On a campus that promotes diversity, DePaul’s faculty demographics say different

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On a campus that promotes diversity, DePaul’s faculty demographics say different

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus

Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus

Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus

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A report released Wednesday indicates a staggering lack of diversity among full-time faculty at DePaul, despite the university maintaining that it offers students a campus with diversity at all levels.

DePaul uses diversity of students, staff and faculty as a recruiting tool to attract prospective students, using its location in Chicago as a way of supporting the claim – yet neither the faculty nor student body reflect the demographics of the city.

According to the Census Bureau, Chicago’s population is 30 percent black and 29 percent Hispanic compared to DePaul’s student body which the university reports is 9.2 percent black and 15.8 percent Hispanic. Of the 870 full-time faculty, black and Hispanic professors only comprise about 6 percent each of the total faculty, according to the Institutional Research and Market Analytics (IRMA) Faculty Database.

“Diversity is a core value at DePaul and has been since our founding … At DePaul we understand that a diverse workforce and educational environment is directly related to our success,” states the mission statement for the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity.

The actual data on full-time faculty trends over the past decade indicates a failure to achieve that reality. The combined share of all full-time faculty at DePaul comprised of African American, Hispanic and Asian faculty members has remained unchanged, according to the report.

The report also looked at students and faculty of the same race finding that on average for each white full-time faculty, there are 21 white students, 36 black students per one black faculty, 37 for Asian faculty and a shocking 57 students for every one Hispanic faculty member. According to the report, “an upward trend of students of color per faculty of color ratio makes it increasingly more difficult to attain racial equity.”

It concludes that “we are compelled by the evidence to engage collectively in our commitment to diversify our faculty.”

“We have to be humble,” said Ruben Parra, chemistry professor and the Interim Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, who prepared this report and its findings. “It takes a village to fix these problems.”

The report acknowledges that “we are far from realizing our mission-driven commitment” outlined in President Gabriel A. Esteban’s 2024 strategic plan for the university promoting a dedication “to recruiting and retaining faculty and staff to reflect the rich, vibrant diversity of our student body.”

“I always think there should be equal representation at DePaul because all students should be able to see themselves in someone,” said Joanna Ewida, a junior studying sociology.

It also indicates that DePaul does have some practices in place to address campus diversity like using mandatory diversity training to inform recruiting efforts. There are also incentives to attract new hires like the Faculty Recruitment Incentive Program (FRIP), launched during fall quarter, that provides selected tenure-track hires with $10,000 per year for three years to support research and professional development. The first of two of these awards has already been granted to a new hire in the College of Communication, according to the report.

The data also revealed that when diverse faculty are hired as associate professors, they aren’t regularly promoted. In 2019, 70 percent of associate professors with tenure stayed at that level for 11 or more years. This is the case for 72 percent of white faculty compared to 85 percent of African American and Asian faculty and 100 percent of Hispanic professors.

When these findings were brought up during the faculty council meeting, some in the room pointed to what they believed were institutional barriers to career advancement including a lack of transparency and clarity regarding criteria for promotion.

Several faculty members also talked about the cultural taxation that comes with being one of very few diverse professors at an institution. This includes being asked to sit on diversity committees, increased advising demands or being expected to represent their entire race.

“All of these things make it that much harder to get promoted,” a faculty member from LAS noted. This places undue burden on minority professors and limits the time they can spend on the things that would eventually contribute to achieving tenure, they said.

Before the presentation of these findings, the faculty council unanimously passed a motion to increase diversity among associate deans that was introduced at last month’s meeting by Valerie Johnson, associate professor and chair of the political science department. The motion is meant to encourage the recruiting and hiring of more diverse candidates for associate dean positions when they become available. With the hiring in the hands of the Dean themselves, the motion proposes diversity training for all deans university-wide.

Associate Deans also often deal directly with students which Johnson says makes diversity in at this level of the university even more important.

“They should have some understanding of issues affecting those populations,” Johnson said.

Faculty Council President Scott Paeth brought up a past request from students to the faculty council that called for mandatory diversity training for all university faculty. Interim Provost Salma Ghanem acknowledged the proposal was hard to pass because the provost can’t require faculty to take any training, meaning administration action would be needed.

Last year’s IRMA Faculty Climate Survey found that the belief that DePaul has a long-standing commitment to diversity had among the top ten largest decreases in ratings from faculty respondents. Additionally, ratings decreased regarding the perception that the university values the diversity of its employees, actively recruits and hires employees of diverse backgrounds and supports a culture of diversity for employees.

In November, the faculty council approved the formation of a committee specifically tasked with addressing diversity, equity and inclusion at DePaul. A task force of faculty members are scheduled to present the committee’s official goals and membership at the faculty council meeting next month.

In yet another attempt to assure equity at DePaul, faculty council discussed a proposed Equity Study that would be used to determine possible pay disparities among faculty. Summing all of these conversations up, Ghanem defined the goal of the study as answering one of the most pressing questions on campus today: “Do we have a systemic problem at DePaul?”