Records show SCSU has low minority student enrollment
Andreas Yilma and Katherine Krajcik – Special to the Southern News
Diversity has become an increasing characteristic for university populations in this country referred to as a melting pot. In the fall semester of 2014, out of 10,825 students, only 3,175 of them were considered to be a minority according to the Office of Information Technology. When it comes to the teaching faculty, 20 percent of full time professors and 15 percent of part time professors are the minority.
School officials from Student Affairs and the Minority Retention Committee know it is important to have a racially diverse faculty and student body, but they have struggled from time to time in making it as diverse as possible.
Marianne Kennedy Ph.D. is the associate vice president for academic student affairs. She affirms that diversity is one of the university’s core values.
“The more diverse the institution…the better learning experience everyone will have.” said Kennedy.
Kennedy believes the institution’s diversity has a lot to do with Connecticut’s demographics. A large majority of the full time undergraduate and graduate students came from within this state.
According to the Office of Institutional Research, 6,680 students originated from Connecticut in 2013. The next highest that year was 141 students who came from New York. United States Census Bureau shows that whites make up 81.6 percent of the Connecticut population in 2013.
The campus is trying to make up for this through emphasizing on diversity when hiring faculty. Diane Mazza, who is the Chief Human Resource Officer, believes the university does as much as they can to produce diversity with the help of the Office of Diversity and Equity.
“There are many diverse publications that we would advertise for as well as diversifying our search committees,” said Dianne Mazza.
“In reality sometimes it’s very difficult to hire the people that we want, even if we can get them to apply,” said Kennedy “Sometimes our salaries are not competitive.”
The Minority and Retention Committee has played a pivotal role behind the scenes when it comes to supporting the recruitment and retention of minority faculty as well.
According to their mission statement located on the university’s website, “With members of the committee appointed by President Dr. Mary Papazian and working in conjunction with the Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employment Office, the committee endeavors to make itself available in any way it can to achieve the university’s goal of recruiting and retaining minority faculty.”
Doris Marino, the Co-Chair of the committee said, “We offer funding twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. The funding can be anywhere from $500 to $2000 in a particular situation.”
Conducting research, traveling to a conference, or helping move a potential faculty member from another location so they can obtain a teaching position on campus are all examples of situations where funds are requested.
Marino explained that professors who present their research at conferences usually like to do so twice or three times a year, but sometimes the senate faculty only has enough money to grant them to go to one conference.
“For them to be able to apply for a second conference through us…it has been very beneficial,” said Marino.
“The committee has been here as long as we’ve had a union contract and we’ve had various years where we’re active or not as active,” said Marino. “But in the past 10 years especially, we have offered to work with departments while they are recruiting because we want to help them look in various nontraditional places where they can find minority faculty.”
Marino feels that they have somewhat helped the increase of minorities in these ways, but she said, “Have we done an excellent job with recruiting at professional conferences? No.”
Photo Credit: Southernct.edu