CAOs Explore ‘New Realities, New Solutions’

CIC’s 44th annual Institute for Chief Academic Officers, held in New Orleans, Louisiana November 5–8, 2016, focused on changes in the core responsibilities of the chief academic officer and strategies to sustain strong academic leadership. The theme, “New Realities, New Solutions,” provided a framework for deliberation and action on pressing issues that academic administrators face and for candid sharing of successes and challenges.

The institute is the largest annual conference of chief academic officers of any of the higher education associations. This year, the event attracted 281 chief academic officers, 124 academic team members, and a grand total of 537 participants. Participants traveled from as far as Nigeria and Hawaii and descended on the Big Easy from all across the continental United States.

“The Institute was designed to help participants exchange ideas and experiences, learn about new trends in higher education, and flesh out ideas to move institutions toward successful innovation,” remarked Kathy Whatley, CIC senior vice president and liaison to the CAO Institute Task Force. “Perhaps most importantly, the gathering offered opportunities for chief academic officers and their academic teams to share—with candor—ideas, practical solutions, and effective practices with colleagues.”

The program featured leading authorities on key aspects of the work of chief academic officers. Plenary speaker Jeffrey J. Selingo, best-selling author and award-winning columnist, shared his thoughts on the skills that students should develop before they graduate from college and what CAOs can do to put students on a path toward fulfilling employment. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College (GA), addressed how the current racial climate serves as a backdrop for student identity development and ways in which campus leaders can create a positive learning environment for all students. Katherine W. Phillips, Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics and senior vice dean of Columbia University Business School, explained research that documents ways in which diversity enhances learning in the classroom and performance in the workplace. And Nobel prize-winning physicist and Stanford University professor Carl E. Wieman discussed the cognitive sciences foundation of the most effective teaching strategies and the implications for education in all fields at independent colleges and universities.

Sessions throughout the conference examined topics such as alternative organizational structures for academic affairs, models for both developing and discontinuing academic programs, methods to enhance student success, faculty workforce trends, and hiring and evaluation processes. Officers had the opportunity to participate in an “open mike” session and gain professional development in several workshops: Aligning Planning with Resource Allocation and Assessment; Challenges to Shared Governance in a Time of Constrained Resources; and Workshop for New Academic Team Members. In addition, the Institute offered workshops designed for new chief academic officers and CAOs in their third or fourth year of service, as well as special programming for spouses and partners of CAOs.

J. Andrew Prall, vice president for academic affairs at the University of Saint Francis (IN), reflected “The panel and plenary sessions this year were particularly engaging and thought provoking. I also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to talk to others in similar positions and to hear about how things are done at their institutions. There were many semi-structured opportunities to have those conversations. I have long lists of books to read and ideas to ponder.”

During the Institute, CIC honored William Charles Deeds, provost of Morningside College (IA) since 2000, with the 2016 Chief Academic Officer Award for his exemplary efforts to enhance the role and work of the private college CAO. Beverly Daniel Tatum received the 2016 Chief Academic Leadership Award in recognition of her unfailing devotion to the students and faculty members of liberal arts colleges and universities.

View podcasts of the plenary sessions as well as slideshow presentations and handouts from many Institute sessions.

Participant stands at microphone to ask question of presenter During the 2016 Institute for Chief Academic Officers, speakers and participants engaged in lively question-and-answer sessions.

Participants discussing topics seated at a roundtable Participants in the Workshop for New Chief Academic Officers discussed key issues in small groups.

Participants discussing topics seated at a roundtable During the Workshop for CAOs in Their Third or Fourth Year of Service participants reviewed case studies with facilitators.

Richard Ekman and William Charles Deeds stand toether holding a framed award CIC President Richard Ekman presented the 2016 Chief Academic Officer Award to William Charles Deeds, provost of Morningside College (IA).

Richard Ekman and Beverly Daniel Tatum stand toether holding a framed award CIC honored Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College (GA), with the 2016 Chief Academic Leadership Award.

Pareena Lawrence and Stephany Schlachter stand together holding placques CIC presented awards for service to the CAO Institute Task Force to Pareena Lawrence, provost of Augustana College (IL) and task force chair for 2016–2017, and Stephany Schlachter, provost of Lewis University (IL).

Participants eating breakfast and sharing ideas at roundtables with designated topics Breakfast discussions provided informal opportunities for participants with similar interests to share information and ideas.


Nobel Laureate Highlights Most Effective Teaching Strategies for STEM Courses and Beyond

Carl E. Wieman presents from the podium
Carl E. Wieman

Could replacing undergraduate lectures with an evidence-based “active learning” style of teaching significantly improve learning outcomes? Research unequivocally says “yes.”

In his plenary address, “Demonstrating Improvements in Teaching,” Nobel prize-winning physicist Carl E. Wieman explored the cognitive science foundations of effective teaching strategies, the results of his research, and the implications for STEM education at colleges and universities. His research has led to a more precise way to evaluate the quality of teaching and learning in STEM fields and the social sciences, with findings that would help independent colleges and universities guide and track improvements in the quality of teaching in many other disciplines at their institutions. Wieman holds a joint appointment at Stanford University as a professor in the physics department and in the graduate school of education. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Education, he was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics and has received numerous honors and awards for his research and contributions to education.

Wieman began by explaining that in the past couple of decades, major advances in research have come together “to give a consistent and complementary picture about what’s needed to achieve high-level learning—thinking like a scientist, engineer, or historian—and how that learning develops.” The research originally focused on the sciences, but Wieman said, “Although we don’t have research from classroom studies in other fields, neuroscience and cognitive psychology give strong reason to believe that it applies to almost all other subjects…. And I want to emphasize that the goal isn’t to try to make all students into scientists, but to have them learn to use science and ways of thinking in science in order to make wiser decisions in relevant situations in their lives—for example in public policy debates. That is very different from having students try to memorize facts and procedures.”

Cognitive psychologists have conducted extensive research on how experts think across different disciplines and found a great deal of consistency, Wieman shared. Yes, experts know a lot about their subject, “but more importantly,” he said, “in every discipline there’s a unique mental organizational framework by which experts organize the knowledge in particular ways that allow them to be effective and efficient in solving problems.” Experts also reflect while working in the field, test if a solution is working, and change it accordingly.

Wieman emphasized, “No one is born with these general ways of expert thinking—they require many hours of intense practice to develop.” It could take a university professor more than 1,000 hours to master. He continued, “There’s a fundamental biological constraint. Learning to think like a scientist is not just about filling the brain with facts, but changing the wiring of the brain—changing the neuron connections.” He compared the process of rewiring the brain to building a muscle. “If you want to build it up, it takes a while. To develop necessary capabilities, the brain has to be exercised in just the right way” and feedback is needed to guide the learning.

