Sept. 15-21, 2000
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Off the Shelf

Faculty Senate looks at how to enhance University's excellence with diversity

Why do teaching and research matter?
See complete text of the booklet, "Dynamic Synergy: Teaching and Research at the University of Virginia," a product of the Faculty Senate's focus last year on this topic.

By Anne Bromley

Under an umbrella theme of "acts of leadership," the Faculty Senate discussed at its annual fall retreat Sept. 8 how diversity relates to the academic curriculum, the student body and the faculty.

The senate will take a leadership role in pursuing some of the ideas that came out of the retreat, as it has done in the past with other themes, such as enhancing teaching, the intellectual community, the use of technology and the inter-relatedness of teaching and research.

Breaking into small groups, faculty senators brainstormed ideas for including diversity in the curriculum, hiring and retaining a more diverse faculty and making the University a more comfortable and stimulating place for a diverse student body. They then gave brief reports of their discussions to the whole group. Finding out what's already being done to accomplish those aims and supporting inclusive University programs rather than self-segregating ones were some of the recurring comments from the small groups. Most doubted that requiring students to take a three-credit course with a non-Western perspective was adequate exposure to diversity.

2000-01 Faculty Senate Officers

Patricia H. Werhane, chair, Darden School

Robert M. Grainger, chair-elect, Department of Biology, Arts & Sciences

David T. Gies, past chair, Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, Arts & Sciences

Michael J. Smith, secretary, Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, Arts & Sciences

William J. Kehoe, chair, Committee on Research & Scholarship, McIntire School of Commerce

Doris F. Glick, chair, Academic Affairs Committee, School of Nursing

Teaching about diversity should not be limited to designated courses. There's no way to teach students about all the varieties of ethnic and cultural groups; better to teach them to listen to others as a way of understanding and accepting each other, one faculty member suggested.

They also agreed that faculty need more information on the University's policies and practices for recruiting minority applicants to improve hiring efforts.

Some of the ideas and problems that came from the small-group discussion and that the Faculty Senate may investigate further this year follow.

Diversity in the curriculum

Review the core curriculum and see where diversity is already included

In advising first-year students, encourage them to take courses that would challenge them to learn about diversity issues

Reorganize course listings according to other criteria, such as diversity-related themes or issues, instead of by department

Reconsider the content of the non-Western perspective course requirement

Create new courses using the University Seminar model that would be team-taught by faculty from different departments and schools

Make sure the University is preparing students for living and working in a diverse community beyond the classroom

Help students feel part of a larger group, with opportunities to be exposed to different ethnic and cultural groups, including race and class

The University should facilitate international scholarly exchange of faculty, as well as multidisciplinary work Hiring and retaining a more diverse faculty

Expose more students to the academic work life to increase the number of those who'll pursue it, especially giving more support to minority graduate students

The University could help fund promising students who go to a different graduate school if they agree to interview at U.Va. when they're finished and are job-hunting

Make sure faculty on search committees know the University's policies regarding the recruitment of minority candidates and get assistance from the vice provost for faculty recruitment

Make sure the deans are on-board in looking to hire people of color

Give more support to new faculty, including information for spouses' employment

Be conscious of using inclusive and non-discriminatory language

Update the University's image from the traditional, all-male, all-white school to the modern, coeducational research university that it is today

Create a diversity seminar for faculty

Look for fund-raising opportunities to add faculty positions for minorities and women Making the University a more comfortable and stimulating place for a diverse student body

Get more student input about what diversity issues they think need attention

Create a connection for students to communicate with the Faculty Senate

Encourage cultural exchanges -- for example, in the Law School, international students give informal presentations about where they come from

Find ways -- maybe using summer orientation -- to introduce the range of academic disciplines to students

Encourage white students to reach out more to minorities

Expand student programs such as Grounds for Discussion and Voices from the Class

Work with the Teaching Resource Center and the Women's Leadership Council on diversity issues

Faculty expressed concern that even though it might make students feel comfortable, too much self-segregation among students may hinder them from learning about other groups. It's more important to stimulate students' thoughts about diversity even if it makes them uncomfortable, they said.

Faculty Senate chair Patricia Werhane said when all the ideas from the meeting have been transcribed, she'll send them back to the senators to suggest priorities. That will give the Faculty Senate the direction needed to accomplish a few of the ideas, she said. Since the whole University is working on a broad "Charting Diversity" initiative, the senate will also look for ways to coordinate its efforts with the University-wide roundtable groups that first met in February.

See the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs Web site at http://www.virginia.edu/eop/ for information on general policies, hiring and recruiting, and the University's Equal Opportunity Plan.

 

 

 


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