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Dean Discusses Hiring Of Women, Minorities at Faculty Meeting

University Hall
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences met at University hall Tuesday.
While the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has neared hiring an equal share of male and female ladder faculty members, the diversity of the body remains “concerning,” Dean of Faculty Affairs and Planning Nina Zipser said at the Faculty’s monthly meeting Tuesday.

The Faculty also approved the withdrawal of former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68’s motion against the College’s sanctions on unrecognized single gender social organizations. Though Lewis withdrew his motion in late January, the motion—and a Faculty Council-backed counter-motion to indefinitely postpone it—were technically still on the table for discussion at the meeting.

No Faculty members objected to the withdrawal of both motions, ending the latest chapter in Lewis’s months-long campaign against the sanctions.

Zipser’s presentation, postponed for several meetings due to heated debate over Lewis’s motion, outlined recent Faculty trends in hiring and promotion. According to Zipser, 29 percent of the Faculty are women and 21 percent are racial minorities. While the proportion of women in the Faculty has increased in recent years, the hiring of racial minorities has largely plateaued, she said.

This academic year, 52 percent of incoming ladder faculty were women, according to Zipser’s report. But last academic year, 38 percent of external ladder faculty offers went to women.

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“We need to remain incredibly vigilant here,” she said.

Zipser also detailed struggles women may face in the academic environment, including a lack of mentoring on work-life balance and more pressure to serve on administrative committees.

"Women feel that they are doing more committee service than men because we are constantly asking women to serve on committees,” she said.

While Zipser dedicated less time to hiring trends among minority faculty, she reported that while there has been an increase in the number of Asian faculty members, hiring of underrepresented minorities has plateaued.

After Zipser’s presentation, government professor Harvey C. Mansfield '53 questioned whether the University was employing “quotas” for women and minorities.

“There’s a great difference between a search which is made for the best candidate and one which is made with a quota in mind,” Mansfield said.

“For example, in my department the women have taken to voting in a bloc for any women that comes up,” he continued.

Zipser said that the University does not use quotas in its hiring processes.

“We want faculty to hire the very best candidate that there is,” she said. “And we believe that there is untapped talent among women and minorities.”

Zipser’s presentation followed the Faculty’s final withdrawal of Lewis’s motion. At the meeting, Docket Committee Chair Parimal G. Patil discussed the history of the motion and December’s counter-motion—which would have postponed discussion of Lewis’ motion indefinitely—and announced that they were both technically still open for Faculty discussion.

On Jan. 25, Khurana announced a new faculty committee will examine the current policy, which, starting with the class of 2021, prohibits members of the organizations from holding club and sports team leadership positions and receiving College endorsement for post-graduate scholarships. Lewis withdrew his motion in a letter to Khurana shortly afterwards.

University President Drew G. Faust was met with silence when she then asked if there were any objections to withdrawing Lewis and the Faculty Council’s respective motions.

Members of the Faculty also received an update from Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris on the status of the relatively new Biomedical Engineering concentration.

“It is a program that we think is healthy,” Harris said. “We think it's a tribute to our larger offerings both in engineering and in the life sciences as it bridges those two domains.”

At the end of the meeting, the Faculty heard a proposal by Statistics Department Chair Neil Shephard to create a Master’s degree program in Data Science. The proposed program would be a combined effort between the Statistics and Computer Science departments. The Faculty did not vote to approve or deny the proposal.

—Staff writer Joshua J. Florence can be reached at joshua.florence@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaFlorence1.

—Staff writer Mia C. Karr can be reached at mia.karr@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @miackarr.

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