Rex Holland, a professor in the Medical School and the School of Dentistry, spoke about the low rate of minority faculty members on campus, in a meeting before the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs yesterday.
Holland discussed a study by SACUA’s Multicultural Committee, which examined the percentages of minority faculty members using data compiled from 1994 to 2008. Holland said the study found that though the percentage of Asian faculty members has increased since the data was collected, the percentages of black and Hispanic faculty remained unchanged.
There was not enough data on American Indians and Native Alaskans for inclusion in the study, he said.
The study’s charts show that black faculty members made up only 4 percent of the professorial population in 1994, followed by a small peak in 2002 but a subsequent decline. The number of Hispanic faculty was similarly low, with only 2 percent of the faculty identifying as Hispanic in 1994.
According to Holland, percentages for minority representation in individual departments varied widely. Some departments had high percentages while other departments had almost no minority faculty members.
The study also found that while recruitment of minority faculty may have increased, the rate of minority faculty retention has also gone down, Holland said.
Though the study was released in 2008, Holland said he was disappointed that it had not attracted greater notice from the administration and other faculty groups.
Biology Prof. John Lehman, another SACUA member, said he was confused about the numbers in the study because there was no indicated value against which they were measured. He said without a value to compare the numbers against, it was hard to discern the true disparities.
SACUA Chair Ed Rothman said he was concerned that the numbers reflect differences over time without taking into account the history of minority percentages in that field or the candidates available at that time.
Faculty members said it was unclear which departments had made efforts to recruit minority faculty in the past.
In response to the low rate of minority professors revealed by the study, Holland outlined several committee recommendations for boosting the numbers, including having greater interactions between departments, meeting with the provost more frequently and strengthening efforts to recruit and maintain American Indian and Native Alaskan faculty. Holland also said that he thought the most important issues underscored by the study are why minority faculty chose to leave the University and why there were disparities in minority percentages between the units.
Rothman said he would bring a draft of a charge calling on the committee to look at the retention problem at a later meeting.
Coleman discusses $30 million State contribution to ‘U’ renovations, cost saving measures
University President Mary Sue Coleman began the SACUA meeting by referencing recent state legislation, which will provide money for the University to renovate buildings at the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses.
According to the University Record, the legislation that was approved on Friday will give $383 million in state funding for projects across the state, with a limit of $30 million for each project.
Coleman said she is “very, very pleased” about the legislation, adding that the money allocated to the University’s Ann Arbor campus will be used to renovate the nanofabrication facility, called the G.G. Brown Memorial Building.
Speaking about the challenges she’s faced during her term as president, Coleman, whose contract was recently extended by the University’s Board of Regents, said the most formidable obstacle she’s dealt with was managing the University’s budget in the face of an ailing economy.
“This has been a really challenging time for the state of Michigan, because we really have been in a recession for the past 10 years,” Coleman said.
But Coleman said this financial challenge has actually allowed the University to grow stronger, because of the management techniques it has in place. She added that the University is currently on “as firm of a financial footing as (it) has ever been.”
Coleman also said that in her upcoming term, she would like to increase the amount of international alumni donations.
“This is going to be an area that we hope will be fruitful in the future,” Coleman said.