Faculty Equity Office gets green light to reorganize

By Diane Ainsworth, Public Affairs


charles henry

Charles Henry
Peg Skorpinski photo

02 May 2001 | As part of its continuing efforts to diversify the Berkeley faculty, the Faculty Equity Associate Office, led by Charles Henry, will expand its operation and fold some of the affirmative action responsibilities conducted by other offices under its wing.

The office — a branch of Academic Affairs and Faculty Welfare designed to develop and oversee policies on minority and women faculty recruitment and retention — will also change its name to the Office for Faculty Equity Services in the 2001-02 fiscal year.

Henry, who will step down June 30 to resume full-time teaching in African-American Studies, was part of a task force offering recommendations in a new report to the chancellor for redesigning and elevating the office. His replacement, whose responsibilities will be elevated to the associate vice provost level, will be named at that time.

The associate vice provost should be developing and overseeing the campus’s academic affirmative action plan, Henry recommends.

“That responsibility, as well as other affirmative action compliance responsibilities, is currently divided among three offices, which makes it difficult for the campus to develop and implement a cohesive, proactive plan for strengthening minority and female opportunities,” Henry said.

In addition to elevating the equity associate position to the associate vice provost level, Henry urged that an expanded staff begin to monitor all faculty recruitment search committees and start new diversity outreach and training programs. One suggestion is that departmental affirmative action officers, deans and chairs take a mandatory fall workshop on recruitment. A more thorough effort should also be made to collect and evaluate data on hiring, promotion and tenure practices, he said.

“With more staff and new resources, we will be able to carry out these tasks and provide a valuable service to faculty,” he said, while working with other campus offices with affirmative action responsibilities.

The Faculty Equity Associate Office was created to help Berkeley attract more minority and women faculty in the aftermath of Proposition 209, which was passed by voters in 1996 and prohibits the use of race, ethnicity and gender as criteria for hiring or admission by any state body. The fallout from the abolishment of Proposition 209 was the elimination of Berkeley’s “target of opportunity” program, Henry said. New campus hires of underrepresented minority faculty have dropped 50 percent since Proposition 209, and new hires of women faculty have dropped by a third.

Prior to that legislation, during the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s, roughly 75 to 85 percent of minority hires came through the target of opportunity program, and Berkeley enjoyed a relatively diverse faculty.

“If an excellent minority candidate emerged, the target of opportunity practice allowed Berkeley to fund a new departmental position specifically to bring that candidate on board,” he said. “We are no longer able to do that.”

The percentage of junior to senior faculty hires was skewed in the late 1990s as well, Henry said, because increased senior hiring in the mid-to-late 1990s resulted from an increase in retirements.

“Because the pool of minorities and women is greater at the junior level than at the senior level, they weren’t in the pipeline, so our hiring of minorities and women dropped off,” Henry said. “Now there’s a concerted effort to get back to a more normal ratio of roughly 20 percent senior hires to 80 percent junior hires.”

The proposed Office for Faculty Equity Services will strive to make inroads in those hiring ratios.

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