Wieman said that an effective teacher using this method would be “the cognitive equivalent to a good athletic coach.” They would think about how to master the subject, break that down into specific skills, design suitable practice tasks for those skills, provide timely feedback as the learner practices them, and “motivate the learner to put in the intense effort that is required to achieve that kind of learning.”

Because it can be difficult to describe what active learning includes, Wieman wanted to emphasize what it is not. “It definitely is not hands-on learning, experiential learning, or flipped classroom…. Sending students off to do something with their hands doesn’t say what they will be doing with their minds. Those [activities] can embody the specific cognitive activities that are critical [to active learning], but there is nothing inherent in them that says they will, and frequently they don’t.”

Next, Wieman discussed how to apply this type of teaching (practice with feedback/active learning) in the classroom. In an example of teaching a large introductory physics course about basic electricity, students were given a targeted pre-class assignment on electric current and voltage so they would learn basic facts and terminology “without wasting class time”; a short online quiz followed to check their learning. The class then began with a question—(i.e. When a switch is closed, what will happen to bulb 2?). Every student answered by using a clicker, which could identify the student and their answer. Wieman emphasized, “The clicker itself doesn’t really contribute to learning, but it gives the instructor a quick sense of where the students’ mastery of the topic is. And most importantly, students have to commit to an answer with some level of accountability…. It gets them to think intently, differently, and primes them for subsequent learning.” The students then discuss the reasons for their answers with a cohort group and re-vote. Meanwhile, the instructor listens in on the conversations to discern whether students are thinking like scientists and then shows students the results. Finally, the instructor provides a summary and feedback on which models and reasoning were correct, which were incorrect, and why; students typically pose many questions. “Cognitive psychology shows that you gain some benefit by knowing right or wrong—but that real learning takes place when you learn why you were wrong, what aspects of your thinking were wrong, and how you can change it.” When students practice thinking like a scientist (applying knowledge, testing conceptual models, critiquing reasoning) and are given feedback, their learning improves significantly.

Scientific teaching consistently leads to greater learning in the classroom, Wieman says. “I have tracked down about 1,000 published studies that take various forms of this scientific teaching and compare it to the standard lecture approach. They consistently show this approach leads to better learning and lower failure rates…it benefits all students but disproportionally benefits at-risk students.”

Wieman said that a number of faculty members at Stanford have switched to this method of teaching in the last year. The university has seen “striking results in those classes—attendance is up dramatically across the board and student response has been overwhelmingly positive about these classes,” he said. “Interestingly…virtually all of the faculty see teaching this way as much more rewarding and don’t want to go back to teaching by lecture.”

“We have a peculiar situation: This method is clearly superior for students, and when faculty members invest the time needed to learn it they clearly prefer it. There are growing national calls to adopt this teaching, but…the norm is still to give lectures. To put this more graphically, we have a situation in which faculty are using the pedagogical equivalent of bloodletting when we have well-tested antibiotics sitting on the shelf. That faculty aren’t using it—and that you aren’t measuring whether they are using bloodletting or antibiotics in their teaching—speaks more to an institutional change issue.”

Wieman discussed the main barriers to adopting this scientific approach to teaching broadly. He said that the university incentive system often rewards research more than the quality of teaching and the “poor evaluation system for teaching tends to make it worse.” It’s also a problem of incentives for the institutions—a market failure, he said. “If students could see which institutions use good teaching methods instead of medieval teaching methods they could choose [wisely]. But they can’t find out.”

To change the situation and improve teaching, colleges and universities need a better way to evaluate teaching. He said typical student evaluations don’t necessarily correlate to learning or to the use of better teaching methods, but they do correlate with other factors not under the instructors’ control. “A better way to tackle it would be to take advantage of the research and make part of the evaluation measure what instructors are doing, how they are teaching, and to what extent they are using practices that have demonstrated to be more effective. If colleges use this as a measure, then it does correlate with learning and effective practices and is totally under the instructor’s control.”

Wieman co-developed the Teaching Practices Inventory, an instrument created to characterize the teaching practices used in undergraduate STEM courses, to do just that. Faculty members can complete the online survey in about ten minutes per course; eight categories cover all relevant aspects of what faculty members are doing in class. “Every department that uses the inventory is amazed when they see so much about how courses are taught... This can measure quality and show where there are opportunities for improvement, and it tracks when that improvement is made…. By collecting this data, institutions can internally evaluate and reward best practices and externally show they provide unique educational value. All institutions say they value [quality teaching], but there’s no data. Here’s a way to measure it and show what quality is compared to others… Then institutions can argue that they are moving toward 21st century teaching instead of trying to perfect 12th century education (like through typical student evaluations).”

Faculty members need support to make the switch to the scientific approach to teaching, however. Wieman says a typical faculty member will likely need about 50 hours to learn to teach this way, assuming it is in a subject in which they are already an expert. There are various ways to instruct faculty: In some cases, large departments have had science education specialists work with faculty to provide support; in other instances, a faculty member who is an expert at the approach is paired with an “apprentice” faculty member to transfer knowledge and expertise. Wieman said he also has seen good results on a less formal level—providing a little guidance to a few faculty members, pointing them to resources, and getting them together to watch each other’s lectures and discuss the approach. Wieman’s presentation slides list resources for pursuing the techniques further.

‘Campus Conversations about Race’ Session Emphasizes Importance of Campus Leadership and Dialogues

Beverly Daniel Tatum presents from the podium
Beverly Daniel Tatum

Revisiting the title question of her acclaimed book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” and Other Campus Conversations about Race (1997 and 2003), Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College (GA), examined how the current racial climate serves as a backdrop for student identity development and emphasized the importance of effective leadership and campus dialogues in creating a positive learning environment for all students. Prior to leading Spelman, Tatum served as acting president of Mount Holyoke College (MA), where she also held positions as dean of the college and vice president for student affairs, professor of psychology and education, and chair of the psychology department. She is a nationally recognized authority on racial issues in America and a licensed clinical psychologist.

Tatum began her address by setting the context for “what is happening on our campuses.” She noted that the Institute theme, “New Realities, New Solutions,” seemed “a perfect theme for what I want to speak about,” with the session taking place two days before the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.

She said that when people learn that she is preparing a 20th-anniversary edition release of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, they usually ask two questions: “Do they still sit together?” and “Are things getting better?” She replied that “Yes, they do still sit together;” and it is more complicated to evaluate whether things are getting better. “It depends on what you think ‘better’ looks like. What has changed for better or for worse in the past 20 years? What’s the implication for how we understand ourselves and each other in reference to our racial identities? And if we are dissatisfied with the way things are, what can we do to change it?”

