Beginning in my inaugural address, I stated that diversity is one of the four core values for the University of Rochester. The commitment to making our University welcoming and inclusive is a never-ending one. In this report you’ll read about the significant efforts that have occurred across our University during the last 10 years. We have much of which to be proud. We still have far to go.
We continue to make steady progress in quantitative metrics. At the start of the 2015–16 academic year, 34.7 percent of our faculty were women, compared to 28.6 percent in 2006. This represents an increase from 411 women faculty members in fall 2006 to 673 in fall 2015. The proportion of faculty who identified themselves as members of an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority group was 4.3 percent in fall 2015, compared to 2.6 percent in 2006. This represents an increase from 37 underrepresented minority faculty members in fall 2006 to 84 in fall 2015. Over the last 10 years, we have doubled the number of underrepresented minority faculty on this campus and, importantly, nearly doubled the percentage. This growth in percentages shows that the number of women and minorities has grown faster than the faculty as a whole.
We also have seen progress in the diversity of those in Staff Pay Grades 50 and above. Between 2006 and 2015, the percentage of underrepresented minority employees grew from 181 to 348 (5.1 to 7.1 percent).
Each school is responsible for its own admissions programs. In aggregate, underrepresented minority enrollment has grown at the University from 7.6 to 10.4 percent between fall 2006 and fall 2015, simultaneous with improvements in relevant quality metrics.
Diversity is a complex issue, and simply counting representation, while important, does not fully describe our efforts to change our culture to become the multicultural inclusive University we aspire to be. This has been an academic year where race and diversity have been at the forefront of the national news. Across the country, the voices of minority students protesting inequities on campuses were often intense. Some of our students called for us to make “immediate and lasting changes that will reduce acts of racism. . . . ” In response, I formed the Commission on Race and Diversity and charged them to address the questions of how we can best create an environment that is safe, supportive, and welcoming for all in our community.
Racism has no place at the University of Rochester. I look forward to continuing to strengthen my commitment to this important work and to studying the recommendations from the Commission’s final report. I am gratified to be associated with a University where a commitment to diversity is consistently reflected in the decisions of our Board and our senior leadership. Working together we can further strengthen a University that is welcoming and supportive of all in our community.
In his inaugural address, President Seligman articulated four fundamental values for the University of Rochester (UR): academic excellence, academic freedom, diversity, and a commitment to the greater Rochester community. Soon thereafter, he appointed a task force to address Faculty Diversity and Inclusiveness and recommend programs that would increase the recruitment and retention of a more diverse faculty. “Faculty members play a pivotal role not only in providing the most rigorous teaching and research, but also as role models for our students” (Seligman, Faculty Diversity and Inclusiveness 2006). Furthermore, when a faculty is diverse, the field of knowledge broadens—and so do the possibilities students of all backgrounds imagine for themselves.
In fall of 2006, the Task Force on Faculty Diversity and Inclusiveness made 31 recommendations that addressed 1) establishing a central infrastructure to support coordinated efforts around hiring and retention; 2) financial resources to support faculty diversity; 3) family-friendly policies to support women faculty in their childbearing years, and 4) ongoing examination of best practices— primarily in support of overall professional development. With the appointment of Lynne Davidson as vice provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, there was rapid progress toward fulfilling these recommendations. A central focus was established for gathering data, disseminating information, and administering the financial and other support available to the schools to hire and retain a more diverse faculty. Working with deans and Faculty Senate, a more robust set of University-wide policies to support faculty with families developed. Moreover, a structure for exchange and dissemination of best practices emerged with the establishment of the Faculty Diversity Officer group. As impressive as these accomplishments were, the impact was disappointing when reviewing the number and proportion of women and underrepresented minority faculty at the University.
To go beyond the numbers, a qualitative approach was used to address the need for a diversity initiative that would improve faculty recruitment and retention. “We have increasingly appreciated that diversity is not only about numbers, but about culture. Our journey together will be one of greater mutual respect and greater mutual understanding,” (Seligman, 2009). The 2009 report “Improving Faculty Recruitment and Retention” (Listening Tour Report) laid out an ambitious blueprint to address diversity and inclusion through professional development, supportive leadership, support for personal needs in the context of the workplace, and changing the organizational culture. The Listening Tour Report marked a pivotal change in approach to increasing diversity from the strictly operational approach that was the focus of the first Task Force on Faculty Diversity and Inclusiveness recommendations to the broader approach on climate and culture.
This year’s annual report examines the progress our institution has made toward achieving the aspiration to become an ever better university by truly reflecting and celebrating diversity and the opportunities it creates. How has faculty recruitment and retention changed over ten years and what is the impact on faculty demographics? How do the schools and disciplines differ in the ways they approach faculty diversity? What changes have occurred in staff diversity? Visible examples of progress include a robust communication structure, ongoing opportunities to promote fledgling programs, and leveraging limited resources. Over the course of ten years, myriad formal programs and grassroots initiatives have exemplified an eagerness to engage in the hard work of making UR a more diverse and welcoming community. What has been the impact of community engagement and student activism? We conclude with a discussion of our evolving culture. What strategies have shown evidence of success, and what are the barriers to further progress? How can we assess/evaluate our progress?
Our 10-year story of diversity and inclusion will highlight many examples that are worthy of celebration—without signaling that our mission is accomplished. We offer these examples in the hope that they will inspire and energize our entire University community to focus on the hard work ahead.