Diversity Committee: Marina Pareja (Chair), Lesley-Ann Timlick, Michael Yawney, and K. Blair Brown.
FIU Theatre Diversity Policy¹
The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. In developing a dynamic creative and scholarly program, diversity of faculty, staff, and students is necessary.
Diversity is a set of conscious practices that involve:
- Understanding and appreciating interdependence of humanity, cultures, and the natural environment.
- Practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own.
- Understanding that diversity includes not only ways of being but also ways of knowing;
- Recognizing that personal, cultural and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others;
- Building alliances across differences so that we can work together to eradicate all forms of discrimination.
Diversity includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet are present in other individuals and groups. This is what we practice and strive to perfect in the Department of Theatre.
Just some of the benefits of a multicultural education, as found in Why Multicultural Education is More Important in Higher Education Now Than Ever: A Global Perspective by Gloria M. Ameny-Dixon of McNeese State University, are:
- Multicultural education increases productivity because a variety of mental resources are available for completing the same tasks and it promotes cognitive and moral growth among all people.
- Multicultural education increases creative problem-solving skills through the different perspectives applied to same problems to reach solutions.
- Multicultural education increases positive relationships through achievement of common goals, respect, appreciation, and commitment to equality among the intellectuals at institutions of higher education.
- Multicultural education decreases stereotyping and prejudice through direct contact and interactions among diverse individuals.
- Multicultural education renews vitality of society through the richness of the different cultures of its members and fosters development of a broader and more sophisticated view of the world.
Further, research conducted at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas has found that “Students educated in racially and ethnically diverse settings perform better academically, are more likely to graduate in four years, and reap greater professional and economic success in the workplace than peers from more homogenous learning environments.” Finally, as the UNLV researchers posit, “Extending the aspirations of democracy is dependent on the capabilities and compassion of our next generation of leaders—leaders who can effectively engage with individuals and groups across the spectrum of human uniqueness.”
FIU Theatre is committed to recruiting and retaining quality faculty, and therefore is keenly interested in seeking out diverse pools of applicants. This will help to develop and grow our student diversity, and, therefore, further improve their education. We also strive to diversify our majors by various recruiting efforts, such as meet with students and faculty from the various high schools and theatre conferences/festivals, and follow up with personal letters and workshops.
National Data on Faculty Diversity ²
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES 2008) reports that just under 20 percent of the nation’s professoriate consists of persons of color—blacks/African Americans (5.6 percent), Hispanic/Latinos (3.5 percent), Asian Americans (9.1 percent), and American Indians (1.4 percent). However, data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that minority groups constitute roughly one-third of the U.S. population (Census Bureau 2009). Even more disturbing, the presence of underrepresented minorities (URMs) is less than 10 percent in certain disciplines. Further, in many cases, an extremely low percentage of URMs populate the departmental faculties of the top fifty institutions.
Similar data are reported for women in the professoriate. While women have made significant advances on college and university faculties in recent years, their faculty presence in many disciplines lags far behind that of men. In some disciplines they constitute fewer than 10 percent of the professoriate in the top fifty research universities. Women of color fare even worse on college and university faculties.
- While women represent over half (51.5%) of Assistant Professors and are near parity (44.9%) among Associate Professors, they accounted for less than a third (32.4%) of Professors in 2015.
- Women held over half (57.0%) of all instructor positions, among the lowest ranking positions in academia.
- 1% of women faculty are in non-tenure-track positions, compared to 16.8% of men faculty.
- Develop a specific proactive plan (e.g., a pipeline) to recruit women or URM faculty and, eventually, graduate students.
- Require those serving on faculty search committees to participate in STRIDE hiring workshops (STRIDE stands for Strategies and Tactics for Recruitment to Increase Diversity and Equity and is administered by AWED).
- Identify 1-2 faculty to serve as Diversity Advocates on search committees and have them attend a STRIDE diversity advocate training.
- Implement best practices recommended by STRIDE to increase diversity for faculty searches (i.e, use “open” broadly defined job search ads, ask job candidates to provide a diversity statement with their application materials, etc.; examples can be provided)
- Request a STRIDE training tailored to T&P issues for departmental Personnel Committees
- Encourage faculty to participate in FIU’s NSF-funded research projects aimed at increasing institutional transformation (e.g., Interactive Theater Events, Bystander Intervention Program, Diversity Advocate Program)
- Encourage faculty to address issues of diversity in their research, writing, conference papers, and presentations.
- Recognize the service, research, and teaching in annual evaluations of individual faculty that help meet diversity and inclusion efforts.
- Conduct a Departmental Annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Self Study (request model adapted from Oregon State ADVANCE).
- Develop a departmental mission statement that includes language regarding equity, diversity, and inclusiveness for faculty, students and staff.
- Set up a Diversity and Inclusion Committee within the department to make policy and procedure recommendations, to conduct an annual diversity self-study, and/or to develop a departmental mission statement.
Search and Hiring Checklist for Tenure and Tenure-Track Recruitments Before and During the Search (4)
- Create a diverse search committee, including, where possible, women, underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities, and members of other underrepresented groups.