Highlighting one clear change over the last 20 years Tatum said, “The people have changed in the sense of demography.” For instance, when she was born in 1954 the U.S. population was 90 percent white. In 2014, for the first time, the majority of K–12 students in the U.S. were children of color.

But she emphasized, “Although we can see demographic change, some things have not changed. Old patterns of segregation persist, especially in schools and neighborhoods. More than 60 years after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, public schools are more segregated today than they were in 1980...” due to Supreme Court decisions made since 1974. Students who attend schools in areas with concentrated poverty and racial segregation “are much more likely to have less experienced teachers, high levels of teacher turnover, inadequate facilities, and fewer classroom resources.” And she said, “for people of color, living in a hyper-segregated (extremely segregated) community increases their exposure to disadvantages associated with concentrated poverty, regardless of their own socioeconomic status…. Neighborhoods are gateways to opportunity. They are the gateways to quality education and employment.”

Those two problems—school segregation and neighborhood segregation—go a long way toward explaining why “black kids still sit together.” Tatum explained, “The social context in which students of color and white students enter academic environments together…is still a context in which their lived experiences are likely to have been quite different from one another and in which racial stereotyping is likely to be an inhibiting factor in their cross-group interaction.”

Regarding the second question, “Are things getting better?” Tatum said there has been positive, meaningful social change in our lifetimes, “but if we focus on the 20 years from1996 to 2016, we must acknowledge that there have been significant setbacks.” She cited three key setbacks that are the forming experiences of the current college student cohort: The anti-affirmative action backlash of the late 20th and early 21st centuries that has had significant impact on black, Hispanic, and Native American access to universities; the 2008 recession, which had a disproportionally disastrous effect on African American and Latino families; and the impact of the mass incarceration of African American men due to changes in drug sentencing laws and policies.

One thing that might suggest positive change in race relations in the last 20 years is the election of President Obama in 2008, Tatum stipulated. She recalled being at Spelman College with hundreds of students on election night and how the election was described as a transformational movement in which the U.S. was reborn and in which the politics of fear and division gave way to hope and inclusion. Soon after the 2008 election, however, she was asked to write a column about racist incidents occurring on campuses across the country that were perplexing news readers. Her theory was rooted in her understanding of psychology—that a shifting paradigm makes people insecure and generates anxiety. “We’ve seen the level of anxiety [in the U.S.] rise in the last eight years,” she said—not just because of the election of the nation’s first black president, but also because of such issues as the economic recession and post-9/11 security threats. “Each societal change represents a challenge to a set of assumptions. How do we deal with fear? We either withdraw or attack.” When people are afraid they think and act in terms of “us vs. them” and attack those outside the circle. “Such behavior can explain why there has been a sharp rise in hate groups and racial and ethnic hate crimes since 2008,” she said.

Regarding the myth of color blind millennials, Tatum said that in some ways “younger cohorts of whites were no more racially liberal in 2008 than they were in 1988. Why would they be? Americans continue to live in very different worlds.” She emphasized, “We are not living in a post-racial color blind society, but we might be living in a color silent society where we have learned to avoid talking about racial differences.”

Furthermore, Tatum re-emphasized, the sense of forward motion that many baby boomers feel has not been part of the lived reality of students who are now in their 20s. These students have seen the killing of unarmed black men by police in the news and it seems that black lives really don’t matter—even in the age of Obama.

Recent diversity and inclusion dilemmas on campus and across the nation bring us back to the fundamental question of what ‘better’ looks like. Tatum said, “We are living through a political season in which we hear politicians say things like, ‘We are taking America back.’ Back to what? Back from whom? What is their definition of ‘better’?”

Not wishing to leave session participants in despair, Tatum suggested positive ways CAOs can help students and noted examples that give her hope. “I want to make clear that what we say matters and leadership matters. The expectations and values of leaders can change the tone of the community and the nature of our conversation. Fundamentally, we know that human beings aren’t that different from other social animals…we follow the leader. Yes, we have an innate tendency to think in ‘us and them’ categories and we look to the leader to identify who the ‘us and them’ are. The leader can define who is in and out and draw the circle narrowly or widely. When the leader draws the circle in an exclusionary way with the rhetoric of hostility, the sense of threat among the followers is heightened; when rhetoric is expansive and inclusionary then the threat is reduced. It sounds simple, but it’s not—it requires courage and sometimes means we must speak up against strident voices.... But each of us has the opportunity to exercise that kind of leadership. And we must—think about that 2014 K–12 group of students 20 years from now.”

She also noted some advice that she has given to students who may feel overwhelmed or powerless: “You have more power than you think—everyone has a sphere of influence.… Your social network is broad, so use it.”

Tatum concluded by sharing developments that gave her hope over the last year: She watched a video statement by a student body president who spoke against racism and urged fellow students to act; she revisited two New Jersey townships that for over 20 years have successfully committed to remain inclusive; and she saw the success of a multiracial campus dialogue group in which students became deeply engaged.

“When we get it right, it makes a difference. Research shows that when schools and communities are truly integrated with real opportunities for students of different backgrounds to take the same classes, participate in clubs and sports together, and collaborate on projects, they make more friends across racial lines and express more positive views than other students do. As adults they are more likely to live and work in diverse settings, more likely to be civically engaged, and more likely to vote. In my view, that is what ‘better’ looks like.” And in answer to the question of whether “it is better” Tatum concluded: “Not yet, but it could be. It’s up to us to make sure that it will be.”

Phillips Details How Diversity Makes Us Smarter, Work Harder

Katherine W. Phillips presents while standing holding a microphone in front of a projector screen
Katherine W. Phillips

​The real value of diversity is not simply that people who are different contribute different information, it is that everyone changes their behavior when in the presence of diversity—they work harder. This was one of the central messages of the Institute’s plenary session, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter,” led by Katherine W. Phillips. Phillips is Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics and senior vice dean of Columbia University Business School. Previously, she was associate professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, and co-director and founder of Northwestern’s Center on the Science of Diversity.

Sharing the results of her research, Phillips discussed the ways in which diversity helps improve the performance of organizations and smaller work groups. She demonstrated how the inclusion of numerous perspectives in a group setting enhances creativity and spurs group members to work more tenaciously at presenting their own positions and anticipating alternatives. The results, applicable to students as well, are greater openness to new ideas and more carefully considered solutions to problems.

Phillips opened the session by sharing one of her favorite quotations: “It is hardly possible to overrate the value…of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar…. Such communication has always been, and is peculiarly in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress.” Although the quote was written by the philosopher John Stuart Mill in 1848, it is still relevant today. Phillips said, “When you put people together in connection with one another you are going to be dealing with issues of diversity. It is not new…it has been important and relevant forever, and it will be important and relevant forever to come.”

