Faculty diversity is a worthy goal

By Ellie Ashford

Community colleges make broadening faculty diversity a priority.

Community colleges tend to have the greatest diversity among their students than other types of higher education institutions, yet they still face challenges in attaining diversity among faculty.

In California, for example, a report by the Campaign for College Opportunity found that while Hispanics compromise 44 percent of the student body in higher education, including the state’s 114 community colleges, only 15 percent of faculty are Hispanic, Community College Daily reported.

There are community colleges across the nation, however, that see broadening the diversity of faculty as a priority.

A foot in the door

“The more diverse our faculty, the more comfortable our students will feel and the more likely they will prosper academically,” says Elina Bivins, equity manager and Title IX coordinator at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) in Florida.

Hillsborough is a minority-majority institution when it comes to students, so college leaders would like to see that balance mirrored among its faculty. “We’re living in a very diverse society, and we want to make sure we cultivate and foster an environment that is free of free of harassment and hostility,” Bivins says.

HCC, winner of the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) 2017 Award of Excellence for advancing diversity, implemented several strategies to increase diversity among faculty. The college created a faculty advisory team two years ago to select minority applicants to participate in an internship program, where they can gain some teaching experience and build relationships with deans, faculty and administrators before they are hired for a permanent job. The interns work as full-time, paid, temporary instructors and are assigned a mentor.

According to Bivins, diversity has increased at Hillsborough since the Florida College System began requiring colleges to submit an annual equity report. Between 2015 and 2016, Hispanic faculty at HCC increased by 50 percent and African-American faculty increased by 14 percent.

HCC also targets faculty recruitment efforts to job fairs and other sources that tend to attract minority applicants, and the college’s Office of Equity and Special Programs hosts two diversity training sessions a year open to all faculty and staff. The latest one was on micro-aggression, and previous workshops covered employment laws, such as Title IX.

Intentional recruiting

Having a diverse staff and faculty, as well as a diverse student body, is an important priority for Joianne Smith, president of Oakton Community College in Illinois, where 52 percent of students are non-white.

“We’ve been focused on being very intentional about where we recruit future employees,” Smith says. Everyone who serves on a hiring committee must undergo cultural competency training. The training helps Oakton staff recognize their own biases and identify the kinds of questions they should ask job applicants.

Recruiters prioritize job fairs targeted to people of color. Ads for job openings prominently displays the college’s values, and during job interviews, Oakton personnel talk about the college’s commitment to diversity and equity.

Oakton’s human resources department is undergoing a transition, so statistics aren’t available, but Smith says the college has made progress in attaining more diversity, especially among administrators, where there is more turnover than among full-time faculty members with tenure. The senior leadership team – Smith’s eight-member cabinet – is majority non-white, she notes.

There’s more to the story! Read the full article in CC Daily.

Ellie Ashford

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.