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College faculty don’t reflect the diversity of the students they teach, according to a new study the Government Accountability Office released Tuesday.

“Research has shown that faculty diversity plays an important role in student completion and can have a major impact on students’ sense of belonging and retention rates,” said U.S. representative Bobby Scott, the ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, told The Hill. “That is why I asked the GAO to study the state of faculty diversity at institutions of higher and the hiring and retention policies to promote faculty diversity.”

According to the resulting report, the percentage of Black and Hispanic faculty members has increased over the past 20 years, but not enough to be representative of an increasingly diverse student body. 

As of 2021, 8 percent of faculty were Black compared to 12 percent of students; 7 percent of faculty were Hispanic compared to 19 percent of students. The report recommended diversifying search committees, mentoring new and junior faculty, and fostering an inclusive campus climate, among other strategies to improve recruitment and retention of marginalized faculty. 

Between 2011 and 2021, faculty or other campus employees filed some 20,000 federal complaints alleging employment discrimination at an institution of higher education. The percentage of delayed referrals increased from 40 percent in 2011 to 73 percent in 2022. In 2022, the department took an average of 71 days to refer complaints to the EEOC.

The report also found that the U.S. Education Department doesn’t refer the majority of those complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within the required 30-day time frame.

The GAO recommended the Education Department track how many days it takes to process referrals and for the EEOC to develop new protocols for processing complaints. The Department of Education agreed to track the timing but there’s been no movement on changing any protocols, according to The Hill.