Harvard Sees Gains in Faculty Diversity

Harvard University released data Monday illustrating gains in the diversity of its faculty over the last decade.

During that time the total number of tenured and tenure-track positions did not change much at all, although the proportion who were tenured went up. Among the other changes in the makeup of the tenured faculty:

  • The percentage who are white men dropped from 69.0 percent to 60.8 percent.
  • The percentage who are white women increased from 18.2 percent to 20.4 percent.
  • The percentage of Asian women more than doubled, from 1.4 percent to 2.9 percent, while the percentage of Asian men grew from 6.2 percent to 8.2 percent.
  • The percentages also went up for those in underrepresented minority groups -- for women from 0.9 percent to 2.5 percent, and for men from 4.1 percent to 5.2 percent.

Gains for those who were not white males also were evident in the tenure-track, nontenured category, where white males dropped from 47.8 percent to 42.3 percent.

The data show that the percentage of the Harvard faculty (tenured and tenure track) who are white men is now at an all-time low for the institution.

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Hood College GOP Criticized for Display

Hood College is debating a display set up by students in the Republican group there, The Frederick News-Post reported. Student groups at Hood take turns setting up a display behind a glass case in the student union. The Republican display, on view this week, includes images of Presidents Lincoln and Reagan. But the display is being criticized as violating anti-harassment rules because it also includes quotations suggesting that transgender people are mentally ill, and others that say, "Abortion is the number-one killer of black lives in the United States" and “"the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb."

Andrea Chapeldaine, the president at Hood, has invited students to a forum on the issue Tuesday. She also said that the college would review the messages in the display to determine if they violate college rules. The display is scheduled to come down Tuesday in a regular rotation, having nothing to do with the controversy.

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Study finds women in economics write papers that are more readable, but face longer publication delays

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Female economists write papers that are more readable than those produced by their male counterparts but take significantly longer to get published, study finds.

Number of Hispanic-Serving Colleges Grows

As the number of Latinos who attend college grows, growing as well is the number of colleges that meet the federal definition of being Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), which is generally 25 percent or more Latino enrollment. There were 472 HSIs last year, which is up 37 from the previous academic year, according to Excelencia in Education and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

The two groups also said the growth remains concentrated, with 14 percent of all institutions enrolling 64 percent of all Latino undergraduates.

“The continuing growth in the number of HSIs is a positive sign of progress in educational opportunity and achievement for Hispanics, who account for almost three quarters of the growth in the U.S. work force in this decade. Hispanic educational success is vital to America’s future prosperity and security,” John Moder, senior vice president and chief operating officer at HACU, said in a written statement.

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Publishing Gaps in STEM Ph.D. Programs

A new study in PLOS One suggests that structural interventions in Ph.D. programs in the natural and applied sciences may increase publication rates for underrepresented minorities. The study analyzed data from two internal surveys of Ph.D. students at University of California, Berkeley, both of which indicated that underrepresented groups engage in publishing activity at significantly lower rates than more represented male students (the study considers student feedback on whether they’d recently submitted a paper for publication or delivered papers at national scholarly meetings).

The authors argue that such outcomes perpetuate the diversity gap in the STEM fields because publications matter in appointments to postdoctoral and faculty positions. Yet a “conspicuous exception” to their findings was Berkeley’s College of Chemistry, which the study describes as “a highly structured environment in which [students] are introduced to research (via lab rotations) at the outset of their studies, their advisors are regularly and systematically queried as to their students’ progress, and expectations surrounding publication of research results are both implicitly and explicitly clear even in the first two years of study.”

Co-author Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Psychology and associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the College of Letters and Science at Berkeley, said in an interview that he’s currently engaged in qualitative work to further define the relationship between the chemistry department’s structure on campus and student publication engagement. He nevertheless called the paper’s existing hypothesis that there is a connection “compelling,” and said there’s no reason why chemistry’s more structured approach to Ph.D. education can’t be exported to other disciplines and campuses. “It’s fairly straightforward,” he said, noting that a number of other STEM diversity efforts have attempted to change students' mind-sets or train faculty members to recognize unconscious biases, but few have taken a structural approach. “That’s why we’re so excited about it.”

