UC launches major push to increase faculty diversity

The University of California announced today (Sept. 26) that it will commit more than $7 million annually to expand existing programs to increase faculty diversity as well as create new ones that help ensure students on all 10 UC campuses benefit from a faculty that better reflects California’s diversity.

UC President Janet Napolitano said that while the university has made significant progress in hiring and retaining faculty from underrepresented groups, including women, there was much more work to be done.

“We know that students’ academic performance and career aspirations are enhanced when faculty of similar backgrounds serve as role models,” Napolitano said from the UC Board of Regents meeting at UCLA. “Moreover, teaching, research, innovation and service thrive when all members of our community are welcomed and supported. That’s what we want at UC.”

Napolitano said the university will allocate a combined total of up to $7.1 million a year to support a range of programs that have been shown to improve faculty diversity — including those that strengthen the pipeline of graduate students who plan a career in academia — as well as new efforts based on best practices. Several such programs have shown strong results thanks to $2 million in state funding for each of the past three fiscal years.

“We project accelerated growth in the number of ladder-rank faculty who will join UC in the next decade, in large part to educate our growing student enrollment,” said UC Provost Michael Brown. “We need to seize this opportunity to make progress on the efforts to increase faculty diversity.”

In the past year, 44.1 percent of new ladder-rank hires were women and 17.1 percent were from underrepresented groups. The percentage of women faculty has increased steadily over time and women now account for one in three ladder-rank faculty. The gender and racial/ethnic makeup of faculty varies greatly by discipline, however. Both women and racial minorities are more heavily represented in the non-STEM disciplines.

The new and expanded faculty diversity programs will center on what Brown calls a sustained, ongoing approach that identifies and cultivates talent and offers instructional programs, services and incentives that recognize the ways underrepresented groups make decisions about whether to pursue faculty careers.

“Without this new funding, and the commitment of our campus chancellors and faculty, we might lose a generational opportunity to position UC as a leader in cultivating and mentoring the next generation of scholars and thinkers,” he said.

The provost and other UC leaders discussed the university’s faculty diversity efforts with regents during a meeting of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee that explored data contained in UC’s Annual Accountability Sub-Report on Diversity.