California community colleges comprise the largest system of higher education in the United States, educating approximately 2.4 million students. As the largest system of higher education teaching one of the most diverse groups of students, the California Community Colleges must ensure that the student population sees itself represented by the community college faculty. By and large, the current faculty population does not adequately represent the students in terms of race and ethnicity; thus, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) made a focus on faculty diversification, particularly the racial and ethnic composition of the faculty ranks, one of our primary priorities for 2018-19. Faculty diversification is an ongoing topic that must be prioritized for at least the next five years in order to affect change in a way that is more visible and representative of the system’s student demographics.
Our colleges can do better to reflect the diversity of the community served by the faculty ranks. The work of the ASCCC Executive Committee this year, alongside our system partners, has been to re-evaluate EEO requirements, engage faculty in professional development regarding implicit bias, evaluate the systemic biases inherent in the bureaucracy at the state and local levels, and evaluate hiring processes. Historically, colleges in the CCC system have spent the most time discussing and refining the first faculty minimum qualification involving degrees and industry experience. The challenge that the system must take now and into the future is to systemically pay attention to the second minimum qualification for all faculty: Must have sensitivity to and understanding of the diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural, disability, and ethnic backgrounds of community college students.
With that qualification in mind, academic senates now have the opportunity to re-examine faculty hiring policies and procedures, including reconsidering hiring committee appointment processes, modeling job announcements that have a lens for diversity and inclusion, and re-evaluating the way in which questions for interviews are written. For example, colleges may ask whether the faculty appointed to a hiring committee are from diverse backgrounds, representing the college community, or are simply the remaining faculty in a discipline. A focus on only the former does not balance the two co-equal minimum requirements. We do not mean to suggest that colleges should diminish the discipline expertise on committees, but rather that they might seek ways to add diversity as needed by supplementing the membership or through other methods. Hiring committees can also consider whether it’s really necessary to demand three years of California community college teaching experience in order for a candidate to be selected for a first level interview. The adjunct pool in the community colleges is even less diverse than the full-time faculty, so colleges may ask whether they should continue to insist upon making their main selections for interviews from that pool of candidates.
A focus on increasing the diversity among all faculty also serves the purpose of increasing the diversity of faculty leadership locally and, ultimately, at the state level. This goal drives much of the ASCCC’s advocacy for more full-time faculty and programs such as the “grow our own” program in the Board of Governors’ budget request. However, we can do more beyond advocating for improved diversity in the ranks of faculty leadership. While many problems were present with the methodology of the Campaign for College Opportunity’s report Left Out, the narrative it provides is that community college faculty are much less diverse than their students, with faculty leadership even less so, and this notion is widely accepted in the political arena. This seems most urgent when examining LatinX representation.
We cannot point to the system without looking at our own internal processes and identifying where we also fall short in these efforts. The ASCCC Executive Committee remains purposefully engaged in conversation around ways in which we can improve our appointment process so that it leads to more leadership opportunities for faculty. In spring 2018, the ASCCC reached out to our caucuses and to other organizations and groups that include diverse faculty in the system such as the Puente and Umoja communities and tailored our messages to each to encourage faculty to submit applications for statewide service. In addition, in June 2018 we engaged the committee selection recommendations with equity and broad inclusion in mind. As a check, at the August Executive Committee meeting at which appointments to standing committees are approved as an action item, we compiled a list of the diversity of the applicant pool and the diversity of those appointed to committees. Those results are summarized in the table below and appear to show that our efforts, while not perfect, do at least reflect the diversity of our pool and are much better than those cited by the Campaign for College Opportunity.
|Applicant Pool %
For all other committee appointments, the president and executive director are responsible for ensuring appropriate faculty representation. We continue to seek out diverse faculty for our pool and consider the breadth of views, backgrounds, and lived experiences in our selections. We have dedicated resources to improve our outreach to groups that have diverse faculty in an effort to build relationships and inspire more faculty to serve in leadership and governance both locally and at the system level.
These steps may seem small, but, as local senates consider the biases, culture, and climate of colleges for faculty of color, we as the ASCCC are also engaging in those considerations. We encourage all senates to prioritize this work for the 2019-2020 academic year and to start planning now to create a safe space to engage in this dialog with other stakeholders at the college.
If your college would like to request a local senate visit, go to asccc.org and select Services.