Annual faculty and diversity report reveals lack of representation among faculty compared to student body


Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus.

The annual report on faculty and diversity revealed a lack of representation among faculty compared to DePaul’s student body at February’s Faculty Council meeting. 

Cindy Pickett, DePaul’s associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), presented the annual report, which showcases race and gender indicators for the year.

Pickett said DePaul was on par with comparative universities when it came to DEI rankings, but the main concerns — aside from lack of representation in faculty — were those who were not providing demographics and reasons why faculty were leaving the university. 

“The numbers have been getting bigger and I’m worried about it,” said economics professor John Berdell regarding the amount of professors who don’t provide their demographics. 

According to Pickett’s presentation, the most unknown racial demographic is with part-time faculty at 17 percent. 

“Our part-time faculty is less diverse than our full-time faculty,” Pickett said. 

Three percent of students had unknown demographics. Pickett also indicated that the student body is more diverse in some racial groups compared to full-time faculty. Latino students and full-time faculty showed the largest disparity — 18 percent of DePaul students are Latino, while only six percent of full-time faculty are. Asian and Black student representation also exceeded that of full-time faculty. 

However, DePaul’s international faculty sits at nine percent, higher than peer institutions and the national average. 

Pickett also presented what percentage of full-time faculty departed the university based on their race and ethnic indicators between 2016 and 2020. 

10 percent of full-time faculty, who left during this timeframe, had unknown demographics upon their departure. Pickett outlined the reasons for faculty departures which included normal or early retirement, death, resignation, non-renewal and terminal year non-renewal. 

Valerie Johnson, an associate professor of Political Science and at the Grace School of Applied Diplomacy, addressed the issue of the number of Black faculty departing, compared to Black representation in the current full-time faculty. The number of Black full-time faculty departing was 10 percent, whereas the current number teaching is six percent.

“That number should concern us,” she said.

The current number of full-time faculty stands at 874, with 465 male (54 percent) and 409 female (46 percent). Pickett also showed a graphic of how the gender gap of full-time faculty has decreased over the years. 

However, the gap becomes more prominent with the breakdowns of each college. 

The College of Computing and Digital Media has significantly more men working full-time in the college, with 92 compared to 36 women. However, the colleges with more female full-time faculty are The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the Theatre School, the College of Science and Health, the College of Education and the College of Communication.

For most of the colleges, however, there weren’t significant gaps in gender for full-time faculty. Gender was only considered under the identifications of male and female.

Based on these observations, Pickett said the main recommendations were to examine why assistant and part-time professors are not reporting demographics and to see why this dynamic has increased over time. 

Pickett added the university should continue initiatives to recruit diverse faculty over time with the goal of having them reflect the students they serve. 

Pickett added the university should evaluate the process of hiring part-time faculty and guidelines for searching for diverse faculty, and enhancing the exit interview process to gain better data on why faculty separate from DePaul. 

Following this presentation was the introduction of the newly formed Hispanic Serving Institution Task Force by Liz Ortiz, the vice president for Institutional Diversity and Equity at DePaul. She explained that the task force is looking to apply for Title V funds, which needs the total Latino/Hispanic student body to be at 25 percent of DePaul’s overall student population.

“We’re very close to that threshold,” Ortiz said. 

Johnson questioned whether this would come at the expense of Black and Asian students, specifically addressing black graduation rates. 

“Black graduation rates are frighteningly low,” Johnson said. 

Associate Professor of Sociology Jose Soltero said that the issue isn’t a “zero-sum game,” and that a task force should be formed to help Black enrollment. 

After these discussions, DePaul’s new athletic director DeWayne Peevy introduced himself to the Faculty Council with a discussion. 

“I want to be a part of your team,” Peevy said.

Peevy explained that he not only wants to see the athletic programs succeed, but also aims to work with faculty to ensure that student-athletes are succeeding academically. He asked the faculty if permissible, if he could occasionally visit classes to show the students that he cares about their academic reputation, as well as their athletic performance. He also discussed how a notable sports reputation brings students to DePaul.

“We’re talking about dreaming big here,” Peevy said. 

Peevy also brought up how he will be focusing on the athletic budget. He said he wants to be budget-neutral during the pandemic, but will fundraise for things that are needed. Because men’s basketball vs. Xavier and women’s soccer vs. Illinois State were cancelled Wednesday, Peevy turned his attention to fundraising for the Blue Demon Challenge.

Council members asked questions recruiting players from Chicago on all teams and also about diverse profiling on the soccer team.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to get on the forefront of the community,” Peevy said. 

There was also discussion of resolutions for faculty support from the pandemic. 

Faculty Council Vice President Sonia Soltero and members from the faculty council’s Retreat Committee drafted resolutions entailing financial and Vincentian support for the faculty during this time. 

According to the meeting materials, financial support would include the Office of Academic Affairs preparing a stipend of up to $500 for covering utilities, office supplies and equipment to any faculty or staff member who applies for funds. 

The Faculty Council also requires Vincentian support from Academic Affairs by showing how their teaching evaluations for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 will be used in promotion and tenure cases and performance review for all faculty. 

The meeting materials also highlighted that the provost will give tenure-track faculty hired during the pandemic the same option to extend the probationary period offered in spring 2020. The provost will also direct deans of schools and colleges to give clear and explicit modifications to research output standards to determine whether they are used to determine faculty workload and raises. 

These resolutions were passed by the council along with others regarding conducting more detailed analysis in budgetary and financial issues, enrollment caps for online classes and a resolution to improve communication with administrative units. 

The faculty council also made degree revisions and passed new degrees in education and a new minor in applied diplomacy. They also addressed policies for treating minor students and updates around the Title IX policy, affirmative action and a faculty status report.

The council staffed the Provost Review Committee. Council members on the committee include Suzanne Fogel, Michael Lewanski, Suling Li, Jose Soltero and Faculty Council President Scott Paeth.