Stanford’s professoriate faculty slowly diversifies

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As Vice Provost for Faculty Development, Diversity and Engagement, C. Matthew Snipp has been actively involved in efforts to recruit diverse faculty members. But it hasn’t always been easy as the University competes with peer institutions to win over prospective instructors. 

“We’re recruiting from a relatively small pool,” Snipp said. “We pursue the people who are the best in the world at what they do.” 

Snipp is not alone in recognizing the hurdles of developing a more diverse faculty. Former Special Assistant to the Provost for Faculty Diversity and founding director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity Albert Camarillo said that hiring a diverse faculty is not a challenge unique to Stanford, but rather is one that every university in the United States faces. 

“The most difficult thing, the most exasperating thing, the most frustrating thing for me in all of my years was the ability to make significant progress in the hiring of faculty of color,” said Camarillo of his 45 years at Stanford. 

Stanford has taken steps to both diversify faculty as well as increase diversity in the faculty pipeline, according to University spokesperson Dee Mostofi. Mostofi added that while more work needs to be done, the University is “making progress to achieve our goals for a diverse, equitable and inclusive future.” 

Members of the group of Who’s Teaching Us — a student group advocating for ethnic studies and faculty diversity — did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Snipp said that a variety of factors, including some that Stanford doesn’t have control over, can sway potential faculty members. For example, Palo Alto doesn’t have as prolific an arts scene as Los Angeles or New York does. 

In addition, the “houses and spouses” issue can pose additional hurdles, according to Snipp. He explained that high rent in the area prevents people from having their ideal homes, and prospective faculty members’ spouses could also be looking for employment. 

Snipp recognizes the importance of building a diverse faculty at Stanford. In addition to providing greater learning opportunities, according to Snipp, research has shown that more diverse organizations have better outcomes

“The institutions that are going to be most successful in the future are the institutions who are successful in diversifying their faculty,” Snipp said. 

Camarillo believes that a diverse faculty is foundational to carrying out core missions of a university: to produce knowledge and educate young citizens. 

“Shouldn’t a university be about helping to create a better society? Shouldn’t we train every one of you to be better equipped to help change that society?” he asked. “We need more faculty to help.” 

In March, Provost Persis Drell announced the first cohort of IDEAL Fellows, who will join the campus community for three years as part of university-wide efforts to increase research and teaching related to race and ethnicity at the university. 

In addition, Stanford is searching for 10 scholars and researchers as part of a cluster-hire initiative announced in June. At least half will be junior faculty, such as assistant professors, and the new faculty members’ work will “involve the effects of race on society in disciplines” according to Mostofi. 

The University also has other programs — such as the Faculty Incentive Fund and Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence Doctoral Fellowship Program — that help promote a more inclusive University community, Mostofi wrote. 

In this article, The Daily looks at the change in the demographic breakdown and number of Stanford faculty over the last decade. Since 2010, the faculty has slowly been getting more diverse.

The data in this article refers to public professoriate faculty data which can be found on the University’s IDEAL Dashboard linked here. Stanford affiliates can access a more detailed version of this data, which is not available to the public, with their SUID. Professoriate faculty include all members with appointments as Tenure Line faculty, which include Assistant Professors, Associate Professor and Professor roles; Non-Tenure Line faculty; Medical Center Line faculty; positions within designated policy centers and institutes; Senior Fellows and Center Fellows.

Since the 2011-12 academic year, Stanford has increased its total professoriate faculty count by at least 20 annually. This year is the first time since then that the University has gone under this threshold: There was a slight increase of four faculty members this year, from 2275 to 2279. Last spring, University leaders announced a salary freeze and hiring pause to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Despite increasing net assets by $2.2 billion last fiscal year, Stanford officials said the institution continues to face ongoing financial challenges.

The School of Medicine employs nearly half of all professoriate faculty this year, the School of Humanities and Sciences employs about a quarter, the School of Engineering employs 12.04% and Graduate School of Business employs 5.2%. While the number of faculty in each school has remained relatively constant in the past decade, the School of Medicine experienced a significant uptick of 58 faculty between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.

Slightly less than one-third of current professoriate faculty are female. However, this is an improvement from 10 years ago, when only 26.3% of the 1900 members were female.

Less than 2% of current professoriate faculty identify as Black/African American, while the overwhelming majority — 66.8% — are white. In the 2010-2011 academic year, 78% were white. Since that year, the percentages of Hispanic/Latino and Asian faculty members have increased from 3% to 5% and 16% to 19%, respectively. However, the number of Black/African American professoriate faculty has decreased from 49 to 45 over the past decade.

The Medical Center Line refers to the professoriate line of faculty who engage in clinical care, teaching and scholarship at Stanford Medicine. 

The number of tenured faculty has increased by 18.6% in the last decade, and approximately 53.8% of faculty are tenured this academic year. Lecturers — who are not considered part of departmental professoriate but rather academic staff — have previously expressed concerns about their job security amid the pandemic as they lack direct representation in the Faculty Senate and Academic Council. 

While the demographics of professoriate faculty have not significantly changed this academic year, the future remains uncertain as the pandemic continues to cause financial strain. 

Approximately 2,100 students are expected to enroll in the class of 2025 — 1,700 as normal and almost 400 who chose to take a gap year this year — which may require an increase in academic staffing for first-year courses. The University declined to comment on the effects of the pandemic and increased incoming class on the hiring of faculty.

This article has been updated to clarify that it only references data which has been made public by the University.

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Anna Milstein ’23 is a desk editor for Vol. 259 Academic News and a Staff Writer. Contact her at amilstein ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.