Consider the experience of Jordan, a fourth-year political science major, who was told by his professor that many African-American students do not pass her class (Brooms, 2017). This stereotyping can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, or what Claude Steele describes as a “stereotype threat,” which impacts students’ performance by challenging their academic ability or competence.
With nontenure-track faculty now comprising 70 percent of the faculty workforce, academic leaders face daunting challenges in creating proactive workplace strategies that address this new reality. Even though more than a quarter of nontenure-track faculty are now in full-time nontenure-track appointments, the majority still teach part time. Despite the urgency of addressing this dramatic shift in the faculty workforce, as we point out in Creating a Tipping Point: Strategic Human Resources in Higher Education (Jossey-Bass, 2013), higher education has been comparatively slow to realize the potential of human resources (HR) in developing strategic talent practices. By contrast, in the private sector, a twenty-year research study (Ulrich et. al., 2008) with 40,000 respondents in 441 companies found that when HR professionals develop high-performance work systems, these practices affect 20 percent of business results. Such practices, however, need to be integrated and systematic to produce these outcomes.
Incorporating material that addresses diversity issues in classes has positive effects on a number of learning outcomes. The success of efforts to make curricula more diverse depends to a large degree on faculty willingness to incorporate these materials because control of the curriculum remains in faculty hands—both collectively, in terms of course and program approval processes, and individually, in terms of daily decisions about what to teach.
Officials from the University of Wisconsin-Madison released results from a campus-wide climate survey. The survey of nearly 200 questions was conducted in the fall of 2016. All undergraduate, graduate, professional and non-degree-seeking students were invited to participate. Overall, 8,652 students, or 21% of those who were eligible, completed the survey. The survey was developed by the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement to understand students’ experiences with and perceptions about campus climate and diversity, including how people of different backgrounds and identities experience life at UW–Madison. Academic Leader Today has graphed the data from five key questions concerning perceived safety and inclusion.
For at least three decades, the myth of a lack of diversity in the faculty pipeline has lingered in academic circles. And surprisingly, the role of the department chair in building a diverse faculty has received little attention in most chair handbooks and resources. Yet arguably, the department chair occupies the most pivotal position in colleges and universities in building inclusive and diverse learning environments. Strategically positioned between the faculty and the administration, chairs are responsible for the coordination of major academic decisions that include appointments, tenure and promotion, curricular changes, pedagogical approaches, and student learning outcomes. Our new book, The Department Chair as Transformative Diversity Leader (Stylus, 2015), is the first research-based resource on the chair’s role in diversity transformation. Drawing on a substantial survey and interview sample of department chairs from across the nation, we found that strategies for hiring a diverse faculty to address the underrepresentation of women and minorities are at the forefront of department chairs’ minds.