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A Strategic Plan for Campus Diversity

Posted November 17, 1999

When the word "diversity" and the name "Berkeley" appear together in the news, the focus -- more often than not -- is the newest freshman class. A recent headline in the Oakland Tribune, "UC Faculty is Lacking in Diversity," highlighted a less talked about aspect of the issue.

Who is on staff, and who holds decision-making power, is another. So are campus climate, whether those who come to campus interact in meaningful ways, and whether they choose to stay.

To address campus diversity in all its manifestations, Chancellor Berdahl has initiated a strategic planning process not unlike -- in ambition or deliberateness -- that used to address other types of institutional challenges.

"Education is the process of encountering that which we are not, that which is unfamiliar, and that which we do not know," said Berdahl. "Out of an encounter with others -- be they other students, or faculty, or staff from different backgrounds and interests -- comes new understanding. That is why Berkeley's progress in achieving and assuring diversity in all aspects of our campus community must remain a major priority."

The Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Diversity welcomes input concerning campus diversity -- including practices that have proven effective for campus departments or other institutions.
Charles Henry.
Initial work will be done by the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Diversity, which met for the first time last week. The high-level think tank, chaired by Michael Nacht, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy, is charged with developing long and short-term strategies to sustain and promote diversity on campus.

Since the demise of affirmative action, says Faculty Equity Associate Charles Henry, professor of African- American studies and staff to the committee, Berkeley has had no central plan, goals or regular assessments on campus diversity. "We were being reactive," Henry says. "We want to be more proactive on a wide gamut of issues related to diversity."

Six professors will participate, along with two students, campus and community K-12 administrators, a member of the Berkeley Foundation and a UC Regent.

"Especially since we're now constrained by state law," said committee chairman Michael Nacht, "we need to find ways to pursue diversity in the absence of affirmative action."

The committee, he said, will look for "methods that we are not applying that might be useful," to enhance faculty, staff and graduate student diversity. Its report and recommendations are due by the end of the 1999-2000 academic year.

Faculty Diversity

The new advisory committee is an outgrowth of dialogue last March between Henry, Berdahl and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ, who met to look at faculty hiring statistics before and after the loss of affirmative action tools.

A significant drop in new hires of underrepresented minority faculty "gave us real concern," recalls Christ. "In the changed environment, we are looking at what are the appropriate steps the campus can take."

As faculty equity associate, Henry reviews all faculty search, tenure, promotion and merit increase procedures to ensure that federal affirmative action mandates -- which take precedent over state law -- are followed.

From the mid-'80s to the mid-'90s, he says, "roughly 75 to 85 percent of minority hires came through target of opportunity. If an excellent minority candidate emerged," target of opportunity allowed the administration to fund an additional departmental position for the candidate.

The UC Regents Resolutions SP1 and 2, followed by the statewide ballot initiative Proposition 209, did away with target of opportunity and other state affirmative action practices used to attract and retain minority and women faculty. "Without target of opportunity," says Henry, "there has to be a perfect match" between the candidate's academic specialty and the area of expertise sought by the department.

New campus hires of underrepresented minority faculty dropped 50 percent since 209, he says; new hires of women faculty dropped by a third.

As of October, 1999, Berkeley's 1,479 ladder-rank faculty included 1,140 men and 339 women. By ethnicity, they were 84 percent non-minority, 9.4 percent Asian, 2.9 percent black, 3.2 percent Hispanic and 0.6 percent American Indian.

Campus departments currently rely largely on outreach and advertising to attract a diverse group of faculty applicants. And as "the leading public institution," Henry notes, Berkeley is often competing in that process with top private schools that "don't have the same constraints."

Student Diversity

Berkeley's undergraduate admission figures, pre- and post-affirmative action, are relatively well known: in spring 1998, the first admission cycle after Prop 209 went into effect, underrepresented minority admissions dropped more than half, to 10.4 percent of new students.

This fall -- after vigorous outreach efforts and a fine-tuning of the admission process -- underrepresented students make up about 14 percent of the new undergraduate class, still significantly less than under affirmative action.

Outreach designed to encourage underrepresented undergraduates to apply to Berkeley and, once admitted, to enroll, is "the one focused activity, at least in the eyes of the university's attorneys, that is permissible under 209," said Bob Laird, who retired this week as director of undergraduate admissions.

"The university, with a lot of funding from the legislature over the last year and a half" has also launched new long-term outreach programs and expanded current ones across the state, Laird noted.

The committee will look at issues like outreach and how students finance their educations.

Of the 31,011 graduate students enrolled at Berkeley in fall 1998, 51 percent were male. By ethnicity, they were: 36.7 percent white, 34 percent Asian-American, 9.7 percent Hispanic, 4.6 percent African American, and .84 percent American Indian. (International students and those for whom ethnicity was unknown were the remaining 13.5 percent.)

Staff Diversity

As of March 31, 1999, Berkeley's non-academic career staff work force of 6,568 was 59.6 percent female and 40.4 percent male. By ethnicity, the breakdown was 56.9 percent white, 16.8 percent Asian, 14.9 percent black, 10.3 percent Hispanic and 1.1 percent American Indian.

"Looking at the statistics," says Sandra Haire, the assistant vice chancellor for human resources, "we need to work harder" to bring more women and minorities into higher management and technical positions.

Of 426 managers and senior professionals, 58.5 percent were male and 41.5 percent female; by ethnicity, the breakdown was 78.2 percent white, 12.2 percent Asian, 5.2 percent black, 4.2 percent Hispanic and 0.2 percent American Indian. Among 35 senior managers, 85.7 were white and 82.9 percent male.

Haire is enthusiastic about the current diversity initiative. With a short- and long-range plan in place, she says, "we'd be able to get the resources that we need" for targeted recruitment and for training and other programs designed to retain employees and promote from within.

Diversity in the workforce makes for a stronger institution, Haire believes. "You can take advantage of the different perspectives that different cultural groups bring to an organization, or the different thinking of men and women, or different thinking of gays and lesbians....

"With different perspectives advising you on how to manage people, you have a more civil and much more effective work environment," Haire says. "People are going to work at their most effective level when they feel that they are valued."

Statistics on campus staff and faculty are available online. For staff, see; for students and staff, both academic and non-academic, see


RELATED STORY: Improving Outreach



November 17 - 23, 1999 (Volume 28, Number 15)
Copyright 1999, The Regents of the University of California.
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Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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