Phillips highlighted several university studies that have shown diversity is positively related to improved cognitive outcomes. For example, a national longitudinal study across 184 colleges and universities (published by the University of Michigan Press in 2004) found a consistently positive relationship between students’ diversity experiences and increased intellectual engagement and academic skills. A longitudinal study of 124 four-year colleges (published by the Journal of College Student Development in 2003) found that interaction across racial, national, religious, political, and philosophical lines is associated with gains in a range of learning outcomes, such as acquisition of intellectual, practical, technological, and social skills. And a meta-analysis compiling 58 effects across 77,029 undergraduate students (published by the Review of Educational Research in 2010) concluded that college experiences with diversity, especially interpersonal interactions across racial lines, are positively associated with cognitive development.

“I looked at this research and thought to myself, wow, the research on the value of diversity in educational environments is actually better than the research on the value in the organizational side,” Phillips remarked. “But research from the organizational side shows some of the same things—that you can get positive effects when you bring people together.” For instance, research on S&P 1500 firms (published in the Strategic Management Journal in 2012) has shown that placing more women in top management positions can lead to better financial outcomes, especially for innovative firms. And a study (published by the Academy of Management Journal in 2004) showed that increases in racial diversity can be positive for return on equity for innovation-focused banks.

When Phillips entered the field in the 1990s, most research on the value of diversity took a correlational approach and focused on negative aspects of diversity. Her research, however, takes a causational approach. She works “to understand what happens when you bring people together into a group to work together” and asks, “What does surface-level (race and gender) diversity do for us, and how does that interplay with what people bring to the table in their heads?” Her work examines how diversity provokes thought and how people learn from others. Through a series of research studies on group interaction she has concluded, “Empirical work shows that diversity can and does (under the right circumstances) lead to better performance and decision making in groups when relevant information has to be shared.”

When setting up experiments that need homogeneous and diverse groups, Phillips noted that it is difficult to recruit an exact mix of participants based on race (or other attributes). “But think of what we know about minimum group distinctions. We know people take even the most benign distinction to create ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups.” For example, there can be left-side-of-room and right-side-of-room or north-campus and south-campus in-group and out-group interactions. Those social categories become identities that can be used to make distinctions. Phillips also can create informational diversity by controlling what information certain people know and then observing whether they use that knowledge in group discussions. The main question she seeks to answer through these experiments is whether diverse groups outperform the homogeneous groups. The groups are given a specific task—for example to determine which one of four candidates should be hired for a position. In group performance, she said, the diverse groups tend to outperform the homogeneous groups. She noted, however, “There’s a direct disconnect. Performance suggests that the diverse groups are better [get more answers correct] than the homogeneous groups. But when you ask people about the experience they just had, diverse groups say it didn’t go as well [it wasn’t as effective] as the homogenous groups say, and diverse groups are less confident about their answers. In diverse environments people disagree with each other—that’s what you want. You want people with different perspectives to come to the table” and to share with and use the information in the group. Phillips said that the results of several studies showed that “everyone changes their behavior when they’re in a diverse environment. The homogeneous groups just don’t share the information as much even though they have it in their heads. In the diverse groups everybody works harder.”

She referenced a mock jury study conducted by Tufts University social psychologist Samuel Sommers on how jury deliberations are affected by the racial context of the case and the race of the trial participants. His research found that white jurors behave differently depending on whether they are in a homogeneous or a diverse environment. White jurors in diverse groups raised more case facts, had fewer factual inaccuracies, cited more missing evidence, and raised more race-​related issues. Phillips emphasized, “Behavior changes when we’re in diverse groups because we have different expectations about what should happen in diverse groups than in homogeneous groups. Diversity affects cognitive processing. We know that people do something different with their brains when they go into diverse environments than when they’re in homogeneous ones.”

One study Phillips conducted showed that even prior to interaction, people changed the way they thought about things. Before partners interacted with each other they were asked to write a message to explain their viewpoints. Those who thought they were writing to a partner who held a different viewpoint worked harder on the message—they thought about the issue more and wrote more complex messages.

A second study she conducted confirmed that people think harder about a problem when there is disagreement—not agreement—over an issue and that people in homogeneous groups had more pre-meeting elaboration—they were worried about their relationship with their fellow group member. “Homogeneity affects us, it influences our brains and influences the way we think. Diversity—difference—triggers in us an expectation that we should have different viewpoints and ways of thinking and that we have had different experiences. It affects the way we approach the interactions we’re going into and makes us work harder. Diversity is not about holding hands and singing ‘Kumbaya.’ The real value of diversity comes from the hard work that people do when they enter diverse environments.”

Phillips continued that although people work harder in diverse environments, people can be “cognitive misers—they don’t want to work that hard. But our job as educators is not just to make people feel comfortable. In fact, if I haven’t made you feel uncomfortable then I haven’t done my job.”

She drew an analogy comparing the work needed to achieve benefits from a gym with the work needed to achieve the benefits of diversity. A person can either go to the gym and stand there or go to the gym and use the machines. Merely standing in the gym will do nothing, but using the machines will strengthen muscles. “When you use your muscles you start to feel a twinge... You know when you get that pain you will benefit from doing the workout—your muscles will get stronger. It’s the same thing with diversity. You can put me in a diverse environment, and if I never talk to anyone I’m just there. But when I start interacting with people, talking to them, I might feel uncomfortable at some points…but [then I] will grow. Students will grow as a function of having that discomfort…. Diversity is something you have to decide to embrace and grow from.”

Phillips also pointed out that people sometimes need to gather in more homogeneous groups. She said that when someone asks her questions such as why a black business student association is needed at a business school or why Korean students are sitting together and speaking Korean at lunch time she responds, “We also know that homogeneity is beneficial to people, it’s useful. We need to be surrounded by people like ourselves as well. We need to have spaces and places we can go where we feel completely comfortable. So let the students be. They have been speaking English all day long…they need the support from people like themselves.”

“Diversity is a complicated thing,” she concluded. “There are real benefits from diversity that we can see from research, but it’s not easy and it’s something people have to work at constantly…. We have to work on [building relations across boundaries] all of the time to create the environments where people can thrive and find the balance they need to develop and learn.”

Best-Selling Author Explores How to Prepare Students for Life after College

Jeff Selingo presents beside a podium, gesturing with his hands
Jeffrey J. Selingo

​After publishing a book that criticized the traditional model of liberal arts education, plenary speaker Jeffrey J. Selingo has found that graduates of CIC-type institutions are in fact succeeding in their post-college careers. Selingo, a best-selling author, award-winning columnist, and former editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education, examined the difficult transition to post-college life for recent graduates; how new graduates can better market themselves to employers; and the skills that all students should develop before they graduate from college. Many of the themes he touched on are included in his newest book, There Is Life After College (2016), which explores how today’s young adults need to navigate college to prepare themselves for the job market of today and tomorrow.