- Appoint a search committee member as a diversity advocate to help ensure that the search is consistent with best practices in faculty search and hiring and that it gives due consideration to all candidates.
- Associate Dean or Chair meets with committee at beginning of search process to reinforce importance of diversity and goal of identifying outstanding women, underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities, or members of other underrepresented groups as candidates for the position, and to reiterate selection criteria.
- Create a search plan, including broad outreach.
- Add language to job ad signaling a special interest in candidates who contribute to the department’s diversity priorities. For example: “The search committee is especially interested in candidates who, through their research, teaching, and/or service, will contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community.”
- During the Search, have search committee chair and members reach out to colleagues at institutions that have diverse faculty and students to identify high-potential female and underrepresented minority candidates and encourage them to apply for the position.
- Advertise broadly, including to interest groups with diverse faculty audiences.
- To ensure that each candidate is asked about his or her demonstrated commitment to diversity, and experience working in diverse environments, designate one person to lead asking these questions; this person should (preferably) not be the only female or underrepresented minority committee member.
- Discuss, prior to interviewing candidates, how criteria listed in job ad will be weighted and valued.
- Ensure that each candidate is evaluated on all criteria listed in job ad and identified as meaningful in the search.
- Dean or leadership responsible for hiring reviews all slates of candidates before any offers are made. If the committee is unable to find any competitive candidates from underrepresented groups, the chair will provide an explanation in writing, to the dean or leadership, of what steps were taken to identify such candidates and why the committee was unsuccessful.
Search and Hiring Checklist for Tenure and Tenure-Track Recruitments After the Interview Process (5)
Connect final-round candidates with faculty who share similar background and interests.
Conduct a post-search debrief to review how the process went for the search committee, chair, and hire, including discussion of any candidates who turned down offers and what might have been done to make their recruitments successful
The summary below of a US Department of Education study (Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education: Key Data Highlights Focusing on Race and Ethnicity and Promising Practices) shows the continuing educational inequities and opportunity gaps in accessing and completing a quality postsecondary education. The following are key findings from the analysis:
Higher education is a key pathway for social mobility in the United States. At roughly 2.5 percent, the unemployment rate for college graduates is about half of the national average. Among Hispanics, adults who had only completed a high school diploma earned $30,329, compared with $58,493 for those who had completed four-year college (or higher). Among blacks, adults with a high school diploma earned $28,439 compared with $59,027 for those who held a bachelor’s degree (see pages 10-14).
During the past 50 years, the U.S. has seen racial and ethnic disparities in higher education enrollment and attainment, as well as gaps in earnings, employment, and other related outcomes for communities of color. While the share of the population with a high school diploma has risen over time for Hispanic, black, white, and Asian adult U.S. residents, the gap in bachelor’s degree attainment has widened for both black and Hispanic adults compared to white adults. Specifically, the gap in bachelor’s degree attainment has doubled, from 9 to 20 percent for Hispanic residents since 1974 and from 6 to 13 percent for black residents since 1964. This has significant effects for students’ lives; among all races and ethnicities, there are significant gaps in post-college earnings and employment between those with only a high school diploma and those with a bachelor’s degree (see pages 24-28).
Gaps in college opportunity have contributed to diminished social mobility (e.g., the ability to jump to higher income levels across generations) within the United States, and gaps in college opportunity are in turn influenced by disparities in students’ experiences before graduating from high school. This is particularly true for people of color, who share many of the same childhood and educational experiences as low-income and first-generation college students. For instance, research shows that one of the factors most likely to negatively contribute to the racial and ethnic gap in college completion is elementary and high school segregation. Studies have documented the impacts associated with racial and economic isolation in schools and neighborhoods, such as greater stress that interferes with learning and less familiarity with information and skills that are necessary for future success. Students of color also, on average, have less access to advanced high school coursework and counselors who are focused on preparing students for enrolling in postsecondary education.
To provide equitable, valuable experiences to students of color and low-income students — as well as other underrepresented populations that are not highlighted in this report — colleges and universities have implemented practices designed to meet the needs of their campuses. The following areas of focus encompass practices that research suggests can help advance diversity and inclusion on college campuses:
Institutional Commitment to Promoting Student Body Diversity and Inclusion on Campus: Research shows that colleges and universities seeking to promote campus diversity identify how diversity relates to their core institutional mission and the unique circumstances of the institution. For example, mission statements and strategic plans that promote student body diversity and inclusion on campus establish priorities that can, in turn, lead institutions to allocate the necessary funds and resources for those purposes. Institutions are encouraged to consider building their capacity to collect and analyze the data required to set and track their diversity and inclusion goals.
Diversity Across All Levels of an Institution: Research shows that campus leadership, including a diverse faculty, plays an important role in achieving inclusive institutions. For example, faculty
members’ curricular decisions and pedagogy, including their individual interactions with students, can foster inclusive climates. Also, students report that it is important for them to see themselves reflected in the faculty and curriculum to which they are exposed to create a sense of belonging and inclusiveness.
