Friday, November 16, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 62


 
 









 

UH professors not so diverse

By Ken Fountain
Daily Cougar Staff

While UH has one of the most ethnically diverse student populations of any urban research university, it has a lot of ground to gain in terms of
hiring minority faculty members and staff.

That's according to the latest hiring figures, which Provost Edward Sheridan revealed during Thursday's meeting of the UH System Board of
Regents. While UH falls far short of its peer universities in the Northeast and Midwest, it is making progress, as the numbers show.

"As we (the UH administration) have looked at the tremendous diversity among the students, we've begun to ask ourselves, 'What about the
faculty?'" Sheridan said to the board members and others gathered in the Melcher Board Room of the Athletics/Alumni Center.

When he began gathering hiring data to make comparisons with other schools around the nation, he said, he found it was more difficult than
initially anticipated because of differences in the way the data is compiled. The latest national data is from 1997, he said, but he used that as a
base to compare the 2000 data for UH.

According to the figures, the ethnic groupings of the 850 tenured and tenure-track faculty members break down as follows: Asian-Americans at
6.1 percent; blacks at 2.8 percent; Hispanics at 3.5 percent; international at 7.2 percent; Native American at 0.2 percent; and whites at 80.1
percent.

By comparison, there is no majority ethnic group among the UH student body: whites make up only 42 to 44 percent.

Sheridan said that among other research universities in Texas (the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M and Texas Tech), UH compares
favorably or exceeds the other schools in the categories of Asians, blacks and international faculty members, but falls behind in terms of
Hispanics.

But, he said, if UH were allowed to count non-U.S. citizens of Hispanic heritage in the Hispanic category and not as international, there would be
a significant improvement.

In terms of international faculty members (including Hispanics), in fact, UH has nearly double the number of all three other Texas schools.

"The data are so striking in comparison to the other three universities, we have some question as to whether the other universities made this
transition in their data," Sheridan said.

In the past year, he said, UH has hired an additional eight Hispanic faculty members along with nine new Asian faculty members.

"Things change when you start looking nationally," he said. UH is slightly ahead of the national average in Asian faculty members, quite high in
Hispanics, and extraordinarily high in terms of international faculty.

"On the other hand, we do not do well, in comparison to national norms, as to how many African-Americans there are in big research
universities," he said.

He said this is in part a function of geography and history. Since blacks only began being allowed into the major universities of the South during
the 1950s, universities in the Northeast and Midwest have the advantage of having a much larger pool of black academics to hire.

Sheridan said a number of observations could be made regarding the hiring data:

n a lack of ethnic diversity is due in large part to a limited supply of qualified minority candidates for faculty positions;

n competition for minority faculty members among universities is intense; and

n the American education system can and must do more to enhance minority success in all levels of education.

"The roots of segregation and the roots of discrimination are certainly factors" in UH's continued lack of success in hiring minority faculty
members, particularly blacks, Sheridan said.

He said that in the short term, UH should "adopt hiring practices that are vigilant in identifying and recruiting qualified minority candidates, and
create a campus environment that is supportive of minority faculty." 

Similar efforts must be made to attract and hire women faculty members, he said.

At the beginning of the board meeting, new board members Michael Cemo, Raul Gonzales and Leroy Hermes were officially sworn in to their
offices.
 
 
 

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