Staff editorial: Closing the gap

Minorities comprise 16 percent of GW’s faculty, while 23 percent of its undergraduates are Asian, Latino or black. While this gap remains high because of many variables, GW officials say they are working hard to bridge it. We encourage GW in that mission and suggest departments work to rigorously pursue top minority candidates while maintaining high standards for professors in all departments.

Students are attracted to GW, among other things, for its diverse campus. Interacting with students from all areas and backgrounds adds an element students at other universities miss out on. Professors from different backgrounds who can offer diverse viewpoints add an important dimension to a college education. Adding more diverse teachers would certainly lend more credibility to some disciplines. For example, a professor with experience living in Asia would certainly bring much to an English class on Asian gender issues.

Unfortunately students widely report little diversity in their classes.

There are many obstacles to hiring minority professors. With a limited applicant pool of degree-holders from top universities, GW competes with many other schools to lure minority candidates. GW’s progress has been limited in the past five years, as only 18 percent of new hires are minorities. Stronger efforts to recruit a diverse staff at GW are needed in departments that traditionally lack minority candidates.

As GW makes a concerted effort to make the faculty more representative of the student body, pressure to hire more minority teachers should never supercede a student’s right to have a teacher with fluent, clear English-speaking abilities.

GW should continually examine its criteria for hiring. Graduating from an elite school or being published in highly respected journals should be just one of many characteristics considered in minority faculty recruiting. Departments should keep an open mind when examining credentials and give life experience weight in decisions, especially when that experience will enhance the diversity of a GW student’s experience.

The University’s goal is not easy, as the current representation gap indicates. Finding minority teachers with the necessary qualifications and who meet qualifications are just some of the barriers faced by University faculty recruiters.

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