The Future of Professors and Inclusion in Higher Education

Virginia Tech is working to be a more diverse and inclusive university. It is trying to attract students that represent all the diversity that exists in the society, while at the same time is trying to retain students that represent minorities in the Hokie community.

I have seen that some departments are also investing to have a more diverse faculty team. However, there is still a considerable difference between the number of white and non-white faculty. According to the Office of Institutional Research & Effectiveness, Virginia Tech has a total of 1,496 tenure and tenure-track faculty. From that total, 72.7% are white and the rest is divided as follows: 14.3% Asian, 3.4% Hispanics, 3.2 Black or African American, 0.5% of two or more races, 0.4% American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and 5.3% are categorized as nonresident aliens.

In this sense, and because the background and experiences of every professor are different, I think that faculty should receive workshops on diversity and inclusion topics. These workshops should be in person and obligatory for all because an online course won’t be enough to transfer this sensitive information. Professors are important to advance in inclusion inside a university because they interact with students, are in charge of the future of education, and select the next generation of faculty. If Virginia Tech prepares its human resources to be more open and inclusive, the atmosphere and the students’ experiences will improve in the long term.

Diversity and inclusion are complex topics, so, every training opportunity will help to expand the faculty knowledge. This training could improve the experience of minority groups in their insertion to the Virginia Tech community.

References:

  1. Office of Institutional Research & Effectiveness, Virginia Tech. https://www.ir.vt.edu/data/facultyStaff.html

8 Comments

Filed under Preparing the Future Professoriate

8 Responses to The Future of Professors and Inclusion in Higher Education

  1. jcwoods

    This is a great piece. Diversity and inclusion conversation is sensitive and can most times become emotive. As such, most individuals abstain from the conversation. To put my response in context based on the statistics you have provided, it is important to recognize the classification of Virginia Tech; Virginia Tech is a Predominantly White Institution (PWI). Thus, it statistics will always look that way. However, I do agree with you that more efforts have to be made to increase the representation of diverse groups. I think this is embedded in the vision and workings of the current leadership headed by President Sands with the aim of increase underrepresented groups to 30% in student, staff, and faculty populations. As part of this also, your proposal on faculty receiving workshops to understand how to interact with students and next generation is important and should be given consideration given that they are the primary point of interaction with the students.

  2. houri80

    Great post on diversity inclusion. I agree with expanding the culture of inclusion in academia using workshops and simply saying, teaching professors. Sharing my own experience, I remember talking to one of the professors about a possible gap in one of the US standards and without letting me going forward, he accused me that you are telling me there is something wrong with the US standard! I assume I did not mean it, but the way he expressed, I felt like he was somehow mentioning that you as an international student does not have the right to criticize US standards. unfortunately, it is hard for some of the professors to believe in science without border.

  3. Thanks for the post, Valesksa! I totally agree with you. Often, these words 0 diversity and inclusion – are grouped together as if they mean the same thing. I find there to be a symbiotic relationship between these words. One doesn’t stick without the other, they need each other to work. Diversity is used in higher education to equate to who represents their student body. While having all forms of diversity represented is wonderful, it won’t be successful with out the act inclusion. Inclusion is a catalyst to foster innovation, facilitate cultural connections, encourage participation, and, what higher education should be striving for, attracts more diverse talent. Thanks again for sharing. I really loved this post.

  4. Jenna Davis

    Hello! Great post. I agree with you completely that I don’t believe that the online diversity edu workshops are super helpful. A lot of the time you can just open another tab and go back once the video is over with. I think having in-person workshops would be more beneficial. This is something to think about not only with faculty but with students. Maybe they could incorporate these workshops in at orientation as well.

  5. jyotirmoy

    I enjoyed your take on the future. Diversity adds to the richness of a university and in a comprehensive learning process. USA is really doing a good job in most universities in increasing diversity as part of its institutional culture. However, I do not see a similar scenario in other countries. Perhaps, the quality of education determines how much international students are willing to travel and invest while pursuing studies abroad and diversity could be correlated to the quality of education. Hopefully, in the future, education around the world would come to better standaradization so that studying in the US or any other country may not be very different from an academic perspective and then people would have several options to travel anywhere around the world.

  6. fffinch

    Hi Valeska! I think your post raises a key problem when we talk about diversity and inclusion at the university: we focus a lot on the student body, and we do not investigate enough the diversity of the faculty. It is a real shame because it is transformative, essential even, for students from any minority (ethnic/racial, sexual, class) to have professors and mentors who can share their experiences of struggle and of success. In addition, I get the feeling sometimes from interacting with undergrads that their professors’ experiences and the content of the courses are not relevant to them. Well, with 73% of the faculty coming from one ethnic group, I can imagine at least one way that that problem could be produced. I don’t know if you are on twitter, but @DrJonathanRosa is someone whom I follow and respect who touches on the exact issue you bring up from time to time. He is a linguistic anthropologist at Stanford. See you tomorrow! — Frank

  7. alisafi

    Valeska, I agree with your point that inclusion and diversity are very important and holding workshops is a tool that could help the process of making the university human resources more diverse. However, the question is, how effective would these workshops be? I believe that while these workshops will be useful, a far more inclusive set of measures, specially in the cultural aspect, are required to ensure their effectiveness. The reason is that in the first place, people should care about inclusion and diversity and this is a point of view that should be internalized in peopole, including the professors, throughout their education in life.

  8. udayad15

    I really appreciate that you brought up the role of human resources department in diversity and inclusion. Definitely, a lot of internal politics happen at the administration level and so these people need to be made aware of the importance of inclusivity in academia and it’s importance in nurturing global leaders.

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