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November 7, 2005

Session offers preliminary look at systemwide diversity study

By Louise Donahue

UCSC generally does better than the UC system overall in hiring a diverse faculty, but there is plenty of room for improvement.

UC President Robert C. Dynes and Lisa Sloan, vice provost and dean of Graduate Studies, provided an update Friday on the UC President's Task Force on Diversity.
Photo: Jim MacKenzie

That was one of the conclusions Friday at an update on the UC President’s Task Force of Faculty Diversity presented by UC President Robert C. Dynes and Lisa Sloan, vice provost and dean of Graduate Studies.

The update was one of three sessions focusing on a different aspect of diversity as part of the Achieving Excellence through Diversity symposium November 3-4.

The task force is in the midst of a comprehensive review of faculty diversity efforts at each UC campus. The study will include site visits to each UC campus, with UCSC to be visited on November 14-15. A preliminary report is scheduled for release in January, to be followed by a systemwide summit.

On Friday, Sloan offered what she called “a flavor of the data right now.” In offering a breakdown of the 130 ladder-rank faculty members hired at UCSC since 1994-95, Sloan cautioned that the small numbers involved meant that even one hire sometimes caused noticeable fluctuations. 

“UCSC hired a higher percentage of women faculty relative to UC as a whole,” said Sloan, adding that in most years the campus also hired a greater percentage of African American as well as Latino faculty than the UC systemwide. The situation for hiring of Asian faculty was less clear, she said.

Sloan included a look at the hiring pool itself, since that is a key starting point in diversity efforts. In the life sciences, where women and underrepresented minorities are often scarce, “we hired double what the represented pool looked like,” Sloan said. In education, hiring also exceeded the proportion of women and underrepresented minorities in the pool. Physical sciences hiring was at about the same level as the pool. In the humanities and social sciences, which the data group together, UCSC hired at greater levels than the pool for underrepresented minorities and minorities, but hired women at lower levels than in the hiring pool and UC-wide.

Sloan also compared faculty leadership in 2000-01 to 2004-05 with that in July of 2005. Faculty leadership was defined as the executive vice chancellor, vice provost of academic affairs, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, the five academic deans, the graduate dean, and the Academic Senate chair and vice chair.

In the earlier years, white males held 69 percent of leadership positions, white women held 22 percent, and male minorities, 9 percent.

By July of 2005, however, white males and white females each held 43 percent of the leadership positions, with minority males at 14 percent.

The “minority” category includes women, underrepresented minorities, and Asians, Sloan said.

During the question-and-answer period following the presentation, Pedro Castillo, associate professor of history, said the data would be more helpful if it indicated the numbers of African American faculty and Chicano-Latino faculty hired. “That would give us a different take on this,” he said. (To view the PowerPoint presentation with this information added, go to

Castillo noted the demographics of the state and that the University of California is a state institution. “As a goal, the faculty should reflect the community out there.”

Offering no argument, Dynes said, “I need some ideas as far as how to get there.”

UC Riverside Chancellor Frances Cordova emphasized the importance of “growing our own”—finding ways to support and encourage struggling students--a concept noted at other symposium events. “This is something we really need to work with,” she said, adding that it is a factor in low graduation rates, among other problems.

Echoing that approach, lecturer Roz Spafford said efforts to help students having difficulty with English have been underfunded, but are vital to increasing diversity.

Assistant theater arts professor Alma Martinez observed that once some women or minorities are hired, more are likely to be drawn to campus. “What works is when there are people of color, it draws more people of color.”

Manuel Pastor, professor of Latin American and Latino studies, proposed a “target of opportunity” hiring program that would allow the campus to pursue up-and-coming academics from diverse backgrounds even if there is not a specific faculty vacancy.

Dynes said California’s Proposition 209, which bars use of race or gender preferences in hiring and admissions, was the “elephant in the room.”

In light of that, Dynes suggested that campuses take a broader approach to hiring, rather than keeping within narrow disciplines. In a very narrow search, “you’ll end up with the faculty recruiting playmates,” he said. Expanding the scope of hiring is more likely to result in diversity, Dynes said.

Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor David Kliger said the faculty needs to hear “why it is in their interest” to increase diversity.

Reflecting on his own interest in diversity, Dynes told the gathering about a small, but very successful, mentoring program for minorities he took part in during the 1970s when he was at Bell Labs, before joining the University of California. “Here it is 2005, an we’re still struggling with the same issue.”

As chancellor of UC San Diego, Dynes made himself the chief diversity officer. “I had a group of people who had my sword,” to go after the problem. “When they were sandbagged, which they were, I’d open the door for them.”

While some people think they have a "silver bullet" to achieve diversity, Dynes said it is a multifaceted problem. “The issues run from pre-K to faculty,” he said, citing the comprehensive review admissions program and UC efforts to increase the number of science and math teachers as steps in the right direction.


Related links:

Watch video of symposium, investiture

Campus community invited to join discussions on diversity


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