Almost six years after Penn initiated a plan to hire more minority faculty members, by Penn administration shows a steady increase in diversity among some, but not all university departments.
Co-issued by President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price, the updated Faculty Inclusion Report — which was published in the Penn Almanac — details the advancements made in the arena of faculty diversity since the launch of the University’s ”" in June 2011.
Providing data on the five years between Fall 2011 to Fall 2016, the report breaks down the gains and losses concerning the percentage of minority and female faculty members on campus as a whole, within each school and within different departments.
The report distinguishes between minority and underrepresented minority faculty members. Minorities include Hispanic/Latino, African American/Black, Native American/Alaskan Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander individuals. Underrepresented minorities include all groups except Asian/Pacific Islander individuals.
As of Fall 2016, Penn reported that 32.7 percent of the university faculty were female, 23.6 percent were minority and 7.9 percent were URM. These percentages represent a slow, but steady increase in hiring across these groups — in 2011, 30.7 percent of the faculty were female, 20.1 percent of the faculty were minorities and 6.2 percent of the faculty were underrepresented minorities.
The School of Nursing saw great success. It experienced the greatest increase of all schools in underrepresented minority faculty, at 11 percentage points since 2011, and the school has also experienced a 12 percentage point increase in minority faculty. There was a 5.2 percentage point decrease in female faculty between 2011 and 2016, but women represented 86 percent of the faculty in 2016.
The report states that “the Action Plan has succeeded in increasing the eminence, diversity, and inclusiveness of the Penn faculty.”
But the gains are not consistent among all departments.
While a majority of schools have demonstrated an increase in each category, some have shown decline. The School of Social Policy and Practice saw a 4.5 percentage point decrease in minority faculty between 2011 and 2016. The dental school demonstrated a 6.2 percentage point decrease in the number of URM faculty and a 9.4 percentage point decrease in the number of female faculty over the same period.
The original 2011 diversity action proposed two main goals: creating a “more diverse faculty” and fostering a “more inclusive campus community.” The university allotted $50 million over the course of five years to create an Eminence and Diversity Fund. The initiative was created by the central administration, but individual schools are responsible for carrying out goals of the Action Plan separately.
The Penn administration is mostly pleased with the reported developments.
“The successes reflected in the report would not have been possible without the strong partnership and advocacy of the 12 deans,” Vice President for University Communications Stephen MacCarthy said in an emailed statement. “We are pleased with the progress made, but recognize that there is more to be done and Penn is committed to doing more. The increasing diversity and eminence of Penn’s faculty is something of which we are enormously proud.”
Laura Perna, professor and chair in the Graduate School of Education and chair of the Faculty Senate, which has been involved in this initiative, said that she is happy about the increases, but that there is still work to be done.
“We’ve been engaged... in conversation over time to understand what’s happening in regard to this initiative and what’s happening around campus,” Perna said. “Part of what we can do is make sure people are understanding the current status, understanding the need for more progress and pushing on taking the steps that are really going to continue to make even greater progress in the future.”
By school, women slightly outnumber male faculty in the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Education.
Minority faculty members make up the greatest percentage of the standing faculty, 38.1 percent, in the School of Engineering, but make up only 15 percent of the faculty of the School of Design. Underrepresented minorities account for 18 percent of faculty in the School of Nursing and 17.9 percent of the faculty in the School of Education.
“Certainly increasing the diversity of the faculty is a priority of the faculty senate, one that we have cared about over time,” Perna said. “I think it’s important to acknowledge the progress that has been made, but it’s also important to acknowledge the progress that’s needed, especially in some of the variation across schools.”