Talented faculty bring innovation, disciplinary expertise, new research perspectives, and successful pedagogical approaches to the table" (Evans & Chun, 2007, p. 2).

• Civic Preparation - When students graduate from an institution that has a diverse community, they are better prepared to enter and meet the challenges of a global society. Research supports the impact of diversity in promoting student learning outcomes (i.e. critical thinking, intellectual engagement) and democracy outcomes (i.e. citizenship, engagement, racial and cultural understanding) (Gurin, Dey, Hurtado & Gurin, 2002); and in enriching the educational outcomes of undergraduates and that the "vitality, stimulation, and educational potential of an institution are directly related to the composition of the student body, faculty, and staff" (Milem, Chang & Antonio, 2005, p. 16).

• Institution Quality - Diversity and quality combined assist in the formation of a strong and durable constituency (Clayton-Pedersen & Musil, 2005). Institutional distinctiveness is formulated from an organization's culture that has a common set of values that are translated into policies, procedures and practices (Townsend, Newell & Wiese, 1992), and diversity and quality provide an opportunity for institutional differentiation (Evans & Chun, 2007). With the support of effective leadership, diversity can transform institutional culture and pedagogical approaches (Aguirre & Martinez, 2002) and create a foundation for institutional distinctiveness.

• Accreditation - Receiving and maintaining accreditation is a focal concern of institutions of higher education. Without it, they can not offer credible degrees and students cannot receive financial aid. "Accrediting agencies have increasingly emphasized the importance of diversity, demanding evidence of concrete and tangible actions related to the incorporation of diversity in campus programs and practices" (Evans & Chun, 2007, p. 3).

Diversity Hiring

"In the last ten years, many colleges, universities, boards, and agencies have jumped on the diverse faculty/hiring bandwagon not only by issuing resolutions, policies, and mandates, but also by inventing programs, initiatives, and strategies all intended to increase the number of faculty and staff of color in predominantly White institutions" (Kayes, 2006, p. 65). However, statistics show that most institutions still have 80-90% of the faculty and staff being members of the predominant group (Kayes, 2006). Why is there still a disconnect between the institutions and the communities that they represent? There are several reasons and Kayes (2006) discusses them in her article. Some of these reasons include:

• Perceptions - There are myths and assumptions regarding practices of diverse faculty/staff hiring in order to change the overall composition of the faculty. There is an assumption that: Those at the top support diversity initiatives, and; those on search committees have diversity as a top priority. Although senior leadership support of diversity initiatives is critical, the institutional culture must support the initiatives in order for the practices and plans to be successful.

• Resistance - Institutions that have a high level of resistance will find that it is hard to change the culture and environment. People bring their baggage and stereotypes with them.

• Sensitivity - In Bennett's (1993) model, there are three levels of intercultural sensitivity, and they are defense, minimization, and acceptance. Those individuals who fall in the "defense" category see cultural...

(The entire section is 3535 words.)