The Gustavian Weekly

Faculty search aims to bring diversity to campus | The Gustavian Weekly

By Tram Bui News Editor | February 22, 2013 | News

The Office of the Provost has recently announced an initiative to bring more diversity to campus by way of introducing a Bruce Gray Post-Doctoral Fellowship position to the College.

This particular position is not an entirely new concept to campus.

“Back in the 1990s, we had a grant foundation that funded initiative for a pre-doctoral minority faculty member. In fact, as I recall, I Am We Are, sort of grew out of faculty interactions with one of the people who was here with that position,” Provost and Dean of the College Mark Braun said.

“Years later, people would ask me why we didn’t have the position anymore. It was greatly due to divisions in internal and external funding,” Braun said.

“One little piece of the diversity curriculum became this Bruce Gray Post-Doctoral Fellowship. We thought of Bruce Grey, who wrote Black and Bold, in thinking of the position. He did so much for bringing us forward and bringing student diversity to campus,” Braun said.

The Bruce Gray Post-Doctoral fellow will take on a reduced teaching load and will also likely spend time working with the Diversity Center and the Kendall Center for Engaged Learning. The position was also changed from pre-doctoral to post-doctoral position because the deans wanted to allow for candidates to devote full-time attention to the position, and the complexities and nature of dissertation work did not allow for that.

“Students will have the chance to take courses in the post doctoral faculty fellow’s area of research which will likely expand student’s course offerings. It won’t affect existing faculty except insofar as they will have a new junior colleague to talk about teaching and scholarship with,” Associate Provost and Dean of Art and Humanities Paula O’ Loughlin said.

The group decided it was best to augment an existing group that would help the community to build and strengthen campus diversity. Gustavus Adolphus College is a member of the Consortium for Faculty Diversity in Liberal Arts Colleges (CFD), an association dedicated to strengthening the diversity of students, faculty members, and curricular offerings at liberal arts colleges. They also aim to maximize the educational benefits of diversity and encourage professors to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of students. Other members of the CFD include Macalester College, Oberlin College, Vassar College, and Carleton College.

“We have a blueprint and curriculum for diversity that really lays out specifically what our plan is,” Braun said.

The blueprint outlines strategic goals that encompass the beliefs that diversity is everyone’s responsibility, Gustavus is an inclusive and welcoming community, and support for diversity is part of our institutional history and mission.

“This is one piece of a larger constellation of diversity initiatives that we’re working on in the Provost Office that we really have a sincere interest in trying to create a more diverse Gustavus campus.  The importance of growth and maturation is to encounter people who are different than themselves,” Associate Provost Darrin Good said.

“It’s a priority of mine and the [academic] deans to further our strategic goals to increase the diversity of the faculty and the multicultural aspects of the curriculum,” Braun said.

“They’ll help us as a community to learn more from beyond classroom teaching. In turn, hopefully they’ll learn what it’s like to be a part of a liberal arts community,” Braun said.

In the late 1990s, about 4 percent of faculty came from underrepresented racial groups. Currently, the campus has about 15 percent of faculty who come from an underrepresented minority group.

The deans hope that the new Bruce Gray Post-Doctoral Fellowship position will be filled by the 2013-14 academic year. They also hope that the position will move from department to department in ensuing years in accordance to individual department needs.

“We hope the [efforts of diversifying campus] are twofold. It gives us a chance to bring in someone from an underrepresented group, but it also gives us the chance to mentor that person and hopefully help them see what a wonderful thing it is to teach at a liberal arts school,” Braun said.

“For me, having grown up in a small, not diverse town, and then attending [Augustana] college, I encountered a world of diversity that better represented the world. It was a culture shock at first, but it was also entirely impactful in helping me understand the world,” Good said.

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