There is really no question about what the most controversial and hard-hitting issue on the UW-Madison campus is today. From protests to funding requests, minority and majority students alike have expressed interest in increasing diversity on campus. The Badger Herald will outline the seven stated goals of Plan 2008, the system-wide initiative to increase diversity at UW schools across the state by the year 2008.
Plan 2008 proponents have made it more than clear that a more diverse UW-Madison campus in necessary.
While most of their goals, seven in all, are directed toward increasing recruitment and retention of minority students and decreasing racial tensions, proponents have designated goal five as the diversification of faculty and administration.
According to John Adams, a member of Generation 2008, a student organization aiming to make sure Plan 2008’s goals are met, the recruitment and retention of minority staff members is a lesser-known but equally important goal.
“[It] is important on multiple levels,” Adams said. “Having professors of color would challenge some stereotypes and preconceptions students have.”
The presence of professors and administrators of color would encourage and inspire minority students on campus, according to Adams.
“It would help for minority students to see professors of color on campus,” he said. “This shows that professionals of color are out there.”
Deborah Brandt, co-chair of the Plan 2008 Oversight Committee, said UW still has to make strides in not only hiring minority staff, but also in retaining them.
“The number of minority faculty and staff has pretty much stayed the same,” Brandt said. “How well we are keeping them? Or are we just replacing them?”
UW’s 2000-01 Data Digest, released by the Office of Budget Planning and Analysis, reports that 264 of the 2,175 members of the UW faculty are minorities — 147 Asian-Americans, 59 Hispanic-Americans, 52 African-Americans and six Native Americans.
Linda Greene, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, called increasing the number of minority faculty at UW a “strategic priority.”
“Our goal is excellence,” Greene said. “We must compete with the best institutions in the country for the best faculty, including outstanding minority faculty. In order to achieve that goal we must aggressively recruit the best faculty.”
Greene said UW has a number of programs aimed at accomplishing this goal. These include the Academic Leadership Series, which sponsors workshops for deans and department chairs about issues of recruitment and hiring of faculty, and the Strategic Hiring Initiative, which provides partial funding for the hiring of minority faculty.
“We have tried some innovative programs, but we have not done enough,” Greene said. “Plan 2008 charges us to do more. Faculty diversity is a priority. We expect that our 2008 faculty profile will reflect that commitment.”
Greene also said some individual colleges, such as the law school and the school of human ecology, have taken steps to ensure a more diverse staff.
“Theater and drama is another department that has done a great job,” Greene said. “What they’re doing is focusing on certain curriculum which have the potential to attract a broad array of faculty.”
Patricia Kim, another member of Generation 2008, said students have some say over what sort of faculty work at UW.
“Students should get involved in the hiring of faculty, especially in the interviewing process,” Kim said. “Diversity is linked to quality of education.”