SPECIAL SERIES : Diversity on Campus
Diversity Hard to Achieve Among Tenure-Track Faculty
March 29, 2004 2:35 PM
Sixteen years of diversity planning has not brought the changes to tenured and tenure-track minority faculty that university officials had hoped.
Diversity within SF State's tenured and tenure-track faculty has grown 19 percent since 1987, according to unofficial human resources statistics from Dean Kenneth Monteiro. Some in the faculty and administration, however, feel not enough is being done.
The goal of SF State is to bring in tenure-track faculty that is able to teach at a multicultural university, according to Monteiro, dean of Human Relations at SF State.
“I am working on a plan to help institutionalize the value of diversity,” said Monteiro, “but we have no coherent diversity plan.”
Though the numbers have become more representative over the last 16 years, SF State is still constantly struggling with the issue of making the tenured faculty more representative of the student body, which is 69.3 percent minority for the 2003-2004 academic year.
One opportunity to diversify came and went 14 years ago. The human resources department formed a commission in 1990 to examine and provide recommendations for implementing change in faculty diversity. Since then the university has been trying to approach diversity through its affirmative action plan but has no concrete university wide approach.
Of the many objectives, one of the main goals was to ensure that each academic department implements a variety of plans, goals and departmental evaluations that could be published annually. The commission also called for "immediate and appropriate consequences” for those who failed to meet the new standards.
Sixteen years later, this plan has yet to be implemented, 16 years later, said Monteiro.
Monteiro described that a couple of key factors are important when trying to reach a diversity goal and that these ideas are key elements of a revised plan he is working on.
“You must first implement exactly which type of diversity you are looking for in a specific department,” he said, “then you must put that diversity qualification right in the job description.” He added that diversity varies by department; some could need more women, others could need more Latinos. It's all a matter of the department's needs.
Once a department has followed these first two steps, Monteiro said, then they have opened themselves to look at a variety of different candidates.
He did point out that the question of whether a university would rather have a person of color or just the best candidate for the job should be squashed.
“Diversity is different in each department and each university,” he said.
“Being able to teach at a multicultural environment is important to SF State,” he said, relating that each hiring committee has to decide what type of diversity, or if diversity itself, is important to their next tenure track hire.
Over the past 16 years, finding potential tenure-track faculty has become a priority, according to some.
“SF State has seen a significant number of retirements which means bringing in new faculty are a must,” said Nina Fendel, SF State field representative for the California Faculty Association (CFA).
“The university has made great strides in hiring a diverse faculty, but any looming budget cuts could place those strides in jeopardy,” Fendel said.
CFA president Turitz agreed with the faculty turnover loss.
“We’re losing faculty and not even replacing on a 1 to 1 basis,” Turitz said.
“We are being paid a 15 percent lower salary just because of the cost of living in the Bay Area,” said Turitz. He said some candidates come to San Francisco, look around at the prices and say forget it.
Tomas Almaguer, dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, expressed the same sentiment.
“Part of the difficulty is the expense of living in the city,” said Almaguer.
Monteiro disputes the claim of expense as a problem for bringing diversity.
Monteiro, Almaguer and Turitz did all agree on one issue -- SF State is not doing as much as it can to bring diversity to the tenure and tenure track positions.
“I don’t believe, based on the data, that at the rate we’re going we are tapping minimally into diversity resources,” said Monteiro.
“I wish we could speed up the diversity hiring process,” said Turitz, “but it is possible, due to budget constraints, that hiring might get frozen.”
When asked which group he would like to see more represented, Almaguer pointed towards the Latino professors. Latino tenure and tenure-track faculty have only moved up to six percent in 2003 from two percent in 1987, according to statistics. At the same time, the Asian faculty has jumped to 14 percent from seven percent in the same period.
According to the SF State Affirmative Action report, last updated in July of 1999, African American and Latino tenure track are listed as underrepresented. Both groups hover around six percent of the tenure-track makeup. In contrast, both groups have a slightly higher representation in the Bay Area, according to the 2000 Census. The Bay Area, which includes immediate counties around San Francisco, is 19 percent Latino and seven percent black.
Because of the large diversity in the Bay Area, where only 50 percent of the population is white as compared to the national average of 78 percent, Almaguer is hopeful in recruiting more minorities to SF State.
“San Francisco, in general, is a huge lure for the academic world,” Almaguer said.
“The issue is not like the 1960’s where the doors were being knocked down, but we do face the issue of diversity on a different level,” said Monteiro.
No matter what level diversity hiring stands at, some feel that even with the available resources achieving a diverse tenure-track faculty is still tough.
“It’s hard to get minorities to apply,” said Mitch Turitz, CFA chapter president at SF State.
He explained that applicants for tenure track file applications with several universities and that SF State occasionally gets out bid for a candidate by other CSU’s.
“Last year alone we only completed 1 out of 3 tenure-track searches in the library,” said Turitz, a SF State librarian.
The constant shrinking of the faculty is a concern raised by Joe Torres when dealing with hiring more minority tenure-track professors.
“The faculty is just not as large as it was 10-15 years ago,” said Torres, the SF State Affirmative Action Coordinator.
“With less opportunity to diversify, we are barely holding on with our fingertips,” said Torres.
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