Faculty Senate talks lack of diversity, solutions

Corryn Brock, News Editor

Eastern’s Faculty Senate discussed Eastern’s Quality Initiative Proposal, “Diversifying Eastern Faculty and Staff for Student Success” during its meeting Tuesday afternoon. 

The primary goal of the plan is to increase diversity of faculty and staff at Eastern “by increasing the racial diversity of Eastern’s faculty and staff to levels that are representative of the increasing racial diversity in our student population.”

Eastern currently has the least diversity of employees among public universities in Illinois, however, the university has seen an increase in diversity over the last 15 years.  In 2005 the university had 10.5% of students from underrepresented groups an 31.5% in Fall 2019.

According to a draft of the plan for the quality initiative, “Though the student demographics have been changing, the faculty and staff populations have remained predominantly White, creating a growing racial gap between students and those who serve them. This increasing disparity creates an urgent need for the institution to take more aggressive action to create an organization that, both in spirit and in visible presence of people of color in positions of power, reflect our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity.”

The plan focuses on the recruitment, hiring and retention of diverse faculty and staff.

Each part of the plan has individual tasks under it highlighting what exactly needs to happen in those categories.

Recruitment will have a focus on Eastern’s reputation as an employer, enhancing Eastern’s online reputation (the website and LinkedIn), planning for searches that will diversify and advertising.

The hiring aspect of the draft discussed the ways that people are hired in specific fields at Eastern.

The retention and campus climate aspect will focus on contract negotiations, professional developmental practices and the campus climate.

The committee also heard from Eastern Vice President of University Advancement Ken Wetstein and chair of the Naming Committee Angie Campbell on how the committee has been dealing with its task of making a recommendation on whether or not to rename Douglas Hall.

The two explained the process the committee goes through to make a recommendation and shared with the senate that an all-faculty forum on the topic will be held Wednesday at 3 p.m. virtually.

Those interested in attending should reach out to Faculty Senate Chair and Naming Committee member Don Holly for information to attend the meeting via Zoom.

This will be the third of seven forums that focus on collecting feedback on the potential name change.

 

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]