UT System implements "Rooney Rule," promotes diversity in faculty, staff

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

The UT System took a play from the NFL Thursday to eliminate gendered differences in pay and promote faculty and staff diversity.

All UT System institutions must invite minority candidates to interview during the final rounds of interviews for “senior administrative positions,” and must submit a plan to the System to end the gender pay gap in five years. The plan is based off the Rooney Rule, a policy which requires NFL coaches to interview minority candidates for head coaching jobs.

Chancellor William McRaven said in a statement that the rule would ensure faculty and staff reflect the diverse student bodies at each System institution.

“We want to ensure that qualified women and minorities have an opportunity to be considered for every senior level position,” McRaven said in a statement. “Making sure our leadership, faculty and staff reflect the changing look of Texas is not just about fairness. It’s also about effectiveness. Change starts at the top. We need administrators, campus leaders and faculty whom women and minority students can look to as role models and mentors, and who better understand the students they’re serving and where they’re from.”

Across all UT System institutions, 53 percent of the students are women compared to 42 percent of the faculty, and 39 percent of students identify as Hispanic compared to 11 percent of the faculty, according to a UT System press release. Women faculty members are paid 90 percent of what their male colleagues are paid at doctoral institutions, according to data released in 2014 by the American Association of University Professors.

Rachel Osterloh, president of the Senate of College Councils, said she supported the rule. 

“I’m glad that UT System is taking positive steps to advocate for gender equity,” said Osterloh, a government and philosophy senior. “I think that having more women and minority applicants at UT will yield more positive leadership for the system.” 

This is not the first time McRaven has advocated for more women in leadership positions. While serving as head of special operations in the military, he said women should be considered for roles previously open to men, such as Navy SEALs.

“[This rule] will put more women and minorities in a position for the selection committee to recognize the great talents that may have previously gone unnoticed,” McRaven said in a statement.

Government assistant professor Bethany Albertson said she welcomed the news of rule changes because it would set up an “institutional safeguard” to ensure women are appropriately considered for senior positions. 

“I think it’s great. We need more women in senior positions, and this is a way to make sure that they are considered,” Albertson said. “[This rule] can interrupt the process and get us to think more broadly.” 

Howard Prince, professor in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, said he supported the rule, but cautioned it would take time to fully witness its effects. The current dean of the LBJ School, Angela Evans, was “head and shoulders the best candidate” when she — the only female finalist — was selected over an otherwise all-male pool of candidates, he said. 

“You have to have a more focused and intense recruiting effort,” Prince said. “You have to decide, ‘We want to do this,’ and it’s going to take time.”