More faculty of color now


Photo Credit: Mel Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

According to most recent data, people of color jointly compose only 23.8 percent of overall faculty here at UT and are paid less than white faculty of their same field and experience level. UT has a distressing scarcity of women of color, so few that Janet Dukerich, senior vice provost for faculty affairs, said it is impossible to conduct a study on intersectional discrimination while preserving confidentiality.

This disparity has persisted, to varying degrees, throughout UT’s history. Good intentions from administrators are insufficient to fix equity problems so large and so crucial to this university’s success. Policies need to be paired with concerted implementation.

UT does have a plan to build a diverse, inclusive faculty but they need to fully actualize it.  In 2017, Dr. Leonard Moore, vice president for Diversity and Community Engagement, led the University in the creation of the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. The plan is a multi-pronged approach to increase campus inclusivity. Its authors provide strategies to hire more faculty of color and to treat them equitably when they arrive. The plan has yet to be fully implemented.

We still need to improve hiring practices such as minimizing unconscious bias and actively competing for faculty members from underrepresented groups. Recruiters need training to ensure their criteria and job descriptions do not exclude minority candidates. And in fields with fairly homogeneous labor pools, including STEM fields, UT needs to more aggressively recruit candidates of color. Moore suggests UT

recruit faculty like “we recruit football players ... If we are serious and intentional about it, we can make it happen.”

When UT does hire minority faculty, they must fully support them. Equal pay is crucial and so is equal access to leadership. Dukerich says many colleges are “sorely lacking” underrepresented faculty in leadership positions. Leadership training is available, but UT must encourage more minority faculty to take advantage. When faculty of color are put in leadership positions, they have more agency to advocate for themselves and others.

The quicker we implement policy — increase the number of faculty-of-color and improve their treatment, for example — the quicker our university becomes a richer intellectual campus. Richard J Reddick, associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy and member of the Council for Racial and Ethnic Equity and Diversity, argued that because professors often choose research that ties to their identity, “Racial equity ensures that we research topics that might not be apparent or deemed important by those in the politically dominant strata.” Students of color deserve to learn from teachers of color who are researching topics that speak to their experience.

For their own educational benefit, students should pay attention to the biannual UDIAP progress reports, which visualize implementation progress through Amazon-like trackers. And they should make noise if UT falls short of their promises.

We need to watch closely to ensure our university hires more faculty of color and treats them equitably. Diverse teachers strengthen higher learning and UT needs them to thrive.

Doan is an English and Plan II junior from Fort Worth.