DePaul faculty-led committee to address diversity concerns


Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus.

DePaul Faculty Council unanimously approved the formation of a new faculty committee at its meeting Nov. 6 which will discuss and respond to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in the university.

The motion was co-sponsored by Sonia Soltero, professor and chair of the department of leadership, language and curriculum, and Quinetta Shelby, associate professor and chair of the department of chemistry and biochemistry.

“The committee is intended to be a source for transformative change through leadership at the faculty level,” Shelby said.

Currently, faculty can serve as college diversity advocates, aimed to provide support for women and diverse faculty within specific colleges. These positions serve as a liaison between deans and faculty. Faculty can also serve on DePaul President A. Gabriel Esteban’s diversity advisory committee (PDAC) as Esteban’s advisers regarding diversity issues.

These positions, however, are not chosen by faculty. Diversity advocates are chosen by deans and members of PDAC are appointed by the president.

“Enhanced diversity is a goal of DePaul’s current strategic plan, as it has been in previous plans,” Shelby said. “Unfortunately, institutional inertia persists. A new movement must occur to take us in a different direction.”

Unlike current university diversity initiatives, the approved diversity committee will be faculty-led and selected, promoting accountability to peers rather than superiors. Faculty will also set the agenda and action plans of the committee, rather than administration.

“The selection process for membership on the new committee on diversity will be handled only by faculty,” Shelby said.

The creation of the committee stemmed from a Faculty Council retreat in 2018 focused on diversity, Shelby said. There, the council generated a resolution to respond to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion as they relate specifically to faculty concerns.

As previously reported by The DePaulia, faculty ratings of diversity in climate surveys declined 12.04 percent from 2009 to 2019, compared to the staff decline of 8.51 percent.

Faculty Council is now recruiting a task force selected from across the university which will work to define the goals and membership of the new diversity committee.

The task force will consist of six full-time faculty chosen based on self-nominations.

They will work for three months — a formal resolution establishing the committee will be presented at the March 2020 Faculty Council meeting.

The deadline to apply is 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 18.