Gasman: Elite research institutions don’t have diverse faculties because ‘we don't want them’

September 27, 2016

UPDATED:  Marybeth Gasman writes about the reactions she received from people who read her essay from The Washington Post regarding why universities don't hire faculty of color. 

Marybeth Gasman, Penn GSE
Dr. Marybeth Gasman

At a forum this summer, Marybeth Gasman was asked why the faculty at elite research institutions were overwhelmingly white. 

“The reason we don’t have more faculty of color among college faculty is that we don’t want them,” responded Gasman, Director of Penn GSE’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions. “We simply don’t want them.”

In an essay published in the Hechinger Report and the Washington Post, Gasman further explored why many faculties at majority institutions often fail to reflect the diversity of their students.

“Having a diverse faculty — in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion — adds greatly to the experiences of students in the classroom,” Gasman writes. “It challenges them — given that they are likely not to have had diversity in their K-12 classroom teachers — to think differently about who produces knowledge. It also challenges them to move away from a ‘white-centered’ approach to one that is inclusive of many different voices and perspectives.”

If colleges are really serious about diversifying their faculty positions, Gasman challenges them to rethink longstanding hiring practices, and ask why those practices came into being in the first place.

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