Selingo said that parents, students, and counselors “focus too much time, effort, and money on getting into college, rather than on what happens in the four years after they get onto the college campus.” He explained that today, how a student goes to college and how a student launches after graduation are more important than where he or she goes to college. Students face a multitude of challenges once they graduate that previous generations simply did not. “The economy your students are entering into now is wide open, not well marked, and puts students in unfamiliar situations.” He argued that higher education has not changed enough over time to address the many changes in the marketplace today. “Too many colleges cling to old ways, and too many students lack the ability to navigate the system.” The pathway from college to career that was designed in colonial days and remains similar today “was never designed for millions of students, nor was it intended as the sole mechanism for getting a job.” It’s no surprise then, he said, that so many students struggle to enter the workforce. What’s more, “entire industries will expand and collapse, and many jobs will fundamentally change in the next two decades.”

“We need to rethink the concept of college and higher education in general and reevaluate what kind of education is needed after high school to succeed in society… We need to arm students with navigational charts” if they are to succeed, Selingo said. In conducting the research for his book, Selingo interviewed hundreds of students and employers including big and small retail companies, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. He learned from employers that they are seeking, and often not finding, graduates with “five key soft skills”: curiosity, creativity, contextual thinking, communications, and humility.

The need and desire for these soft skills was remarkably similar across occupations, Selingo remarked. “Communications, writing, problem solving, planning, and being detail-oriented came up over and over. Only one hard skill came up: Employers want employees well versed in Microsoft Excel.”

The problem is, he said, “our education system is too much like the workplace of old—focused on timeliness. Today’s workplace is unstructured with competing priorities—there is no scheduled ‘end’ of activities. Students aren’t prepared to navigate the ambiguity of the workplace…and they don’t know how to set priorities because someone else has done that for them (parents, teachers, syllabi) all of their lives.”

Transitioning from college to career is hard, Selingo emphasized, but more so for some rather than others. Students “launch” in one of three ways: as a sprinter (who is determined and launches directly into a career), as a wanderer (who takes his or her time and tends to drift through college), or as a straggler (who is indecisive and tends to delay getting into the workforce). Three factors determine which bucket a student lands in: the amount of debt accumulated, whether the student completed an internship, and whether the student received a credential. He explained, “The more debt accrued in college, the less flexibility a student has after college. Debt dictates what salary is needed, rules out internships, prevents a move to a pricy city where better jobs are located, and reduces the chances that a new graduate will start a business.”

“Internships, study abroad, and experiential learning” are all keys to success, but internships have become critical for recruiters today. “Employers use internships as a tryout period; it is a critical cog in the recruiting wheel of companies.” A study found that 79 percent of sprinters had completed an internship and 50 percent were employed in firms at which they interned. But the credential still matters. “The degree is the currency into the job market. Most stragglers didn’t complete a degree.”

Selingo offered three suggestions to help students better navigate the 21st-century job market:

  1. Ensure that students receive more opportunities and models for failure. “They don’t see the failures that others experience in life—only successes. They don’t see the detours we’ve all taken—they see only the end result. Colleges should bring in entrepreneurs to come to campus to talk about their failures and how they learned from them. Educators need to help students see failure as a way of learning.”

  2. Build an experiential learning component into the curriculum to help students learn how to balance the liberal arts and professional arts and how to transfer learning between skills and practice. Offer short courses and “just in time learning” to give students what they need to know in the moment.

  3. Provide students with more time to explore careers and passions. Build pathways to allow students to explore what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Parents should encourage their child to experience a gap year. “It is time well spent. Research shows that students who take a gap year before college graduate from college at the same rate as students who go straight to college.”

Selingo concluded that “students need to leave college with more than a piece of paper to succeed. How they go to college matters more, and today’s generation of graduates needs to learn to navigate the 21st-century job market. They will succeed if we give them the tools to do it.”

Campus-Public School Cooperation Highlighted in Yale National Initiative Session

Judith A. Muyskens presents from the podium with two co-presenters seated at the head table
The Yale National Initiative to Strengthen Teaching in Public Schools session featured (from left to right) James R. Vivian, director of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute; John A. Roush, president of Centre College (KY); and Judith A. Muyskens, provost at Nebraska Wesleyan University (NWU).

​“We all have to be intentional about teacher education,” stipulated John A. Roush, president of Centre College (KY), when opening a session focused on campus cooperation with public schools. At Centre, Roush explained, faculty members are expected to conduct relevant research and dedicate themselves to the college in service; “but we value teaching most.” Faculty members are evaluated annually, and major or minor merits cannot be earned without stellar teaching assessments. Roush also has opened the campus to both high school teachers and their students to participate in activities or use space. “You have to work hard to create a culture of teaching, and you have to be clear about expectations,” he emphasized.

James R. Vivian, director of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, introduced session participants to the highly successful and replicable model of cooperation between Yale University and the New Haven Public Schools that has strengthened teaching and learning, especially in low-performing public schools. Public school teachers, encouraged and mentored by experienced colleagues who act as Institute representatives and school contacts, apply to become fellows for a year-long program. The program consists of Yale faculty members’ participation in a cooperatively developed intensive seminar on a subject in the arts, humanities, and sciences. The seminar is designed to boost preparation for the courses or curriculum areas fellows teach and to help them develop a curriculum unit through which they will introduce new subject matter from the seminar into their own teaching. To date, the Yale initiative has resulted in 188 seminars in the humanities and 106 in the sciences. Fellows effectively become members of the Yale faculty community for the year, with borrowing privileges at libraries and access to other campus resources. “Throughout the Institute process, school teachers are treated as professionals,” Vivian summarized the approach. And upon successful completion of the program, fellows receive a stipend of $1,500, may petition for certification of their course of study, and receive credit by prior arrangement in a degree program.

Vivian highlighted the results of assessment studies conducted since the inception of the Institute in 1978. (The National Endowment for the Humanities initially funded the Institute for 15 years. Since then, the Institute has attracted broad foundation and local corporation support, and in 1990 it became the first such program to be permanently endowed as a unit of a university.) The assessment studies reveal that Institute participation has increased teachers’ preparation in their disciplines, raised their morale, and heightened their expectations of their students. Perhaps most importantly, participation encouraged them to remain as teachers in New Haven and significantly improved their students’ performance. In fact, as Vivian pointed out, participants are “twice as likely to remain teachers.”

Vivian encouraged session participants to take advantage of resources available online, including the curricula developed during seminars, and to consider partnering with the Yale Institute to create outlets all over the country, following examples in Delaware and Philadelphia and under development in a number of additional regions. “American public schools would greatly benefit from a Teachers Institute in every city,” and colleges and universities would be noticeably enriched, Vivian emphasized.

