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September 07, 1989 - Image 63

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-09-07

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 7, 1989- Page 3

Minority

faculty:

'U

promises

kept?

Recruitment up, retention down

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by Leslie Perera
Daily Staff Writer
The rejection of a highly qualified
Black woman candidate for an open
tenured position, the class boycott
by law students, and the seeming
exodus of several Black faculty
members all have one thing in
common - they have raised serious
questions about the University's
stated commitment to the active re-
cruitment and retention of minority
faculty members.
Doubts about the University's
commitment to increasing and main-
taining the number of minority fac-
ulty members could be a potentially
explosive issue on a campus which
has very low tolerance for situations
that have even the slightest hint of
racial inequality.
"I don't believe the University is
yet committed to doing anything
significant," said Albert Wheeler, re-
tired microbiology professor and the
University's first full-time Black
faculty member.
The University spelled out their
commitment to minority faculty as
one piece of a plan for greater diver-
sity which was unveiled by President
Duderstadt in the fall of 1988.
Dubbed the Michigan Mandate, its
fundamental premise is that
"diversity is a necessary condition
for the achievement of excellence in

an increasingly pluralistic world."
One of the Mandate's strategic
objectives is "the recruitment and
development of minority faculty."
The entire Mandate and its objectives
were "intentionally general" to ease
the problem of implementation and
assessment, said Sue Rasmussen; an
Affirmative Action Compliance
Officer.
The University depicted the
Michigan Mandate as a response to
the changing demographic make-up
of the United States. Duderstadt cited
the statistics that by the year 2000,
"one of three Americans will be a
person of color and 47 percent of
school age children will be Black or
Hispanic." However, many people
find the Administration's new zeal in
this area to be a direct result of the
outspoken tactics of such groups as
the United Coalition Against
Racism (UCAR).
Whatever the precipitating cause
for the new policy, several recent in-
cidents have prompted many people
to question whether the Michigan
Mandate has any power behind it or
is just simply a paper tiger.
The first incident occurred in
January when a Black woman was
rejected as a candidate to fill an open
tenured faculty position in the
Sociology Department, despite the
unanimous recommendation she re-
1988

ceived from two search committees.
An 18-month search ended with the
decision that the candidate, a tenured
professor at the University of
Wisconsin, was the best qualified for
the open joint position in Women's
Studies and Sociology.
Presently only 17.1 percent of
the tenured faculty are women and
only 3.4 percent of the tenured fac-
ulty are Black. Psychology
Professor Abby Stewart, the director
of the Women's Studies program,
said this incident questions the credi-
bility of the Michigan Mandate and
also "reflects the unquestioning ap-
plication of very narrow and tradi-
tional criteria for the evaluation of
academic scholarship."
English Professor Alan Wald of
Concerned Faculty, a group of educa-
tors that seeks to fight racism and
encourage diversity, agrees. "Their
model of a qualified professor is a
Ph. D. from Yale or Harvard," Wald
said, "and this is wrong."
Another incident in April saw
university law school students join
students from more than 40 other
schools nationwide in a strike to
demand greater diversity among law
school faculty. At present the Law
School has about 37 tenured white
male professors with no Black male
professors holding tenure. There are
only four women with tenure, one of

Students protest the
chair position of the

University's failure to hire a Black woman professor from the University of Wisconsin for the
Sociology department, despite the fact that two committees recommended her.

i

1987

1300-
1100-
900
700

ten urrd accd
tenurre track
facvulty y
race and tsex

Native American
Hispanic
NIN Black
Asian
Female

Mazrui

TOTAL

In 1987, for
example, the
University
had 688
Assistant _
Professors.
Of these, 200
were female,
and 79 were
ethnic
minorities.
The rest, it
can be _
assumed,
were white
males.

whom is Black.
Laura Anderson, a third-year law
student was quoted earlier as saying,
"The faculty needs to redefine what a
person qualified to be a law professor
is. One way they can do this is by
hiring those whose scholarship is
outside the mainstream."
While both of these incidents
seem to suggest a deficiency on the
part of the University in recruiting
qualified minority professors, many
people believe a more urgent prob-
lem is the retention of qualified mi-
nority professors already employed at
the University.
Cathy Cohen and Kimberly
Smith, both members of UCAR,
have characterized the University as
having a "revolving door" policy.
"They bring them [minority faculty]
to the University for a few years and
their minority faculty recruitment
statistics are inflated. But they are
not offered tenure and must then
leave," Cohen explained.
It seems impossible for anyone
who follows university affairs not to
have noticed the mass exodus of
Black faculty members over the past
few years.
Those gone include: two former
African studies directors, Niara
Sudarkasa and Thomas Holt, who are
now at Lincoln University and the
University of Chicago, respectively;
sociologist Aldon Morris has gone
to Northwestern University; psy-
chologist Phillip Bowman moved to
the University of Illinois; anthro-
pologist Christopher Davis now
teaches at the London School of
Economics; Richard English is now
at Howard University; and African
Hispanic scholar Ali Mazrui has accepted a
Black position at the State University of

