- The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is authorizing a new policy to ensure more diversity on its campus with a new policy that mandates evaluations of staff and professors also consider how the staff member has promoted equity in the college, according to Inside Higher Ed.
- Staff and faculty can distinguish themselves in how they incorporate promoting diversity and equity into their curriculum development, how they support programs and initiatives that serve underrepresented students, and how they support professional development opportunities.
- Supporters say the new policy will encourage and reward professors and other staff who make efforts to learn more about approaches and methods that encourage diversity, and the new means of evaluation should encourage professors who have not made an effort to be more proactive.
While the administration at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is correct in asserting that any lack of diversity must be challenged by faculty, the burden must not rest on them alone. As public higher ed institutions face budget cuts from state funding and private universities face disruptions from online learning and declining enrollment, colleges and universities are pressured to not move forward on potentially expensive initiatives that would help reduce the diversity gap prevalent in colleges and universities. Placing more emphasis on faculty’s role in bridging the gap may be more cost effective to an administration’s bottom line, but it may not lead to the results needed if there is not adequate administration support.
It also places faculty in a difficult position if they are tasked with solving issues that may be more systemic in nature. Colleges and universities have not solved issues with diversity in their own staff, as there are still gaps of minority and female professors in tenure track positions. There has also been a longstanding lack of diversity in college president positions, as well as in the positions that are typically precursors to someone being promoted into the role of president. College administration must be prepared to do their part to stymie inequity if they are going to judge their professors and staff on the work they have done.