While enthusiastically supportive of Vivian’s work, Judith A. Muyskens, provost at Nebraska Wesleyan University (NWU), pointed out that cooperation between campuses and public schools also can make an impact by using a “more humble” approach, as she characterized it. In NWU’s hometown of Lincoln, Muyskens said “students of the 57 schools in the public school system speak 52 languages natively; you can imagine the challenges their teachers face.” Focusing on one elementary and middle school in a transitional housing neighborhood, Muyskens has created a multitude of interactions: NWU students serve as tutors, organize sporting events, and help pack backpacks for the weekend; faculty and administrators serve as commencement speakers at the schools; and school teachers and students are invited to special events. “To keep momentum going and building,” Muyskens said, “the key has been to appoint one NWU staff member as a liaison to each school.” NWU also is cooperating with the school system and a local community college in a career academy for aspiring teachers: “Our goal is to diversify the teaching staff and to train our own.”

Session participants agreed that there are endless opportunities for college campuses and local schools to cooperate. For example, the chemistry faculty and students at Old Dominion University (VA) regularly put on chemistry magic shows in classrooms in their community to intensify interest in a too often unbeloved subject as well as to spark the ambition of one day pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the university.

For CAOs, Building Relationships on Data Is Key to Change

Three panelists present from the head table
Adam Weinberg, president of Denison University (OH), Katie Conboy, provost and senior vice president of Simmons College (MA), and David W. Strauss, principal of Art & Science Group, discussed the changing roles of the CAO.

​Most American universities and colleges created provostships during and after World War II, when the G.I. Bill led to the expansion of undergraduate classes, and the complexity of higher education suggested establishing a second-in-command role under the president and adopting a more hierarchical governing structure. Long gone though are the times when perhaps the main responsibility of a CAO was fostering the intellectual interactions across the campus.

“CAOs need to figure out what gets an institution into the game and what keeps it there,” stipulated David W. Strauss, principal at the Art & Science Group, in the session, The Changing Role of the Chief Academic Officer. He continued, “Academic and strategic planning needs to show promise to get the institution ahead.” In that sense, the CAO today is the key player on campus in helping a college or university react to dramatic shifts in student demographics, technology, economic pressures, public perception and values, and higher education markets. “It’s a high-stakes game,” Strauss said, and aligning the academic experience to generate the enrollment, net revenue, and philanthropic support the institution needs to thrive is an enormous task and challenge.

So how can CAOs lead a process of building an institution’s value proposition from the inside out and positioning the campus in a way that resonates with the market? Both Adam Weinberg, president of Denison University (OH), and Katie Conboy, provost and senior vice president of Simmons College (MA), agreed that campus-wide conversations about institutional strategic shifts should be solidly grounded in a clear sense of an institution’s market appeal. Strauss exemplified that studies of inquiring students and admitted applicants not only reveal whether these audiences, for example, prefer an open, individualized, or structured curriculum; they also indicate the intensity of changes that are marketplace promising. Data for an anonymous institution, for example, suggested that only an “extraordinary” emphasis on a global perspective curriculum increased the appeal; just an “elevated” or “modest” emphasis, perhaps counterintuitively, made the institution significantly less appealing than no mention of global perspective in the assessment of the polled potential students.

Concerning process, the sociologist Weinberg described how he initially created an anthropological map of the influencers on campus. He then started to talk strategically, while informally, with as many influencers as possible about his vision for Denison, grounded in the data on where the institution needed to go to be competitive and thrive. He also reorganized the provost’s office to provide the occupant (who would have to continue the conversations internally much more so than he would as the president and assure the advancement of decisions through the governance structure) with enough time to focus on strategic matters. “We need to actively and aggressively reserve time for strategic work,” Weinberg noted, “otherwise every last minute of the schedule will be filled up with urgent matters.”

Conboy shared that when she realized that her job from the get go was to redesign Simmons’s curriculum for competitive distinctiveness framed around leadership, launch an online nurse practitioner program, create a master’s degree in social work, end the MBA program for women, and other strategic tasks, she sometimes thought: “I am a PhD in English, I have no training for this!” But Conboy said she quickly realized that she would not, in fact could not, do any of this by herself, and certainly not in a shared governance environment. She then realized that the key preparation for significant strategic institutional change was to create strong relationships all across campus. By doing so, Conboy emphasized, one creates allies as social capital that can create their own compelling narratives to drive an idea and plan forward. “Key is,” she said, “to spend a lot of time early on with those on campus deemed to be the most difficult or critical.”

Weinberg agreed with Conboy, and returned to the initial point that “especially with sceptics it is imperative to have collected empirical data people can believe in.” He also thought it important “to give people an opportunity to work things out and to get the boat to shore.” Alternatively, in Conboy’s words: “You can try to talk so much about your plan that at some point people are so tired of hearing about it that they beg you just to announce it.”

Panelists Discuss Protocols for Developing and Discontinuing Academic Programs

word cloud projected on a screen A word cloud developed after a real-time poll during an Institute session captured how participants feel about the topic of discontinuing programs.

​Anxiety. Stress. Conflicted. Sick. Fearful. Defeated. Happy. These are just some of the responses to a live, text-message poll of participants who were contemplating academic program changes in an Institute session, Models for Developing and Discontinuing Academic Programs. It was a candid beginning to an insightful session led by Dennis Leighton, associate provost for student success, University of New England (ME); Chad A. Pulver, vice president for academic affairs, Saint Joseph’s College (IN); and Jane M. Wood, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, Mount Marty College (SD).

In his opening remarks, Pulver outlined the session’s goal of creating a framework for developing or discontinuing academic programs, emphasizing that, during a time of change, leaders in academic affairs are positioned to help prepare people on campus for how they are going to move forward and to create a common language that promotes inclusion and sharing of concepts and ideals that address institutional needs.

Pulver added that program decisions are felt beyond campus. “We are the leading employer of Jasper County,” Pulver said of Saint Joseph’s College. “If something impacts us, it impacts the whole county, the city, and the region. Seventy percent of our students come from the region.”

The panelists identified processes and protocols that helped their institutions address changes to academic programs. All three models included identification of campus needs that affirmed the institution’s mission as well as the relevance of programs; a timeline to guide the process; and the means for managing dialogue effectively, whether that be a written form for the campus community to submit ideas or a series of town hall meetings. The presenters agreed that having a clearly defined process was essential; if an institution’s process for developing and discontinuing academic programs appears to be weak or poorly defined, the panelists recommended that leaders “tighten up” the process before addressing other needs.

