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Photo: Ilana Wurman | Design Editor / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Philly.com featured Graduate School of Education professor Marybeth Gasman in a profile on Friday, who wrote a scathing critique last September of elite universities that hire few minority professors. 

In her editorial, Gasman said she was asked at a conference about the lack of faculty of color at elite institutions and replied, "The reason we don’t have more faculty of color among college faculty is that we don’t want them. We simply don’t want them," adding, "Those in the audience were surprised by my candor and gave me a round of applause for the honesty." 

Marybeth Gasman

Gasman went on to argue in the piece that universities' excuses are not sufficient, writing: "When I hear someone say people of color aren’t in the pipeline, I respond with 'Why don’t you create the pipeline?' 'Why don’t you grow your own?'" 

In June 2011, Penn President Amy Gutmann announced the five-year Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence. The plan aimed to recruit, retain and mentor a diverse faculty, and included hiring minority academics. Between 2010 and 2013, the percentage of faculty at the university who are minorities increased from 12.8 percent to 20.5 percent.

Gasman told Philly.com that Penn has improved faculty diversity under President Amy Gutmann, "'But it needs to be better,' she said."

According to Penn's website, 3.8 percent of Penn's faculty is black and 3.6 percent is Latino. 

This kind of critique from an tenured Ivy League professor struck a chord. According to the Philly.com piece, Gasman received more than 7,000 emails and dozens of phone calls from many minority professors and other academics who thanked her for speaking about the issue. However, not all the responses were positive — some called her names and demanded that she be fired.

Pam Grossman, dean of Penn's Graduate School of Education, praised Gasman's piece. She told Philly.com that Gasman is "a leading public voice" in the field.  

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