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Diversification of faculty inches forward

Progress toward achieving a more diverse faculty at Stanford has been "steady but slow," according to a report that was presented to the Faculty Senate on April 30.

"I think we all would like to move faster in all dimensions," said Robert Weisberg, vice provost for faculty recruitment and development, who presented the annual report on faculty gains and losses to the senate. "And I think we have to redouble our efforts to improve. At the same time, we have to recognize there are some real constraints."

The senate tabled discussion of gains and losses among women faculty until its May 14 meeting, which will focus on the status of women in the professoriate.

In the past 10 years, the largest gains among the faculty ranks have been made in the percentage of women and people of Asian ancestry. Smaller gains have been made in the percentage of Latino, black and Native American faculty.

From Sept. 1, 1987 to Sept. 1, 1997, the percentage of women on the faculty rose from 10.19 percent to 18.12 percent, and the percentage of faculty of Asian ancestry went from 3.45 percent to 8.47 percent.

During the same time, the percentage of Latino faculty grew from 1.87 percent to 2.93 percent; the percentage of black faculty grew from 1.65 percent to 2.48 percent; and the percentage of Native American faculty increased from 0.07 percent to 0.20 percent.

During that 10-year period, the total number of faculty rose 14.9 percent, from 1,335 to 1,534.

The largest gain in numbers for women and faculty of Asian ancestry over the 10-year period came at the Medical School, which had a net gain of 192 total faculty. The total number of faculty in the other schools has remained relatively constant.

Faculty stability is a big obstacle to diversification, Weisberg said. "Retirements don't happen all that often and billet expansion doesn't occur all that often. It's quixotic to expect dramatic changes," he said.

Another serious constraint involves a dearth of minorities pursuing doctoral degrees. "The raw numbers in the pipelines are very serious constraints but not absolute determinants and they can't be excuses for not trying harder," Weisberg said.

Although hiring is done at the departmental level, he noted, the provost's office provides resources and incentives to encourage departments to find and recruit qualified minority candidates.

Provost Condoleezza Rice challenged the professoriate to help identify prospective minority faculty members at panels and conferences. "The people who know the disciplines have to surface those names," Rice said. "We can't surface them from the center."

Weisberg said that in the four years he has worked in the provost's office, "there hasn't been a case where we've been lobbied hard by a department or a school to approve or help enable an appointment of somebody who would lend diversity to the faculty about which we said, 'I'm sorry, the resources aren't there.' That just hasn't happened."


By Marisa Cigarroa

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