To ensure that proposed changes can move forward, CAOs should establish a timeline that addresses not only the implementation date, but also the schedules of key stakeholders, such as the board of trustees, faculty members, and accreditors, whose approval may be required for making changes to programs. In some cases, institutional bylaws specify at which meetings boards may vote on academic programs. And if the faculty is only available nine months of the year, the dates for key decisions, such as hiring new faculty members, must fit within the academic calendar. CAOs also should include time for review, stakeholder responses, and refinement within the process, panelists noted, to enable healthy recruiting, orchestration of campus offices (such as marketing, admissions, and IT), and program enrollment. Most likely, the timeline will span 12 to18 months, but institutions that draw on outside expertise for feasibility and marketing studies may need more time.

The presenters recommended that the process include program review following implementation at specified intervals and that exit strategies also be included as part of the plan. If a program isn’t providing the desired results in three years, what will the institution do? Will new faculty members and students be able to move to other programs within the institution? An articulated exit strategy will ensure that a program designed to enhance the institution does not, instead, saddle it with a failed idea that is not only unsustainable, but also becomes a drain on resources that could better support other programs.

Finally, CAOs should be transparent with the facts. Wood, who was given the goal of significantly reducing the academic budget at a previous institution, shared an analysis of salaries with the campus community, addressing both administrative and faculty pay. She noted that seeing the financial information was important for faculty members to understand the need and the vision for a plan. Other panelists agreed and pointed to an institution’s chief financial officer as an extremely helpful partner in communicating financial information to the campus, by helping the community understand budgets and financial pressures on the institution.

When the plan involves reducing programs, working closely with faculty members to prioritize programs can not only provide an open process, but also reveal how resources may be shifted to jump-start new programs. The group further recommended that academic leaders prepare for the unique dynamics of the terminal year. Will faculty members remain? Will adjunct faculty members be required? Will students need additional assistance to move between programs? Again, presenters emphasized the importance of planning, dialogue, and comprehensive timelines for change, while at the same time concluding, in Wood’s summary, that modifications to academic programs are “how colleges define what is essential about learning to live ‘a good life’ within the realities of life in the 21st century.”

GLCA Alumni Study Shows Long-Term Impact of Liberal Arts Education

Carolyn Newton presents from the podium with three co-presenters seated at the head table
The Long-Term Impact of Liberal Arts Education featured panelists Carolyn R. Newton, provost of the College of Wooster (OH), Rick Detweiler, president of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (MI), Ron Cole, provost and dean of Allegheny College (PA), and (not pictured) Joseph Klesner, provost of Kenyon College (OH), as well as session chair Irma Becerra, provost and chief academic officer of St. Thomas University (FL).

​What difference does a liberal arts education make in the ways alumni live their lives two, three, even four decades after graduation? Rick Detweiler, president of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), together with Joseph Klesner, provost of Kenyon College (OH), and Carolyn Newton, provost of the College of Wooster (OH), shared findings from the GLCA Alumni Study and discussed the implications. This is the first study of its kind to match students’ experiences with alumni outcomes on matters central to a liberal arts education.

To prepare for the study, Detweiler read hundreds of articles and books on the liberal arts, interviewed hundreds of faculty members, and compiled a list of 225 statements about what a liberal arts education encompasses. Detweiler explained the five attributes of a liberal arts education that have solidified over the millennia. Such an education should:

  1. Be broad, diverse, and include the humanities, literature, and science;
  2. Help students develop intellectual habits and skills such as reasoning and critical thinking;
  3. Encourage the development of larger perspectives and sensibilities so that students can see the world from a variety of viewpoints;
  4. Include certain methods of instruction and engaging pedagogy; and
  5. Be an education community that is personal and involving and in which people work and live together.

Given these attributes, Detweiler said the GLCA study sought to answer the key question, “What outcomes from such an education should we be interested in?” The study design included interviews of 1,000 college graduates who graduated ten, 20, and 30 years ago. It asked alumni about experiences and behaviors while in college, including so-called “high impact practices” such as how frequently they talked to faculty members outside of class about academic and nonacademic matters, and whether they were involved in clubs and community service. The study also asked about their experiences as adults, such as what they do for a living, how often people come to them for advice, and whether they mentor people, vote, volunteer, and donate to charities.

In addition to interviewing alumni, the study examined the mission statements of 238 undergraduate colleges that were sorted into a subset of categories such as citizenship, community service, active engagement in the world, solving problems, making choices about a life of values and happiness, and becoming effective and successful leaders. He indicated that 12 percent of the statements focused on being successful, and only 1 percent focused on developing a broad understanding of humanity’s cultural achievements.

The GLCA findings showed that “students who were strongly engaged in the educational community during college were more likely to be in a leadership role in life,” Detweiler stated. “Of those who were actively involved in clubs, activities, and classes unrelated to their major during college, more than half said they donate to charities, vote, and volunteer.” He said that a broad liberal arts education enabled personal success. “While the income of liberal arts graduates in their first job was lower than that of business and engineering majors, for example, as liberal arts alumni progressed, the likelihood increased that they would have incomes greater than $100,000.” Business and engineering majors enjoyed higher entry-level salaries, but their income did not increase as much over their lifetime and they were less likely to have graduate degrees.

The study suggests some broad implications for educational priorities, Detweiler said. For example:

  • Department chairs should encourage students to take more courses outside of their major and ensure the best faculty members are teaching lower-level courses;
  • Administrators should hire faculty members who are more focused on spending time with students than on research;
  • Students should be encouraged to engage in the college community by joining clubs and taking on extracurricular activities; and
  • Physical spaces on campus should be rearranged to encourage informal interactions.

Newton responded that Wooster does provide opportunities for both academic and nonacademic interactions between faculty members and students. It is important, she said, that colleges provide incentives for faculty members who go above and beyond the classroom. “We need to recognize, incentivize, and reward faculty for doing this work, so we have criteria for faculty evaluations on teaching, scholarship, research, and their general value to the college…. We need to provide feedback and showcase effective faculty members and share good practices.”

Klesner said the “treasure trove of data and findings…can help us as CAOs in guiding decisions at our institutions.” He emphasized the need to convey the information and messages to prospective students and families (that a liberal arts education is a long-term investment), to current students (who need to recognize the richness of offerings and the virtue of breadth in education), and to boards of trustees, alumni, and donors. “We need to align mission, interest, and messaging” and discern which parts of the survey results will “resonate with various constituents and how best we can pass the messages along.”

Sessions Highlight Faculty Composition Trends and Recruitment Challenges

​Diversity was a theme that ran through the 2016 Institute for Chief Academic Officers, from Beverly Daniel Tatum’s plenary address that updated her classic work, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race, to Katherine W. Phillips’s exploration of How Diversity Makes Us Smarter, and to the lively discussions that followed these and many other sessions. Highlights from two concurrent sessions that examined diversity and faculty work force issues follow.

