Report: KSU staff is seeing more diversity

By Justin Boyd Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Kent State University has had recent success recruiting a more diverse faculty, particularly women, according to the KSU provost.

During the past two years, 61 percent of the new tenure-track faculty hires have been women and 16.5 percent have been minorities, according to the Fall 1997 Provost's Update.

The numbers of minority and women tenured and tenure-track faculty has been increasing steadily for years, according to figures collected by James Louis, associate provost for faculty affairs.

In 1991, 26.2 percent of Kent campus tenured or tenure-track faculty were women. In 1997, 234 of 635 or 36.9 percent of Kent campus faculty were women, a gain of 10.7 percent.

Although numbers of minority faculty have not increased at the same pace as women, their numbers are also up.

In 1991, 11.1 percent of faculty were minorities, mostly African-Americans and Asians/Pacific Islanders. In 1997, 83 of 635 or 13.1 percent of tenure or tenure-track faculty on the Kent campus were minorities, a gain of 2 percent.

By comparison, minorities make up 9.4 percent of the total 1997 student body at the Kent campus.

Provost Myron Henry attributed KSU's recruiting success to increasing numbers of women and minorities acquiring doctoral degrees. As a result, the field of candidates among which KSU can choose is more diverse.

"We think the diversity of our hiring pools is increasing," Henry said. "I think there are some superbly qualified candidates available who are women and minorities. If there's a lot of diversity in a pool then there's a much higher probability of a woman or a colleague of color being hired."

Growing numbers of qualified women and minorities is a trend, said Ruby Marks, interim director for affirmative action at KSU.

"The number of minorities and women that are getting PhDs is increasing each year," she said. "The progress is slow but it's increasing."

Qualified women candidates are more plentiful because there are many more women than minorities, she said.

Even with increasing overall diversity, demographics in individual departments still vary, Henry said.

"In science, for instance, we do very well in attracting international faculty from Asia and the Pacific," he said. "We do less well with African-Americans in sciences and mathematics."

The push to increase faculty diversity across the country has made it difficult for some departments to hire women or minority colleagues, Marks said.

"They're competing with other institutions who want to attract these people, too," she said. "One department made five offers to five different candidates and had them all turned down."

Many good candidates also go into private industry which pays higher salaries, she noted.

The increasing numbers of women and minorities earning doctorates make it likely that the faculty will continue to become more diverse, Henry said.

"As we fill positions that have been created by faculty taking early retirement, we're being very successful in attracting more diverse candidates," he said.

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