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Saint Martin's Tenured Faculty Members Unionize

Tenure-track and tenured faculty members and librarians at Saint Martin’s University voted to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced Friday. The new union is calling on administrators to honor the vote by engaging in collective bargaining with it. That’s despite previous administrative opposition to a non-tenure-track faculty union on campus on the grounds that as a religious institution, Saint Martin’s is not bound to National Labor Relations Board decisions. That board voted in 2014 to allow contingent faculty members at Pacific Lutheran University to form a union because they did not perform specific religious functions.

The newest Saint Martin’s vote is complicated by a separate, longstanding legal precedent against tenure-track faculty unions at private institutions, because these professors are managers. A local NLRB office ruled against a tenure-track faculty union at Carroll College in 2016 on the those grounds. University officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Roy Heynderickx, university president, said last month in response to a faculty walkout over union issues that the campus's Board of Trustees and Saint Martin’s Abbey have "reaffirmed their belief that a direct working relationship between faculty and administration best serves the educational mission of the university," according to The Olympian.

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White nationalist group prompts backlash at Auburn University

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A new group at Auburn University has dubbed itself the Auburn White Student Union, though it's not affiliated with the institution.

Salem Students Hold Sit-In Over Diversity Issues

About 100 students held a sit-in at Salem College for much of Monday, seeking to draw attention to a 10-page list of demands related to diversity and inclusion, The Winston-Salem Journal reported. College officials said they were willing to meet with the students to discuss their concerns. The students demanded that:

  • All board members, administrators and faculty members be required to undergo at least 16 hours of diversity training a year.
  • The board reflect the racial composition of the student body.
  • A new system of faculty evaluations be set up to hold faculty members "accountable" for their actions in classes.
  • New health and counseling staff members be hired, reflecting the racial composition of the student body.
  • Transgender students who identify as women be considered for admission. (Salem is a women's college.)
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Study Examines Loan Aversion by Population

A new study out of Vanderbilt University seeks to quantify loan aversion among different populations.

The study, “Understanding Loan Aversion in Education: Evidence From High School Seniors, Community College Students and Adults,” is based on survey data from 6,000 people.

Among high school seniors, students at community college and adults without a college degree, the majority of each group believe it’s a good idea to save up enough money before making a purchase (as opposed to borrowing money to buy). More specifically, 21 percent of high school students and 20 percent of non-college-educated adults did not think it was acceptable to borrow money for education, while only 9 percent of community college students felt that way. Over half of the community college students surveyed had borrowed money to attend their current school.

The authors -- Angela Boatman, Brent J. Evans and Adela Saliz, all three of whom are assistant professors of public policy and higher education at Vanderbilt -- also found that women are less loan averse than men and that Hispanic students tend to be more loan averse than white students.


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Transgender Employees Sue Wisconsin System

The University of Wisconsin System is being sued by two of its transgender employees because the system and the state insurance board will no longer cover gender reassignment surgeries, The Associated Press reported.

Both employees identify as female and work at the Madison campus, one as an anthropology graduate student and the other as a cancer researcher. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit last week on their behalf.

Because both employees are on the university’s health insurance plan and that plan no longer covers medical procedures surrounding gender dysphoria -- the condition in which someone feels they were born into the body of the wrong sex -- they are accusing the university and insurance board of discrimination by sex and gender.

“Too many transgender people continue to face discrimination in all facets of life, including health care access, and so I felt compelled to stand up and try to do something about it,” one of the plaintiffs, Alina Boyden, said in a news release.

Last summer, the state’s insurance board added benefits for gender dysphoria that could account for up to $150,000, but in December, before the benefits went into effect, the board voted to exclude the benefits.

Both plaintiffs have been advised by their primary care physicians to seek gender reassignment surgery. Without coverage under their university insurance plans, they would either have to opt out of the procedures or pay thousands of dollars out of pocket.

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