Emphasizing the urgency to achieve faculty diversity, a prominent national researcher on minority hiring practices addressed methods to help ensure a more diverse teaching pool for future students at Cal Poly Pomona.
“When we’re talking about faculty hiring and diversifying the faculty and faculty retention, this is about excellence,” said Daryl G. Smith, senior research fellow and professor emerita of education and psychology at the Claremont Graduate University. “It is very important that we understand that the strategies and the ways of thinking about diversifying the faculty fundamentally are about excellence.”
Smith spoke about “Diversity’s Promise for Excellence in Higher Education: Effective Strategies for Diversifying the Faculty” on Oct. 5 to an audience of university and faculty leaders.
She examined data of Cal Poly Pomona faculty hiring since 2006, which showed that 40 percent of the current faculty had been hired in the last decade and that the level of hiring of African American, Latino and Asian faculty members had remained static. However, the hiring of faculty from outside the United States increased by 12 percent. The hiring of international faculty has been a growing trend, Smith said.
Among the hiring methods Smith discussed to help boost faculty diversity are initiating proactive faculty searches and networking with other institutions to develop contacts
“This isn’t about hiring people who qualify. This is about talent. We tend to hire people who are like ourselves. How we hire diverse talent is the compelling issue for today,” Smith said.
Sep Eskandari, interim associate vice president of Academic Planning and Faculty Affairs, said that the presentation reinforced ideas already held by university leadership and faculty search committee leaders.
“From my years of experience with having been on search committees and having run search committees, everybody’s well-intentioned, everybody wants to do the best job,” Eskandari said. “I think what we don’t do as consistently as we should is the networking part, the active search part. Perhaps we don’t do enough of that.
“I think that having a proactive search, an active search through the networking, reaching out to institutions where you might reach individuals who can help you increase the quality and diversity of your applicant pool. That’s something we can do a better job of,” he said.
Smith has served as a college administrator in planning and evaluation, institutional research and student affairs. Her research, teaching and publications have centered on the organizational implications of diversity, assessment and evaluation, leadership and change, governance, diversity in STEM fields and faculty diversity.
She also has been an evaluator and consultant to numerous projects and campuses across the country and to foundations such as the James Irvine Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts.
“The more diversity we have, the more likely we are to begin thinking about things in different ways. This has been demonstrated over and over again,” Smith said. “The more diversity, the more likely you are to have different ways of thinking about solving problems.”