University faculty diversity increases steadily

GW’s faculty is becoming more diverse, according to a report released by the Faculty Senate last month. The Senate reported hiring 60 women and 32 minority professors this school year.

The Senate released the Retention and Recruitment of Women Faculty and Faculty of Color report, an outline of trends in recruitment of minority faculty over the last two years, at its March meeting.

The biggest indicator of the diversity of GW’s newly hired faculty is a 140 percent increase in faculty of color recruitment in the 2000- 01 academic year from the previous year, filling 19 positions.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman submitted the report, which also shows that this year the University’s newly recruited women faculty grew 55 percent, while new minority faculty grew 28 percent over last year.

Assistant Vice President Annie Wooldridge, director of faculty recruitment, called these numbers the “most promising trends” in the report.

“In spite of year-to-year fluctuations, the numbers in these categories continue to improve,” she said.

The University’s hiring figures for junior-ranked faculty, who are not full professors, present a shrinking gender gap with 49 percent female and 51 percent male faculty members.

“We are really trying to maintain a diverse faculty that sets the right model, relative to the graduate and undergraduate population at this university,” Lehman said.

Wooldridge agreed, saying GW’s goal is to have a faculty that “mirror the diversity of our students.”

As the total percentage of minorities increased, the Hispanic faculty percentage remained at 2 percent, according to the report. Wooldridge said this was one of the least encouraging numbers in the report.

She said she is coordinating a meeting with Hispanic professors before the end of the semester to discuss ways to recruit more of them.

“It shocks me to see the stagnation,” said freshman Carlos Ortiz, who is Hispanic. “If you compare it to other minorities, the question comes up why are other minorities increasing in hires and not Hispanics.”

Other students said the diversity of faculty members is not a top concern.

“As long as (professors) know what they’re teaching, it doesn’t matter what their background is,” freshman Diana Dougherty said.

GW uses several programs for faculty development, support and retention that are intended to provide a climate that will “promote the professional growth.”

The Faculty of Color-Issue Discussion and Network Opportunities and the Mentoring Representative Group made a “major impact” in improving the retention rate of faculty, Lehman said. These programs are meant to offer guidance and plan events for faculty of color, according to the report.

While the report suggests improvement, it also says “our progress is slow and obviously we cannot relax our efforts.”

Wooldridge said she encourages all University departments “value diversity” in their recruitment efforts. She said workshops with different schools and training to review applications and evaluate candidates without bias help all departments recruit fairly.

GW ranks lower in faculty diversity than other D.C. universities, placing sixth out of nine schools in female faculty percentage and fifth in faculty of color.

“We should definitely strive to increase diversity, but (the University) shouldn’t compromise quality for a high percentage point,” Dougherty said.

Lehman said the University will continue to focus attention toward recruiting a more diverse faculty.

“We still have a ways to go, but there are some very positive trends and over time, I think, we’re going to get there,” Lehman said.

-Kate Stepan contributed to this report.

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