New' York at Binghampton.
Sociology professor Walter Allen
has been offered a job at UCLA and
is expected to accept it.
However, many people believe
that these incidents have been over
publicized and are the exception, not
the rule. The rule, they say, is that
the University has implemented a
wide range of programs and practices
to remedy the small number of mi-
nority faculty members and has a
fairly successful recent history with
regard to the recruitment and reten-
tion of minorities.
The Affirmative Action Office
has traditionally been the vanguard
of many minority faculty recruit-
ment efforts through several prac-
tices. The Office encourages depart-
ments to engage in as broad a re-
cruitment effort as possible and the
AAO keeps files and offers leads to
the departments when needed. The
AAO also requires that each depart-
ment post the job openly for 60 days
through national advertising.
Several programs have been im-
plemented or pursued more vigor-
ously as a result of the Michigan
Mandate. The Martin Luther King
Jr./Cesar Chavez/Rosa Parks
Visiting Professorships is one
means that the University has been
trying to increase exposure of all
students to minority faculty.
This program has been criticized,
however, as bringing the faculty to
the University on a short-term basis
only. The University maintains that
this enables "a number of institu-
tions to share the scarce resource of
Black faculty."
Wald said that the visiting pro-
fessorships are nothing more than an
"ephemeral moment." He believes
that the university's claim that there
is a shortage of qualified minority
professors is "their biggest fraud"
and "complete fabrication." Wald
bases his claim on the idea that the
Universities criteria for what makes
a candidate qualified is too narrow.
Smith added that, "They (the ad-
ministrators) need to redefine the
academic standards by which they are
judging these people."
However, Sue Rasmussen of the
Affirmative Action Office upholds
the Administration's position that
there is a shortage of qualified mi-
nority faculty. "When you look at
the numbers of Blacks with Ph.D.s
in certain areas there is a definite
shortage. And at Michigan they
rarely hire without a Ph.D. In educa-
tion there is an abundance of quali-
fied Blacks but for other areas we are
asked to spread a pool of about two
percent across departments ranging
from anthropology to zoology."
Rasmussen cited another
University program which she de-
scribed as "extremely successful."
The Targets of Opportunity Program
(TOP) encourages individual depart-
ments to go out and bring back not
only senior-level minorities and fe-

I

Lal

males but also academic "stars," and
other outstanding candidates with an
area of expertise. They must then
present their credentials to the
Provost office and if they are ap-
proved they are funded and "brought
onboard."
"We acquired 19 new faculty
through this program last year,"
Rasmussen said. "And the sense I
have from the paperwork, is that this
year will also be quite good."
"Their (the adminis-
tration's) model of a
qualified professor is a
Ph. D. from Yale or
Harvard, and this is
wrong."
-Prof. Alan Wald
Although most people do not
dispute the statistics that reveal an
increased number of minority faculty
recruited, the retention of minority
faculty members is a different part of
the equation.
Albert Wheeler, does not believe
that the University atmosphere is
conducive to retaining Black faculty
members.
"There is nothing to keep them
[Black faculty] here," Wheeler
said."Now we may be losing
(Sociology Professor) Walter Allen
to UCLA and he is a very promising
young man."

President Duderstadt said 1988
was the best minority faculty recruit-
ing year in history. But outstanding
recruitment efforts without a compa-
rable retention plan is like trying to
collect water in a pail with a hole.
Whether the University can make
good on its commitment to both re-
cruitment and retention, in a manner
satisfactory to all, is a challenge for
the coming years. U
PASS
IT
DAROUNDI__.

SOPH SHOW,
MUSKET,
JOIN THE
CAST

500 -

The School of Education
Invites University faculty, students,
and staff
to a
Fall Convocation
Professor William M. Cave
Howard Y. McClusky Collegiate Professor
will discuss

* 300--

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UniverL0 y
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* Swimming
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