The University has committed $30 million to developing a more diverse faculty, administrators announced on Monday. The funds will be dedicated to “the recruitment and support of outstanding female and underrepresented minority scholars,” University President Lee Bollinger and Provost John Coatsworth said in a statement.
The money is meant to help graduate schools across the University implement three-year diversity plans that they recently submitted to the provost's office.
The provost's office will work with the deans of individual schools to implement each school's unique diversity plan, and to “design and implement mentoring and professional development programs for junior faculty; create training materials for search committees; and exchange information on best practices,” according to the statement.
Bollinger and Coatsworth praised the cultural and socioeconomic diversity of the student body, but noted that “building a diverse university community is not the work of a moment or only of admissions offices.”
“This is about helping each of the schools reach its diversity goals,” Vice Provost Andrew Davidson said in an interview. “The one thing that became increasingly clear to the deans and to us in this process is that the situation in each school is different.” Davidson is the senior administrator most involved in the plans.
Jenny Davidson, co-chair of the Commission on the Status of Women, reviewed a University-wide 10-year study with Andrew Davidson last week and noted that these trends in the natural sciences are “surprising, and a little horrifying.”
“Looking at those studies was a bit of a wake-up call that gender diversity needs a lot of fighting for in some parts of the University,” said Davidson, of no relation to the vice provost. The report found that gender inequality is more evident in the sciences than in the humanities, Davidson, an English professor, said.
School of Nursing Dean Bobbie Berkowitz said, “Needless to say, we're extremely pleased. It is very good support for the diversity initiative that the school has internally.”
“The announcements of President Bollinger and the provost fit in very well and will help us a great deal in recruiting more diverse faculty,” she added. “We're very excited to get going.”
The central administration and the individual schools will each cover part of the cost. Of the $30 million, $15 million will come from the University's central budget, and the other $15 million will come from matching contributions from the individual schools.
The provost's office will organize a competition between the schools to allocate the funds. A committee of senior faculty members will distribute the money based upon the quality of candidates put forward, the degree to which the school is supporting current faculty, and the consistency of the enforcement of the diversity plans over time.
While all schools are looking to attract underrepresented minorities, Andrew Davidson said that schools involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields are particularly interested in recruiting and retaining female faculty members, who are significantly underrepresented in these fields.
Jenny Davidson noted that the University made significant progress in hiring female and underrepresented minority faculty members under the leadership of vice provosts Jean Howard and Geraldine Downey over the past eight years. Since that time, Columbia has hired over 30 new faculty members who are underrepresented minorities.
“I do hope that the excitement that comes from a big allocation of funding for outside hiring doesn't obscure the issue of retention and support of those already here,” she said, noting that this may be the source of the inequity that currently exists. “We can be hopeful, but we will just have to wait and see how things unfold.”
“My hope for this new allocation of resources,” she said, “is that it's the University saying it will continue to go forward because it hasn't gone far enough.”
Lillian Chen contributed reporting.