Slow growth seen in faculty ranks; challenges remain in hiring minorities, women

Pat Jones

Pat Jones

Faculty growth over the last academic year continued at the same pace as in previous years, and only a slight gain was seen in the number of female faculty and faculty of color, according to two new reports from the Office of the Provost.

Progress in diversifying the faculty is challenging and slower than many would like, said Pat Jones, vice provost for faculty development, in delivering the reports to the Faculty Senate last week on faculty gains and losses and the status of female faculty.

"I think it was a somewhat disappointing year in terms of recruitments or net increases of faculty of color," Jones said, highlighting only modest gains in the number of Asian faculty last year. "Certainly over recent years there have been retirements, a death and other sorts of departures. And so making progress is a challenge."

Overall, the faculty grew by 42 (2.4 percent) to 1,785 last academic year, reflecting rates of appointments, departures and net gains similar to those of the previous 10 years. Most schools showed no growth or only modest growth in faculty numbers, and the only schools or divisions to increase faculty by more than 10 percent over the past five years were Earth Sciences (12 percent), the Graduate School of Business (12 percent) and the clinical sciences division of the Medical School (19 percent).

The most rapidly growing segment of the faculty continues to be in the Medical Center line, which currently makes up 29 percent of the Stanford faculty, 50 percent of the School of Medicine faculty and 57 percent of the clinical sciences faculty. Over the last 10 years, two-thirds of the net growth of the faculty has been in the Medical Center line and one-third in the Academic Council.

Medical School Dean Philip Pizzo reminded the senate that the total number of Medical School faculty ranks the university among the smallest of its peers and that growth has been carefully measured by administrators to meet strategic needs.

"I recognize that within the scope of the way Stanford looks at these faculty numbers, they seem a bit different from other schools," Pizzo said. "I think we are different from other schools at Stanford. But we are also different from other schools of medicine in the nation. And I think we've actually made a lot of progress in achieving the right kind of management oversight of faculty billets, as even measured by the fact that whereas we were traditionally growing at about 30 billets a year, we've really slowed that growth down over the last handful of years."

Among faculty of color, growth has been slow except for Asians, half being in the clinical sciences and now representing 11 percent of the faculty compared to just over 8 percent 10 years ago. Although the ranks of African American faculty have grown by eight members to 45 over the past decade, the percentage has remained roughly the same at about 2.5 percent. The number of Hispanic faculty has nearly doubled over the past decade, however, rising from 32 to 61 since 1994, a growth from about 2.3 to 3.4 percent of faculty. The number of American Indian faculty has grown from one to three since 1994.

The percentage of female faculty members has risen a bit more steadily over the last decade, growing from 17 percent 10 years ago to 20 percent five years ago to 23 percent last year. However, the number of female faculty increased by only 0.4 percent last year, with 16 new hires.

Over the last five years, all schools and divisions showed increases in the number and percentage of female faculty, with women comprising high proportions of the net increases in faculty. The proportion of women among tenured faculty increased in all schools and divisions except for the School of Law. Over the last five years, 29 percent of the junior faculty hires have been women, although last year was, at 25 percent, the lowest of the five years. Twenty-three percent of the senior hires over the last five years have been women (last year's tally was 24 percent—all in the School of Humanities and Sciences).

Jones noted that the overall percentages of faculty who have received tenure from 1975 to 1997 have been about the same between male and female faculty, although there was variation among schools and divisions. The representation of women among associate deans, department chairs, members of the Faculty Senate and endowed chair-holders are at all-time highs, she noted.

Jones outlined a number of challenges to recruiting and retaining high-caliber and diverse faculty, including constraints on growth, resources and billets; slow faculty turnover; generating a top-quality and diverse applicant pool; inadequate pipelines; the Bay Area location and cost of living; competition with other institutions; and various work/family issues.

"So how do we reach these goals?" Jones asked. "The two words that I like to use are diligence and vigilance. The diligence is really on the part of the faculty who are doing the searches—that it's up to you to identify and attract the applicant pools that will let us recruit the best and the brightest and also the most diverse faculty.

"In terms of vigilance, there's also vigilance on the part of the faculty as a whole … to make sure the search committee is doing the right thing for the search. And, of course, to our department chairs, division chiefs, cognizant deans and deans, to make sure that all of these efforts are proceeding as they should and that we enhance our rate of progress in recruiting the kinds of faculty we want here."