Interim provost plans for more wider range of faculty within ten years

 

According to UTSA’s 2016 Census Demographics, 51 percent UTSA students are Hispanic, but only 18 percent of UTSA faculty are Hispanic. Comparatively, 26 percent of UTSA students are white, while 54 percent of UTSA faculty members are white.

“We realize where we need to be, regarding diversity of our faculty. We are not going to waste a lot of time hanging our head in shame or berating ourselves. Instead, we are taking immediate action to make positive change,” Dr. C. Mauli Agrawal, interim provost of academic affairs, said.

In the next 10 years, Agrawal wants to see a 50 percent increase in the number of Hispanic and black faculty, as well as an equivalent number of men and women faculty members.

Agrawal listed ways to diversify UTSA’s staff, including putting ads in the newspaper, which he said is the “easy way” out. Agrawal doesn’t think UTSA can afford to take the easy way out. Instead, he claims the most effective way to reach UTSA’s diversity goal would be to proactively create a diverse pool of minority professors; train search committees to remove or bring the attention to their “implicit biases”; add a diversity advocate to the search committee to help callout implicit biases; and ask applicants about how and why diversity is important in the workplace.

Mr. UTSA, Jacorey Patterson, would like UTSA’s faculty to mirror its student population.

“UTSA is an HSI (Hispanic serving institution), but there are more white faculty than Hispanics. If we are serving Hispanic students, why can’t they be served by people who look like them?”

Black faculty members comprise four percent of UTSA staff. A student’s success could hinge upon having role models who look like them or come from similar ethnic backgrounds. According to a Johns Hopkins University study, a black student’s probability of dropping out is reduced by 29 percent if he or she has at least one black teacher during third through fifth grade, a student’s formative years.

African American instructors have an impact from grade school to college. Associate professor Dr. Laguana Gray had a Latina grad student who told her she was one of the reasons that she finished her bachelor’s degree. Gray said, “I think one of the reasons I’m here is for underrepresented groups.”

As shown by Gray’s experience, minority professors can have a positive influence on minority students. Gray also believes minority professors can have a positive influence on white students.

Mario Salas, civil rights leader, author and UTSA professor, said, “It’s important to have an African American professor at the institutions because white students benefit from it just as much as black students do.”

He went on to say the education system for centuries has been inundated with racial fiction. He also said there’s not a single subject he could think of in which a black person did not contribute to that subject; however, Salas also said black people are not recognized throughout a number of textbooks; the presence of African American professors can change the lack of exposure of people of color.

According to Salas, UTSA should be applauded for the work it has done with the African American program, and maybe, in time, UTSA can be the standard of diversity for universities across the nation.

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