Senate discusses faculty diversity, the ‘Ways’ requirement, emeriti

Speakers at the meeting included Professor Karen S. Cook, vice provost for faculty development and diversity; Professor C. Matthew Snipp, senior associate vice provost for faculty development and diversity; Professor Robert Weisberg, special assistant to the provost for faculty recruitment and retention; Yan Li, research analyst in faculty development and diversity; Professor David Palumbo-Liu, chair of the Breadth Governance Board; Professor Judith Goldstein, chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy; and Professor Emeritus David Abernethy, a member of the Emeriti Council.

Karen Cook in foreground, Matthew Snipp in background

Karen Cook and Matthew Snipp presenting a report on faculty diversity to the Faculty Senate on Thursday. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

At its final meeting of the academic year, the Faculty Senate discussed a variety of issues, including faculty diversity, Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing and the Emeriti Council.

In a Stanford tradition, the senate also bid farewell to its outgoing chair, Debra Satz, a professor of philosophy, with a humorous skit based on a mock senate presentation by Richard Saller, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences.

At the beginning of the meeting, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne thanked Satz and Academic Secretary Hans Weiler for their leadership and service, and asked the senate to join him in applauding them.

“As my first academic year comes to a close, I wanted also to take a moment to thank all of you for welcoming me,” Tessier-Lavigne said.

“It’s been a very warm welcome and a very productive year. I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to discuss at the senate some critical issues, especially in recent months as we’ve grappled with concerns related to policies emanating from Washington on immigration, and on support for education and research. I will be able to report on federal matters more when we reconvene in the fall.”

The Stanford professoriate

Karen Cook, vice provost for faculty development and diversity, presented some highlights from the university’s annual report on its professoriate, including a current profile, faculty arrivals and departures, and progress in diversifying the professoriate.

“The 2015-16 academic year was a good year with respect to hiring a more diverse faculty, though we still have a way to go,” Cook said.

Debra Satz at the Faculty Senate meeting.

Debra Satz, outgoing chair of the senate, was honored at the meeting.

The report said Stanford’s professoriate reached 2,180 in 2016, including 1,562 men and 618 women. In 2016, women composed 28.3 percent of the faculty, compared with 27.6 percent the prior year.

While most schools and clusters had a female representation close to or higher than the 28.3 percent university average, gender distributions varied by school. The humanities and arts cluster within the School of Humanities and Sciences had the highest percentage of women faculty (41 percent), followed by the Graduate School of Education (37 percent), Stanford Law School (36 percent) and the social science faculty of H&S (29 percent).

Last year, women composed 33 percent of Stanford Medicine’s basic science departments and 30 percent of its clinical science departments. Women composed 21 percent of the faculty of the Graduate School of Business and 21 percent of H&S’s natural science faculty. Within the School of Engineering, women composed 16 percent of the faculty last year.

Last year, Stanford hired 111 faculty members, among whom 40 percent (44) were women – the highest percentage in the last decade. Last year, 84 members of the faculty departed, for a variety of reasons, resulting in a net gain of 27 faculty members in 2016.

Minority distribution

In 2016, members of minority groups composed 25 percent of Stanford’s faculty, up from 24 percent in 2015. Underrepresented minorities (URM) made up 8 percent of the faculty in 2016, up from 7 percent in 2015.

In 2016, the Stanford professoriate included 542 members of minority groups, including 166 members of underrepresented minorities (including 8 URM multiracials) and 376 members of other minorities (including 12 non-URM multiracials).

Minority distribution varied by school and cluster. The Graduate School of Education had the highest percentage of total minority faculty, with 29 percent, including 5 percent underrepresented minorities, followed by the School of Engineering, with 26 percent total minority faculty, including 8 percent underrepresented minority faculty.

Within the School of Humanities and Sciences, the total minority faculty in each cluster – humanities, natural sciences, social sciences – was 22 percent. Underrepresented minority faculty made up 9 percent in H&S’s humanities cluster, 4 percent in natural sciences and 10 percent in social sciences.

At the Graduate School of Business, minorities composed 19 percent of the faculty, including 8 percent underrepresented minorities. At Stanford Law School, minority faculty composed 16 percent of the total faculty, including 11 percent underrepresented minorities. At Stanford Earth, minority faculty made up 8 percent of the total faculty, including 5 percent underrepresented minorities.

Among the 111 faculty members hired last year, 42 were members of minorities, including 16 underrepresented minority faculty members. Last year, among the 84 faculty members who departed Stanford for a variety of reasons, 19 were minorities, including 4 underrepresented minorities.

Selected pages from the Report on the Faculty: Professorial Gains & Losses Academic Year 2015-16 is posted online on the website of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity.

Interim report on Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing

In other business, Judith Goldstein, professor of political science and chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy, presented some preliminary findings of an interim report on Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing, the breadth requirements Stanford introduced four years ago for undergraduates.

Under “Ways,” students must take 11 courses in eight academic areas at any time during their undergraduate years: aesthetic and interpretive inquiry; applied quantitative reasoning; creative expression; engaging diversity; ethical reasoning; formal reasoning; scientific method and analysis; and social inquiry.

“As it turns out, we didn’t have complete data for a full class, so I’m presenting you with what we have and we’re recommending that we move forward in the next year or two for a complete report,” Goldstein said.

The review focused on two topics: how students fulfilled their Ways requirements and how the shift to Ways changed their educational profiles.

The committee asked: Has course-taking changed over time, when controlled for change in student majors? (Since 2008, the number of students majoring in engineering has increased, and the number of students majoring in humanities and sciences has decreased.) The answer: The median student took one more engineering course, one more arts course, and one to two fewer humanities courses.

Emeriti Council

In his annual report to the Faculty Senate, David Abernethy, a member of Stanford’s Emeriti Council, said the university has more than 700 emeriti faculty members, including more than 600 who live locally. To help foster a sense of community among them, the council sponsors a speaker series each year. During its “Autobiographical Reflections” series this year, Nobel Laureate Paul Berg, biochemistry; James Sheehan, history; and David Hamburg, human biology and medicine, shared personal and professional reflections with audiences of emeriti faculty.

The full minutes of the June 15 meeting, including the questions and answers that followed the presentations, will be available soon on the Faculty Senate website.