Penn has developed a concrete plan to increase diversity in its faculty.
An advance copy of the Faculty Diversity Action Plan, which will be widely circulated on campus in the fall, was released by Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price late last month.
The two main goals of the plan are to build a more diverse faculty and to create a more inclusive campus community. The plan outlines a strategy for the University to “reflect the diversity of the world around it,” aiming to increase rates of standing female and minority faculty.
“The Faculty Diversity Action Plan is a comprehensive set of initiatives that represents a very important step on the journey towards increasing the excellence and inclusion of Penn’s faculty,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said in a statement. “Some initiatives are new and some existing ones will be significantly expanded.”
One new initiative includes pledging $100 million in faculty recruitment and retention money over 5 years, including money used for graduate and faculty fellowships. Half of that money will come from central resources, and the other half will come from the 12 individual schools.
In addition, the plan mandates that each school must develop its own plan for increasing faculty diversity by May 2012. Deans will appoint Diversity Search Officers to provide advice in the faculty search process.
“The Deans [of each of Penn’s 12 schools] are essential and supportive partners and they will be working in close collaboration with Provost Price and me on its implementation,” Gutmann said.
Faculty diversity is important at “the University where students are taught to be representatives of the world we live in,” said Camille Charles, Chair of the Faculty Senate and professor of sociology and education and the director of Africana Studies. “The more diverse we are, the more innovative we can be.”
The plan puts a similar emphasis on the importance of diversity. “We are more determined than ever to recruit and retain faculty whose excellence and diversity allow us to prepare our students to become leaders in an increasingly global society,” it states.
Although the plan “has great potential,” diversity at Penn “is nowhere near where it ought to be,” said Charles, adding that she will only be satisfied with faculty diversity when it “reflect[s] the racial constitution of the United States.”
Undergraduate Assembly President Tyler Ernst, a rising Wharton and engineering senior, said he was “impressed” by the detailed plan and believes the large monetary pledge shows a strong commitment made by the administration. “It is far from perfect … and still a work in progress,” he said, adding that he is “happy that those steps have been taken so far.”
The Diversity Action Plan addresses the inclusion of females and racial minorities on campus, but it does not address issues pertaining to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“Ensuring a climate on campus in which current LGBT faculty feel safe to come out and remain out, recruiting and hiring excellent new LGBT and ally scholars, and increasing course offerings with LGBT content are among the highest priorities of Penn’s LGBT community,” Director of Penn’s LGBT Center Bob Schoenberg wrote in an email. “I hope that the next phase of the faculty diversity planning process, which I understand is in the hands of the twelve schools, will incorporate these priorities.”
Corrine Rich, chair of Lamda Alliance — the umbrella organization for Penn’s LGBT community — felt the plan was “well-crafted,” adding that many policies were made with LGBT faculty in mind. However, no LGBT policies were explicitly put forth in the plan, which Rich explains is the result of a difficulty in identifying and quantifying the LGBT community.
“I would have liked to see more LGBT clauses in there, incentives or encouragements for future LGBT faculty to self-declare, giving them a very comfortable environment,” she added.
Although the Faculty Senate was “not directly involved in the planning,” said Charles, “the representatives from the President and Provost office spoke widely and consulted widely with a variety of constituents around the university” to develop the plan.
Gutmann said she was “grateful” for the “advice and feedback that we received from dozens of faculty, students and staff who helped to shape the Plan.”
“We look forward to working together to realize our aim of recruiting and retaining an eminent and diverse faculty,” she said.Comments powered by Disqus
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