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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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NU hires 10 black profs

Northwestern had a banner year in minority faculty hiring, with 10 black, three Latino and three Asian-American professors set to start in the fall.

Provost Lawrence Dumas’ announcement on Wednesday caps off months of increased emphasis on minority recruitment and a $1 million pledge to support the effort after a report released in September criticized the number of minority faculty at NU.

The large addition of black professors is especially noteworthy considering NU’s recent hiring history. In the past 15 years, the percentage of black professors has increased by slightly more than half, from about 1.2 percent in 1986 to 1.9 percent in 2000, according to NU’s data books.

That growth is dwarfed by other minorities: The percentage of Asian Americans in NU’s faculty has tripled from 3.7 percent to 9.7 percent, while the percentage of Latinos has quadrupled from 0.5 percent to 2.1 percent. Latinos overtook black professors as the second-largest minority in NU’s faculty in 1999.

Dumas said the hirings are a direct result of increased efforts following the Faculty Diversity Committee’s report, which said that although NU had higher faculty diversity than the average university, it should still do better.

“I’m very impressed with the renewed level of energy and commitment that the faculty and the department chairs and the deans have exhibited,” Dumas said.

The money from the grant has allowed search committees to be more aggressive in their hiring by providing supplemental funds, Dumas said. Often times, a department will find a qualified minority candidate for a position that is not yet open but will open in a year or two, he said.

The supplemental funding then can be used as “bridge money” to secure the candidate until the post opens, or the funding allow the candidate to get a head start on research or complete a year of post-doctoral study, Dumas said.

When hiring for open posts, departments usually are able to pay all the costs, Dumas said.

“In some cases, they don’t need any extra money because the person they found is a good fit for a position that was already vacant, and they shout ‘Eureka!’ and go ahead and appoint the person,” he said.

The $1 million figure should last the committee several years because the money is not being given out all at once, Dumas said.

“We haven’t committed all of it yet, and we’ll continue to commit funds next year,” he said.

The committee also has been working since Fall Quarter to encourage the university’s various search committees to consider minorities during the hiring process and to reinforce the importance of diversity at NU, Dumas said.

‘it’s not easy’

Sometimes verbal encouragement is not enough, according to some administrators and faculty.

Medill School of Journalism Dean Loren Ghiglione has been vocal about his desire to increase diversity within his school since his arrival at NU last year, a welcome viewpoint for the school’s minority faculty.

Although asking search committees to look for minority candidates keeps the issue “on the front burner,” it does not necessarily mean more minority candidates will apply for positions, said Ava Greenwell, a Medill associate dean and one of the few black faculty members at NU holding a dean position.

It is also difficult to track diversity hiring because minorities might not always apply for all the different positions that become available in different years, Greenwell said.

“Is (minority hiring) easy? No, it’s not easy,” she said. “If it were easy, it would have been done a long time ago.”

“But there does have to be a concerted effort and emphasis placed on the issue,” she added.

Greenwell said NU’s increase in black faculty is good but she hopes it is not the end of improvements. Though NU ranks among its peers in the Big Ten for diversity, it could still do better, she said.

“That’s wonderful progress,” she said. “But I think we still have a ways to go. … Let’s not let it end at 10.”

‘a really nice success’

NU does indeed have plans to continue its diversity efforts, Dumas said. Now that the school hired Dwight McBride of the University of Illinois-Chicago to begin as the African-American studies department chairman, the department can continue on its expansion path, Dumas said.

“Now (McBride) can be a leader in the further faculty recruitment that we already have planned and budgeted for this department,” he said. “It’s a really nice success for the college and for that department in particular.”

McBride will take over the post from Mary Patillo, who was serving a temporary one-year term and plans to leave NU for a fellowship at Stanford University.

Weinberg Dean Eric Sundquist said four faculty members – including McBride – have been added to the African-American studies department in the past few years, with two receiving funding from the college and two receiving funding from the provost’s office.

“Both the college and the provost together have made a commitment to add new positions to the department,” Sundquist said. “It represents a significant increase in the size of the department.”

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NU hires 10 black profs