Experiences Working With Diverse Faculty
Increasing the diversity of faculty at St. Cloud State University is a priority for the institution and considerable resources are expended to ensure ongoing progress. A review of institutional data indicates that the diversity of faculty has increased steadily over the past five years. In 2002-2003, SCSU had 113 (13.7%) faculty of color; in 2006-2007, the number of faculty of color increased to 142 (15.4%). This rate represents a higher rate of diversity than the surrounding area (8%) and the State of Minnesota (14%).
The role of the Office of Affirmative Action is critical to increasing the diversity of faculty. All faculty searches are carried out under substantial scrutiny by the Office of Affirmative Action. Specific recruitment resources and strategies are used by St. Cloud State University to obtain the best possible applicant pool. A significant effort is also made to notify and recruit applicants from underutilized groups. All faculty search notices of vacancy and recruitment plans are reviewed by the Office of Affirmative Action, as is the applicant pool and recommendations for interviews. Committees are required to establish written criteria for credential assessment and draft interview questions prior to any receipt of applications to create the most objective assessment tools. All search policy and procedures are made available on the web and in committee packets. Both the Office of Affirmative Action and the deans’ offices insure broadcast announcements of vacancies and standard windows of time for application.
In addition to utilizing the SCSU and MnSCU Employment Opportunities sites, the Office of Affirmation Action posts ads for all unclassified positions and facilitates the posting of Notice of Vacancy (NOV) on a variety of websites and in publications such as:
- Higher Ed Jobs.com
- Inside Higher Ed.com
- National Minority Faculty Identification Program –Online database of minority candidates
- Chronicle of Higher Education – print and online
- Minneapolis Star Tribune
- St. Cloud Times
- Various publications for specific disciplines and/or departments
- Historically Black Colleges and Universities
- Graduate School Source
Department recruitment efforts include web and conference recruiting; utilizing caucuses of underrepresented members of national professional organizations; personal contacts with potentially qualified candidates, including current students or graduates of programs, especially women, minorities and persons with disabilities.
The professional education unit has also experienced an increase in the number of faculty of color. During fall 2007, a matrix was constructed by taking a census of faculty members in the professional education unit. Data such as gender, highest earned degree, racial/ethnic status were coded into a spreadsheet and ultimately converted to SPSS. Numbers and percents within categories were converted to tables for ease of interpretation. An estimate of the diversity of school-based faculty was generated via outputting the racial/ethnic self-reports from Cooperating Teacher Surveys. Because all cooperating teachers do not return instruments, these data are not perfectly accurate in terms of frequency. However, because of the large sample size, the percentages are probably reasonably accurate estimates.
The unit faculty is more racially and ethnically diverse than the surrounding community and service region. By way of example, the White/Non-Hispanic population of the five counties sending the most students to St. Cloud State University (minus Hennepin due to its non- representative size) is 92 percent, while the parallel figure for unit faculty is 86.5 percent overall. While the ratio (13.5%) of nonwhite faculty members in the professional education unit may not appear satisfactory from an outside perspective, as evidenced by efforts to recruit and retain faculty members of color both in the unit and campus-wide, it is comparable to the figure for Minnesota, which is approximately 16.7 percent, according to a 2006 estimate generated by the U.S. Census.
Faculty members in the unit are becoming more diverse and are using their knowledge and skills related to diversity in a variety of ways. An analysis of the unit vitae indicated that during 2006-2007, 28 faculty members offered 71 trainings and presentations at the international, national, regional, and local levels. Of the 71 presentations (certainly a conservative estimate), 16 represented services to our local and regional school partners. Syllabi also reveal a wide variety of diversity activities related to faculty members’ knowledge, skills, and expertise. Approximately 40 percent of faculty members and administrators in the unit have had an international experience.
Retention of new faculty is a priority within the unit. New faculty members are assigned department mentors who provide professional support during the first years. The dean and associate dean also meet with new faculty members several time each semester to provide additional support and resources when needed. At the institutional level, the Center for Teaching and Excellence provides a peer-mentoring program for new faculty to provide guidance and support.
As can be seen from the data related to faculty demographics, we continue to strive to increase the proportion of candidates who complete field and clinical experiences under professional educators of color. However, the data reflect current practice in Minnesota and mirror the challenges at the national level. The unit understands that recruitment and retention of candidates of color into the teaching profession is a long-term goal and must continue to be a priority to make a systemic change at the local and state levels. Our new membership in the Urban Teacher Education Partnership (UTEP) with St. Paul Public schools will allow us to make improvements over time in this area.
Summary: St. Cloud State University and the unit have been successful in increasing the number of diverse faculty through deliberate and ongoing recruitment policies and procedures. As a result, candidates have ample opportunities to interact with faculty from diverse ethnic, racial, and gender groups. Faculty members within the unit are knowledgeable about diversity and are committed to ensuring that candidates develop the proficiencies as outlined in the conceptual framework.