The University Record, December 19, 1994

Assembly sends minority faculty report back for revisions

By Mary Jo Frank

The University’s efforts to recruit more faculty of color during the last decade have been successful, but it needs to work harder to retain and promote underrepresented faculty, according to Senate Assembly’s Committee for a Multicultural University.

The Assembly last Monday accepted the committee’s report and recommendations but sent them back so committee members could address concerns raised by some Assembly members about survey results included in the report, as well as recommendations that English Prof. Leo F. McNamara said do not flow from the report’s quantitative data.

Committee Chair Rashid L. Bashshur said the committee’s goal is to improve the multicultural climate on campus.

The project, which began in January 1993, includes a literature review of materials on the topic, a review of policies and practices in the various schools within the University regarding recruitment and retention of minority faculty, a statistical analysis of recruitment and retention of minority faculty during the last decade, and an attitudinal survey of minority faculty regarding their perceptions of cultural diversity and opportunities for advancement at the U-M.

The committee found:

-- Although the proportion of Asian, African American and Hispanic assistant professors and of Asian and Hispanic associate professors at the U-M has increased since the introduction of the Michigan Mandate in the 1987–88 academic year, the proportion of African American associate professors has remained relatively constant and the proportion of both African American and Hispanic professors has decreased.

-- According to official 1990 census figures, 12.1 percent of the population of the United States is Black, 9 percent Hispanic, 2.9 percent Asian or Pacific-Islander and 0.8 percent Native American. At the U-M, 4.3 percent of the full-time, tenure-track faculty members are African American, 8 percent are Asian, 1.4 percent are Hispanic and 0.25 percent are Native American.

-- The proportion of African American faculty is lowest in the Medical School (1.2 percent), the College of Engineering (2.7 percent), the Law School (2.8 percent), the School of Business Administration (3 percent), and on the Dearborn campus (3.6 percent). Many units have no Hispanic faculty and several units have no Asian faculty.

-- In contrast to their nonminority and Asian counterparts, of those African American faculty who were assistant professors in the 1982–83 academic year, only one in five are still at the U-M, most of the remaining African American women are still assistant professors, and none of the African American women rose to the rank of professor. Since Jan. 1, 1988, the proportion of African American women assistant professors who have left the University has increased.

-- A significant proportion of the full-time, tenure-track Asian (56.1 percent), African American (18.8 percent), and Hispanic (23.3 percent) faculty of color are not U.S. citizens but come from foreign countries. Foreign citizens comprise 9.4 percent of the nonminority faculty.

-- At all ranks, full-time, tenure-track faculty of color have spent fewer years at the U-M than have nonminority faculty at the same rank.

-- In general, full-time, tenure-track faculty who are persons of color receive significantly lower salary compensation than nonminority faculty, and women faculty in general receive lower salaries than their male colleagues within each ethnic group.

McNamara and Valerie E. Lee, associate professor of education, were among those who questioned the validity of the committee’s attitudinal survey of minority faculty. Of 672 questionnaires mailed to all faculty who were members of one of the federally recognized minority groups (Native American, African American, Hispanic and Asian American/Pacific Islander), only 200 responses were received and of these, 196 were in usable form.

Critical that no attempt was made to follow-up with the 71 percent of those surveyed who didn’t respond, Lee said that if the Assembly is going to charge committees to do surveys, it should also provide the support to do the research correctly.

The committee recommends:

-- The U-M recommit itself to a policy of advancing diversity and integration in academic life. Diversity consists of enriching the cultural, ethnic and gender composition of the faculty. Integration consists of increased collegial interaction; the pursuit of common goals in teaching, research and service; interdisciplinary work; and greater tolerance and understanding among the various groups on campus.

-- The University develop and implement mechanisms to ensure the uniform adoption of the new policy by all units and departments within the campus community and monitor the progress of all units in achieving the common goals of diversity and integration. All units should be asked to develop strategic plans to achieve the common goals of diversity and integration.

-- The new policy must focus on issues of retention and climate and establish clear and attainable paths to promotion, merit review and tenure within the University. These paths must be based on the use of fair and uniform criteria for merit review and promotion. Criteria must provide for flexible weighting of quality of teaching, student advising, and University and community service, in addition to scholarship and research funding.

-- The new policy must pay special attention to the concerns of minority women faculty, including cultural sensitivity, merit review, promotion and compensation.

-- The University should continue to support special programs aimed at promoting diversity and integration such as faculty exchanges, visiting professorships, and centers for underrepresented minority and women faculty.

Chiding the reports’ critics, sociology Prof. Donald R. Deskins said the recommendations represent nothing new, adding “The University said the same thing 20 years ago.”

Bashshur said he will work on rewording the recommendations, which are scheduled to be brought back to the Assembly’s January meeting.