Faculty Composition

Anne Ollen presents from the podium holding a book Anne Ollen, senior director of the TIAA Institute, opened the session on faculty workforce trends.

Twenty years ago, about 60 percent of the faculty members at four-year private colleges and universities were full-time and about 40 percent were part-time. Today, those percentages are reversed. That was the first important finding reported by a panel of researchers in a well-attended session, Faculty Workforce Trends. The research, published in scholarly papers and a book, The Faculty Factor (2016), was supported by the TIAA Institute. The session panelists included Anne Ollen, senior director of the TIAA Institute; and TIAA Institute fellows Finkelstein, professor of education leadership, management, and policy at Seton Hall University and co-author of The Faculty Factor; and Gregg Kvistad, provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Denver (CO).

Faculty satisfaction and attitudes toward the profession have trended negatively overall, although faculty at four-year private institutions are still “at the top of the heap,” according to Finkelstein. Hours per week spent in committee and meeting work have increased, while the percentage of faculty members who feel strongly involved in decision making has decreased, and the percentage of those who say they are at odds with the administration has risen markedly at four-year private institutions. Over the past six years, the percentage of faculty members who say that they want to be a college professor has dropped somewhat, although it is still up over a ten-year period, and again faculty members at four-year private institutions consistently say this more so than faculty members at other types of institutions.

On the upside, according to the panelists, the professional conditions for part-time faculty are not nearly as dire as they often are portrayed in the media. For example, half of adjunct faculty members have household incomes of $75,000 or more, and nearly 80 percent teach entirely at a single institution—challenging the common stereotype of the “freeway flyer.” Moreover, part-time faculty members enjoy teaching and interacting with students, and 40 percent are very satisfied with their work. Although 69 percent of tenure-track faculty say they are very satisfied, the difference from adjunct faculty members is not as great as one might expect: Virtually the same percentage of part-time as full-time faculty members would recommend an academic career to others. Overall, part-time faculty in the liberal arts disciplines are less satisfied than those in professional fields.

The presenters shared with the 75 participants some key insights relevant to their work on CIC campuses. First, the environment has improved enough in the years since the 2007–2009 recession to allow college leaders to be strategic about shaping the faculty workforce. Decisions about tenure-track or alternative appointments should be based on data, Finkelstein said. There is a need and an opportunity to re-envision the faculty, though as Finkelstein pointed out, “one part of being strategic is to differentiate: Some faculty positions may need to remain as they are, while others may need to change or go away.” It is critical to engage the faculty in discussions about workforce trends, and there may be an increasing openness to doing so. Some faculty members welcome such options as dual-track systems, in which they can choose a multi-year “professional track” contract as an alternative to the tenure track. There is little doubt, however, that the full-time tenure-track appointment is no longer the norm in the faculty workforce.

The data on the trend toward gender equity in tenured and tenure-track positions also brought good news. In 1993, the ratio of male to female faculty members in tenured positions was more than three to one; by 2013, the ratio was down to less than two to one. In tenure-track positions, the ratio is now nearly even, and the absolute number of female full professors has tripled. This is true for both public and private higher education.

For faculty members in underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, the news is mixed. Although there has been significant progress—the ratio of white to racial minority tenured faculty decreased by nearly half over the two decades of data—the pace of change has not matched the demographic changes in the student population. Among tenure-track faculty, white faculty members still outnumber minority faculty members by six to one, and among tenured faculty, the ratio is about ten to one. Private colleges lag somewhat behind public institutions in racial and ethnic diversity.

Faculty Recruitment and Retention

Five panelists present from the head table
The session on recruiting diverse faculty featured moderator Madison Sowell, provost of Southern Virginia University, and panelists Marcheta Evans, provost and vice president for academic affairs of Our Lady of the Lake University (TX); Leanne M. Neilson, provost and vice president for academic affairs of California Lutheran University; Julian Schuster, provost, senior vice president, and chief operating officer of Webster University; and Kathryn A. Morris, provost and vice president for academic affairs of Butler University (IN).

In the session, Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Faculty, four provosts—Marcheta Evans of Our Lady of the Lake University (TX), Kathryn A. Morris of Butler University (IN), Leanne M. Neilson of California Lutheran University, and Julian Schuster of Webster University (MO)—shared strategies and highlighted a few lessons learned:

  • Diversity is situational. Evans noted that while approximately 85 percent of all faculty members at her institution are people of color, she still needs to be mindful of issues such as whether all the faculty in the education department are women or whether the culture of each academic department is inclusive.
  • Procedures intended to increase faculty diversity may not work unless the president and CAO emphasize the goal with search committees. Despite a guideline requiring every search to include a finalist of color, many committees were still choosing as finalists only white candidates. According to Neilson, the leadership enlisted an expert consultant to help white faculty members understand the search experience from the perspective of people of color and train equity advocates from all racial and ethnic groups to help change the institutional culture.
  • Faculty members of color may find interdisciplinary positions especially appealing. Morris works with search committees to develop position descriptions that either include teaching in more than one discipline or that offer opportunities to teach interdisciplinary courses.

Effective recruitment practices that arose from the discussion included:

  • Educate students of color about faculty search processes and have them share student perspectives with search committees;
  • Reach out to graduate programs with diverse students for candidates; consider appointing graduate ​students, then helping them to complete their dissertations with reduced teaching loads;
  • Educate the board about the importance of faculty diversity to the educational experiences of students; and
  • Make job descriptions compelling and inviting to people of color by including courses that focus on issues such as race, ethnicity, and class, in the job description or by including interdisciplinary courses among those to be taught.

Equally important to hiring a diverse faculty is retaining them. Panelists and participants listed several suggestions for CAOs:

  • Make sure the institution works toward creating an environment that is comfortable for diverse faculty members—hire others from the same groups, iron out any particular problems of gaining tenure and promotion, and include diversity and inclusion issues in the curriculum;
  • Have dinners with affinity groups to hear about their experiences on campus;
  • Solicit feedback from candidates of color about their search process experiences and use what you learn to implement change in the process;
  • Give faculty members who serve as mentors and sponsors of African American, Hispanic, female, international, LBGTQ, and other students and faculty members credit toward service for tenure and promotion;
  • Give faculty members opportunities to move from diversity to inclusion to engagement with issues of difference. Make helping faculty engage issues of difference essential elements of the strategic plan;
  • Be conscious of your own language and actions as well as the representation of all groups in publications;
  • Form coalitions with other smaller colleges to build affinity groups that support women and people of color;
  • Educate white faculty members to be allies for change;
  • Give a diversity advocate on search committees the power to veto candidates; and
  • Work with the community to makes services available to diverse people—services such as restaurants and grocery stores, medical specialties, and hair salons.

And finally, institutions need to be persistent about doing all of the above consistently.