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Feature

Two women of color writing on flip charts.

Mentoring seminars are sponsored by the Office for Multicultural and Academic Affairs. About 20 percent of the three most recent freshman classes on the Twin Cities campus have been students of color.

U makes gains in faculty and staff diversity

By Gayla Marty

From Brief, November 23, 2005

Faculty and staff diversity at the U is making steady though modest gains, four University leaders reported to the Board of Regents November 10. In 2004, people of color made up 14 percent of the faculty systemwide--an increase near 50 percent since 1994. Women made up 29 percent, a 20 percent increase in the same decade.

Diversity is a critical component for providing a high-quality educational experience for students, researchers, and scholars. Demographic changes across the country and on campus "require us to do better with students from historically underrepresented groups," the group said. To illustrate, associate vice president Geoffrey Maruyama cited the last three freshman classes on the Twin Cities campus, in which about 20 percent were students of color. Diversity also allows the U community to draw on knowledge and perspectives from different U.S. groups and around the world.

The Board of Regents heard the annual update on diversity at their November meeting. It was delivered by senior vice president for system administration Robert Jones, vice president for human resources Carol Carrier, interim associate vice president for multicultural and academic affairs Maruyama, and director of equal opportunity and affirmative action Julie Sweitzer. The report was based primarily on data gathered by the Office of Human Resources in 2004.

How many U employees in these groups?

* Faculty
3,870
* P&A 4,298
* Executive P&A 324
* CSBU 9,724

Source: EOAA, October 31, 2004.

Steady but slow progress is being made to increase the numbers of women. Women now make up 56 percent of academic professional and administrative (P&A) staff, and they are 44 percent of "executive" P&A staff--those with titles such as vice president, chancellor, system director, and dean. The number of women in civil service and bargaining unit (CSBU) staff positions is steady at 61-62 percent.

Underrepresentation of people of color continues, too, with steady but slower progress. People of color now make up 9 percent of all P&A staff, 6 percent of executive P&A staff, and 12 percent of CSBU staff. Compared to peer universities in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), the U's percentage of faculty of color is low--particularly in math, science, engineering, and business. Yet the University of Minnesota employs one-fifth of all American Indian faculty members across CIC schools. And recent turnover of faculty of color and women faculty has been comparable to turnover of other faculty members.

While similar data on persons with disabilities is not gathered, the Twin Cities Disability Services office works with more than 600 faculty and staff members each year on making reasonable accommodations in their work environments.

Comparable data on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) staff is not tracked, either. But the Twin Cities GLBT Programs office serves more than 200 faculty and staff members per year through its various programs. It maintains an e-mail list of more than 700 members that includes GLBT persons and allies.

Each campus has an office or individual responsible for disability accommodations and GLBT issues, and the Twin Cities Disability Services and GLBT offices now have systemwide responsibilities.

Existing and increasing campus diversity must be recognized and opportunities developed to make the most of it, enriching the intellectual environment and helping to prepare everyone on University of Minnesota campuses for success.

An important indicator of the campus climate is the number and types of problems reported to the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) office. That office responds to discrimination concerns and tracks the number of contacts about discrimination and harassment that faculty, staff, and students make. In the mid-1990s, the number was under 200 per year; it rose above 350 by 2000 and has dropped during the last two years.

Currently, Sweitzer said, the issues people bring are more likely to be about a hostile environment than about explicit, offensive statements. This has led the EOAA office to refocus its efforts on cultural and organizational change.

Challenges ahead include academic restructuring--which also presents an opportunity to make significant improvement. Professional development will be required for U leaders to work effectively with an increasingly diverse work force. Existing and increasing campus diversity must be recognized and opportunities developed to make the most of it, enriching the intellectual environment and helping to prepare everyone on U campuses for success.

Initiatives and ongoing programs to keep improving

The report outlined several ongoing programs and initiatives for retention and continued improvement. "Keeping Our Faculties," a series of three national conferences hosted at the U, seems to be yielding results, said Jones. The most recent conference addressed the recruitment and retention of faculty of color, particularly in science, engineering, and business.

* A new vice president for access, equity, and multicultural affairs position has been created, and interviews are in progress.

* President Bruininks created a Consortium for Postsecondary Academic Success to organize and coordinate the University's preK-12 activities. The University's role in preK-12 education is also a topic in the strategic positioning process, now in progress.

* "Bridge funds" continues to be offered to colleges for new hires with the goal of enhancing the opportunities to recruit and retain highly qualified faculty.

* The President's Faculty Multicultural Research Awards encourage and support research by faculty of color and promote research on issues related to people of color, particularly people of color in a North American context. More than 100 faculty members have received funding since the awards were established in 1995.

* The newly created Schochet GLBT Research Awards are jointly sponsored by the Schochet (SHOK-et) Endowment, Multicultural and Academic Affairs, and the Twin Cities campus College of Liberal Arts. The annual awards will support research and scholarly inquiry addressing GLBT issues.

* Training and orientation programs offered by the Office of Human Resources incorporate presentations by EOAA staff.

* The EOAA office has expanded its education and training efforts, including a Web-based unit, "The Power of Respect to Affect Lives."

* On the Twin Cities campus, a Women's Faculty Cabinet is being formed under the purview of the vice provost for faculty and academic affairs to link the Office for University Women and the provost.

* Internal research is tracking those who received faculty position offers from the U over a four-year period to determine reasons for accepting and not accepting offers.

* The U is participating in a national survey of junior faculty, Collaboration on Access to Careers in Higher Education (COACHE).

* A Pulse Survey on campus climate was conducted for the first time in 2004 and will be repeated in February 2006.

* Many colleges conduct exit interviews with faculty and staff who leave the U, and an exit interview form is provided to all departing employees.

The regents congratulated the group on the University's progress and discussed ideas and outstanding challenges presented in the their report.

More information

For more information, contact Julie Sweitzer, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action director, at 612-624-9547 or eoaa@umn.edu.

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