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  November 25, 2002

Taylor Announces Plans To Boost Faculty Diversity
By Karen A. Grava

More than 800 faculty members will retire from the University during the next 10 years, and hiring their replacements will allow the University to diversify without incurring additional costs, according to Ronald Taylor, vice provost for multicultural affairs.

In a presentation to the Board of Trustees on Nov. 13, Taylor said that the University hopes to increase the number of female faculty by 25 percent, or 65 people, within the next five years. Other increases should include 10 African American faculty, or a 30 percent increase; nine Hispanic/Latino faculty, a 25 percent increase; and four Native American faculty, a 100 percent increase. In addition, the University hopes to increase Asian American faculty by 10 people, or 10 percent.

"We have done well but not well enough. Our challenge is to do better in the future," Taylor said. He said the faculty is 16 percent minority, better than the Universities of Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee and Massachusetts, Penn State, and Rutgers. Nevertheless, he said, the University must work to create a welcoming campus environment, must recruit and retain a diverse workforce, and work to diversify the University's leadership and management.

Taylor said aggressive search criteria and recruitment tactics are important, as well as broadening the search net and establishing personal recruiting relationships. He said better relationship-building with peer institutions will be important to help the University attract new faculty.

The University must also be sure that minority faculty who are recruited find a welcoming environment, Taylor said. He said his office has begun what is to become an ongoing climate assessment: "We want to be sure that we are doing everything we can to make this a hospitable place for people of color as for all members of the community."

He noted that the University has hired a diversity educator and that programs will begin early next year, so that every faculty and staff member will receive diversity training.

On the student side, minority enrollment has climbed from 7.9 percent in 1986 to 16.7 percent this year, he said. UConn's performance is on par with UMass, and ahead of Penn State and the Universities of Missouri and Tennessee. But the University of Virginia has more than 20 percent minority enrollment, and Rutgers has nearly 35 percent.

"We have a strong need for African American and Latino students," Taylor said.

Studies done by his office show that most UConn students - both students who are white and students of color - have limited experiences with ethnic and racial diversity and inter-group relations. Most students come from segregated neighborhoods and school groups.

"We must improve our campus diversity so that we can educate all students to live and work in a diverse world," Taylor said. He noted that increased emphasis on diversity in first year experience courses and an increase in the quality and quantity of diversity courses is helping.

Students will be required to take two diversity courses beginning in fall 2004, and many are already enrolled in diversity courses, he said, adding, "The institutional focus on diversity is an educational benefit for all students."