Outreach and Recruitment of Prospective Students: Institutions committed to student body diversity can take steps to improve outreach and recruitment to a diverse array of students. For instance, institutions often work to proactively develop relationships and provide support to the elementary and secondary schools that are located within communities surrounding the institution. Some strategies supported by research include comprehensive and ongoing support from administrators and peers; peer advising provided by similarly aged students; targeted support for critical steps such as completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and test prep; and exposure for students to college-level work while they are in high school.
Support Services for Students: In general, student support services are associated with improved academic outcomes, including after students’ first years in college. Well-designed course placement strategies mitigate the time students spend in remedial education without making progress toward a credential. Individualized mentoring and coaching can increase the odds that students remain enrolled in school. First-year experience programs, such as summer bridge programs that support incoming students, can improve academic achievement and credit-earning.
Inclusive Campus Climate: Students report less discrimination and bias at institutions where they perceive a stronger institutional commitment to diversity. Institutions are encouraged to develop and facilitate programming to increase the cultural competency of leadership, faculty, staff, and students. Institutions are also encouraged to perform an assessment of their campus climate related to diversity in order to identify areas for improvement. Many institutions include cultural competency training in new student orientation and require that students take coursework in diversity as freshmen. Cultural and socio-emotional support systems like personal mentoring and counseling can help all students to thrive on campus and are important for students who do not comprise a racial or ethnic majority. Institutional leaders create support systems individualized to students’ needs that are highly visible and accessible, and engage students in the decision-making process regarding campus climate. Successful institutions also make financial support available to close the need gap for economically disadvantaged students.
Our location almost guarantees a majority of Hispanic students. In service to our community, we want to admit and enroll the best of those students. We are also a theatre department and want to represent a global perspective, as demanded by dramatic literature; so we want to actively recruit all races, cultures, and ethnicities. Our art allows for all cultures to be represented, which allows students to investigate and reflect their various backgrounds. This not only helps our productions and classrooms represent the world at large, but aids greatly in student learning. “Cultural diversity inherently brings in to the classroom a cultural perspective that is fundamentally diverse and thus forces students to understand issues from different points of view,” says Dean John Labrie of the College of Professional Studies, Northeastern University. These different points of view are critical to the education of our primarily young audiences. Cultural diversity aids greatly in developing critical thinking—regardless of one’s discipline. We are an urban institution, moreover, and have access to a broad range of cultures. We must be proactive in taking advantage of this in the recruiting process. What is critical here is that the theatre faculty represent the cultures that we wish to and need to recruit and that students are encouraged and given opportunities to research and creatively reflect their roots.
- Recruit diverse faculty that represent the desired multi-cultural student body.
- Recruit faculty that represent the genders of the student body.
- Create curriculum and production opportunities that allow for students to express their various cultures and genders.
- Establish internships with theatre and production companies that align with students’ gender and cultural interests.
- High School students respond to PERSONAL LETTERS and E-MAILS. Once contact has been made during high school recruiting fairs, auditions, workshops, tours, performances, etc., respective faculty should respond and follow-up with personal letters and e-mails (they generally respond better to these than they do texts and they often find Facebook impersonal).
- The WEBSITE must be kept up to date and have a link(s) especially for prospective students.
- Include prospective students’ SUPPORT NETWORK—ESPECIALLY FOR FIRST GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS.
- Minority students begin their searches for colleges and universities earlier than non-first generation and Caucasian students, so the recruiting process must begin early—beginning in middle school is not too soon!
- Women are 10% more likely to begin their college searches in their freshman year or earlier.
- Campus visit information must be sent out in advance and then must be followed up with reminders
- BE MOBILE FRIENDLY! Students respond to their cell phones more than anything else.
- Students like to TEXT institutions and not vice versa.
- SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT that important FOR UNDER REPRESENTED STUDENTS, but home-made youtube videos seem to capture attention (FACEBOOK HAS DROPPED 12% of its audience over the past several years and it is found to be impersonal by many prospective minority students.
- RADIO, TV, NEWSPAPERS, MAGAZINE ADS ARE LEAST HELPFUL.
- START ENGAGING EARLY.
- Mentor to retain…surveys, mandatory one on one meetings, etc.
- Recruiting materials at conferences and festivals—let potential students know about the rich cultural diversity in Miami.
In recent years, several strategies have been employed by colleges and universities to achieve greater faculty and student diversity. Most of these efforts have focused on increasing the “numbers” of persons from diverse groups on faculties and in the student body—often by providing attractive financial incentives with mixed results over the long haul. Clearly, the acquisition of a critical mass of individuals from diverse groups is the important first step in achieving faculty and student diversity. Of course, full faculty and student diversity requires far more than numbers. In order to achieve true faculty and student diversity, a climate for inclusion must permeate the entire department, college, and university. This is happening!
1 Many sources were consulted and the following contains much paraphrasing and quoting from those sources (University of Nevada-Las Vegas, University of Oregon, Queensborough College, Northwestern University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Association of American Colleges and Universities, et al).
2 Almost verbatim from Association of American Colleges and Universities, Summer 2010, Vol. 12, No. 3.
3 Adopted from FIU’s suggested strategy (draft).
4 Adopted from Columbia University.
6 Much of this was adopted from an eCampus survey.
7 Association of American Colleges and Universities, Summer 2010, Vol. 12, No. 3.