California public college student populations are becoming more diverse, but faculty makeup has not kept pace with this trend, according to a report by the Campaign for College Opportunity.
The Left Out report, released Tuesday, found that racial disparities are the highest within the University of California system, where 72 percent of faculty and senior leadership positions were filled by white employees in the 2016-17 school year. The Campaign for College Opportunity is a nonprofit aiming to improve access to higher education.
Audrey Dow, senior vice president of the campaign, pointed toward outdated hiring practices as a driver of representation gaps.
“Part of the reason why we have such a vast disparity in racial and gender representation … is because we continue to utilize an outdated system of hiring and an outdated definition of what it means to be qualified,” Dow said. “The faculty in our institutions look like California from a decade ago.”
The percentage of white faculty and leadership within the UC system is 10 percent higher than at California community colleges and 8 percent higher than the California State University system.
The diversity problem among UC campuses is a systemic one, according to Jessica Wise, director of the Northern California Higher Education Recruitment Consortium.
“There’s a whole package we have to look at, like the K-12 system, job preparation … the recruitment process and how (hires are) succeeding once they get to campus,” Wise said. “That’s what’s so timely and relevant about this report.”
According to UC Office of the President spokesperson Claire Doan, the UC system has already undertaken several initiatives to increase faculty diversity across its 10 campuses, including a $2 million funding package for outreach and recruitment. The funds were awarded to UC Davis, UC Riverside and UC San Diego, Doan said in an email.
She added that UC campuses have broadened their hiring practices in recent years to increase diversity within the faculty.
“New faculty hires over the past five years are more diverse — in terms of both race and gender — than the current overall faculty population,” Doan said in an email.
Along with the systemwide push for faculty diversity, Wise said some campus departments have started to include diversity statements in their hiring packages.
Dow said, however, that statements on community values had not translated into concrete action to improve equity and inclusion at California colleges, leading to the disparity between the racial breakdown of the student population and faculty.
Despite the statistics, Dow added that faculty diversity could potentially match the student makeup in a matter of years, as opposed to decades.
“There’s no reason this should take 10 years or 20 years,” Dow said. “These are things that can happen immediately.”