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UR boosts faculty diversity, report shows

Rochester Business Journal
May 16, 2012

A greater number of women and underrepresented minorities were hired on the faculty at the University of Rochester during the 2010-2011 academic year, making incremental progress toward the university’s goals of creating more diversity in the faculty and throughout curricula.

In the academic year ending July 1, 2011, the university hired 96 new faculty members with 38.5 percent women and 4.2 percent from underrepresented minority groups, an annual report on diversity released Wednesday showed. During this period the university also lost 76 faculty members, with 32.9 percent being women and 9.2 percent underrepresented minorities, the report showed.

Beginning 2006, when the university’s diversity initiatives began, the percentage of women faculty has increased to 32.2 percent from 28.6 percent. Faculty from underrepresented racial or ethnic minority groups increased to 3.5 percent from 2.6 percent in 2006. During this period the university also saw progress in diversity among higher pay grades, with the number of underrepresented minorities in this group growing to 290 from 181.

The report acknowledges that the rate of growth among underrepresented faculty has been slow in the past six years, but noted that overall hiring is down due to the lingering effects of the recession.

Progress has come in other areas, UR officials noted. Enrollment from underrepresented minorities grew, rising to 8.6 percent in fall 2011 from 7.6 percent in 2006. The university now sponsors an annual conference to discuss promoting diversity on campus, which also includes an award ceremony.

“In the last six years we have learned a great deal,” wrote Joel Seligman, UR president, in the report. “Numeric progress has been slow, but the numbers are just a starting point. We’ve made great progress in creating conversations that will help create as welcoming and inclusive and diverse campus as possible. The evolution of our annual conference is a clear example of that progress.”

The university’s capital campaign, the Meliora Challenge, has a diversity focus as well. As part of a plan to build the national profile of the university, administrators have several programs to increase diversity in the faculty, staff and student body.
The campaign aims to establish scholarships and fellowships that will bring in a diverse group of high-performing students. It also has a goal of making the campus more inclusive through supplemental educational activities like visiting artists, lecturers and scholars.

Diversity will become an important part of curricula for the Simon Graduate School of Business, Warner School of Education and Eastman School of Music, the report stated. Starting this month diversity and inclusion committees for the Warner School will analyze course syllabi from across the school to “create a portrait of how and where diversity and inclusion are addressed in programs and courses.”

The Eastman School will offer a course called “Musicians in an Era of Global Diversity” for next fall, focusing on diversity and inclusion issues that musicians have faced in personal and business lives. The Simon School plans to bring senior managers from diverse groups to teach short courses to graduate students.

Educational efforts stretch beyond the campus, the report stated. The Rochester Museum & Science Center and the Rochester Initiative for Structural Equality Coalition are putting on an exhibition called “RACE: Are We So Different?” in early 2013. Working with UR and several other partners, the RMSC and RISEC plan to create programs and events along with course material for local schools based on the exhibit.

Taking an approach that stretches beyond faculty and students, UR officials see success in their efforts to increase diversity.

“Through partnerships across the entire university, and with the continued support of President Seligman and the board of trustees, real progress has been made at the university and in the greater community,” wrote Vivian Lewis, vice provost for faculty development and diversity at UR. “The breadth of our work continues to expand: we build the infrastructure needed for change, we increase the visibility of diversity, we improve collaborations and communication and we raise consciousness through programming.”

(c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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