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11/19/91

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Panel calls for continued efforts toward multicultural Stanford

STANFORD -- A panel charged with reviewing Stanford University's progress in developing a multicultural community expressed pleasure that Stanford is leading the nation but concern that upcoming budget cuts may curtail that leadership.

The UCMI Review Panel, which annually grades the university on how well it is dealing with the 1989 recommendations of the University Committee on Minority Issues, held interviews with dozens of faculty, staff and students Monday, Nov. 11, through Wednesday, Nov. 13.

On the final day of the process, the panel held an "exit interview" to discuss its preliminary findings and recommendations. A final report should be ready in December, according to Sharon Parker, director of the Office for Multicultural Development.

"You have set the standard for higher education's response to multiculturalism," said panel chair Blandina Cardenas Ramirez, director of the Office of Minority Concerns at the American Council of Education.

Things to be celebrated, she said, include the university's success in increasing aggregate minority representation in the student body, the decision not to abandon or alter the need-blind admissions policy, the "evolving articulation of the centrality of the Office for Multicultural Development" and the "decentralization of UCMI responsibility to the level of deans."

Ramirez said that while Stanford has done "more than any other institution in the country," the university needs to maintain momentum during the tough times that lie ahead.

She said the panel found many areas of concern, including the impact of the budget crisis on programs and offices that serve women and minorities. The group also found a lack of minorities in top leadership in academic and, particularly, staff areas.

"The vice presidential and staff side of the house appears to be floundering," Ramirez said.

Overall recommendations, Ramirez said, call for the university to:

  • Improve communications with minority communities.
  • Strategically include minorities in decision-making bodies.
  • Address issues of disability and gender.
  • Maintain the multicultural aspects of Residential Education (which she called "national treasures").
  • Maintain an external panel review process and also develop an internal, independent review of UCMI.
  • Develop an internal "pipeline" initiative to create a pool of future minority faculty candidates.

In summary, Ramirez said, Stanford should "see the glass as half full rather than half empty."

Eight standards

The first review, in May 1990, looked solely at racial/ethnic equity issues. Since that time, Parker said, the campus has come to see "cultural diversity" as involving all cultures or communities within Stanford. Both reviews, Parker said, were based on eight standards: institutional vision and commitment; institutional planning and review; faculty; curriculum; staff; student life; admissions, recruitment and financial aid; and academic resources.

Gregory Guy, a Stanford associate professor of linguistics, delivered the report on the first standard, saying the concern was that attention was so heavily focused on budget cuts that efforts to promote multiculturalism might be "put on the back burner."

The final decisions on budget cuts, he said, "will be made by committees made up overwhelmingly by white males." The recommendations in this area were that the Board of Trustees seek a successor to President Donald Kennedy who is an advocate of multiculturalism "with a proven track record," that efforts to promote multiculturalism be rewarded and that underrepresented communities be given more say in the budget process.

"Consulting women and minorities is good, but giving them power is better," Guy said.

Guy also reported on institutional planning and review, saying panelists found "serious shortcomings in the internal review process, little evidence of accountability and a systematic failure to make progress" in many areas.

Particularly troubling, Guy said, was the lack of attention paid to the disabled. Departments, schools and vice presidential areas, the group concluded, "should be required to address disability issues."

Bernadine Chuck Fong, a Stanford trustee and vice president for instruction at Foothill Community College, reported on faculty and said she noted a "much clearer understanding" among faculty on multiculturalism than during the 1990 review.

Of concern, she said, was the "Stanford attitude" of looking outside for faculty members. More consideration, she said, should be given to developing an internal pipeline for future faculty.

Reporting on curriculum, Bacardi Jackson, a Stanford senior in computer science, said that much progress had been made with the change in distribution requirements; development of the Cultures, Ideas and Values core; and the multicultural courses funded by Irvine Foundation grants.

Still needed, she said the panel found, was more diversification of faculty, an established Center for Ethnic Studies and an end to talk of budget cuts that would dilute the performing arts, which had "an important relationship to multiculturalism."

Staff morale low

Diana Akiyama, associate dean of the chapel, gave one of the grimmer reports, on staff. She said the morale level was "significantly lower" than 18 months ago, and that women and minorities were concerned budget cuts will prevent them from breaking through the "glass ceiling."

Noted with approval, however, were three recent minority appointments: those of Michael Jackson as dean of students, James Montoya as dean of undergraduate admissions and Parker as director of the Office for Multicultural Development.

Overall, however, the group found so few women and minorities at the C7 level and above that it recommended those staffers should be given protection from layoffs.

Concern also was raised on what staff perceive as pay inequities based on race and/or gender; the university, Akiyama said, should immediately conduct an investigation into whether such perceptions are grounded. The panel made that recommendation in 1990 but no investigation was conducted, she said.

William Demmert, a visiting professor in the School of Education, said there had been "noticeable progress" made in the areas of admissions, recruitment and financial aid, but more effort needed to be made in attracting middle-class students from targeted minority populations.

"The faculty must become aware of their role" in recruiting students, Demmert said. "The culture of the institution must project the aspirations of the multicultural community it serves."

Clifton Poodry, dean of natural sciences at the University of California-Santa Cruz, said the quality of student life at Stanford was in serious jeopardy because of budget cuts.

Poodry said the cultural centers and theme houses should be protected during budget cuts and that the assistant deans who work with some of those centers had far too many duties to spend as much time as necessary with the students "who might feel isolated" in the campus community at large.

Finally, Poodry said the report on academic resources found that the academic core "remains a monolith outside the activity of multiculturalism" and that efforts to increase diversity in library holdings were "frustrated by the budget crisis."

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