This came in as a comment. It presented such compelling insight into the way decisions are made in the "tower" that it deserved "post" status. The UA Defender again calls for world-class leadership for our world-class institution. The situation described below illustrates that we are not getting such leadership from Shelton/Hay. This posting has been modified to reflect Garcia's correction that the $436,000 was taken from the Diverse Faculty Initiative in spring 2008 to fund gen. ed. courses scheduled for fall 2008, not spring 2008.
This past weekend the U of A celebrated Hispanic Heritage day. To do so the administration paraded out folkloric Mexican dancers and mariachis onto the football field to symbolize their commitment to diversity and the Hispanic community. The president’s office also continues to spew out data that shows increases in “minority” enrollment, which is meant to convince us that they are committed to progress in this arena. But numbers without substance are meaningless. That is indeed the case when it comes to this administration’s record on diversity.
Let me describe the most recent series of events that illustrates the lack of substance and commitment to diversity by the U of A central administration, despite their continued propaganda. In 2007-2008 the President initiated the Diverse Faculty Initiative as a way to increase the number of women in STEM fields and faculty from underrepresented groups. He allocated $1 million for the Initiative. In spring 2008, Meredith Hay used over $436,000 from the $1 million allocated for this Initiative to fund fall 2008 classes. At the time of this action, the central administration was holding on to $16 million in over realized tuition, which they could have used to fund additional seats in general education. Instead they took from the poor.
When Shelton funded this Initiative he assigned me to administer it, so you can imagine my surprise when Hay took $436 K from this fund without notifying me. In 2008-2009 the Initiative was again funded by Shelton. During the spring of 2009, he was asked by members of the Diversity Coalition and the community advisory groups on diversity what effect the budget cuts would have on the funding for the Diverse Faculty Initiative. He responded that it was in the most difficult of times when our values were truly tested, and that his commitment to the Initiative and diversity remained unchanged. In meetings held in the spring of 2009 with these groups he again touted the importance of this Initiative and said, in effect, that he wanted me, Juan Garcia, to come to him at the end of the year and inform him that he has “overspent” on the million dollars allocated for this program. After a meeting with the African American Advisory Committee he spoke to me outside the Ventana Room and asked me to “get on the backs of the deans” to identify and recruit more minority faculty. I informed him that I was doing that very thing and that we had some outstanding possibilities developing.
In response to my call for more colleges to take advantage of the Initiative, I received proposals from several units in SBS asking for funding to recruit faculty that they had identified. The units did due diligence and conducted their respective searches according to the guidelines and procedures established by their college and the university. The end result was that six faculty were identified, 5 of whom were from underrepresented groups (2 African Americans, 1 Hispanic, 2 Asians, and one STEM faculty. All six of these faculty are women. To hire these stellar women to the U of A meant that we would need an additional $350,700 per year of bridge funding using the Diverse Faculty Initiative. Under normal circumstance I would have written MOUs to each of the units approving the hires because the dean in SBS agreed to pick up their salaries using permanent funds once the temporary funding from the Initiative ended. However, when all of this was occurring I was in the midst of being non-renewed, so I wrote a memo to Shelton detailing the faculty recruited and the funding required. I wanted to make certain that these obligations to the SBS departments were not lost in the transition following my non-renewal by Shelton. Shelton did not deign to respond to my memo. Instead Meredith Hay inserted herself into this matter and summarily decreed that we had “no funds” to support these hires. She then added insult to injury by declaring that I had “overspent” the funds allocated, and that I had no standing to do so. To this I say “yes I did overspend the amount allocated” because that's what Shelton told the advisory groups he wanted me to do.
When the heads that had recruited these faculty learned that the funding for these hires was not forthcoming, they were, and remain, enraged and betrayed. In June, the SBS heads and director formulated a proposal that would not have involved any funding from the Strategic Initiative for AY 2009-10. The only financial commitment would have been $30K for spring 2010, to bring on the tenured associate professor, who was willing to come at a reduced FTE for the semester. The other five women were willing to wait until AY 2010-11 to start at the university if they had contracts. The heads met with Meredith to discuss the matter, and again Hay characteristically proved intractable.
The plan set forth by the heads had the support of Beth Mitchneck, Interim Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Joaquín Ruiz, Executive Dean of the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science, of which SBS is a part. Beth and Joaquín said they would work with the heads and director to find the $30,000 for the associate professor’s spring 2010 salary.
This meant that no funding would be needed from the Strategic Initiative until AY 2010-11, when $104,000 was available. In addition, the SBS heads and director said they would ask for only two years of salary support (for AY 2010-11 and AY 2011-12) instead of the usual three years provided by the Strategic Initiative. At this point, the provost presented to Ruiz and Mitchneck another reason for not hiring the six candidates: she said the former SBS dean, Ed Donnerstein, had overcommitted the college's funds for faculty hires, and the college was in deficit. Therefore, the college could not afford to take over the salaries for the six diversity hires at the end of the three-year funding period. The provost refused to approve the hires.
Hay’s transparent lack of commitment to integrity and diversity was no surprise. But for Shelton to abdicate his responsibilities in this matter and allow Hay to completely derail all of the effort and good faith that had gone into recruiting these faculty is both unconscionable and irresponsible. In essence, the departments, SBS, and the faculty being recruited had met the standards and requirements of the Initiative guidelines. There is nothing in the guidelines that allows the Provost to deny Initiative funding after all of the requirements have been met by units under this Initiative.
Even if you do not agree with diversity initiatives, the fact is that this action by the Provost and President is unacceptable for the following reasons:
- It will damage the credibility of the U of A nationally in recruiting any faculty because the commitment to hire faculty will be questioned by applicants. It will make our university appear as a second-rate university that does not honor its commitments.
- The failure of the administration in fulfilling its commitments further erodes the trust of the academic community on campus.
- It again penalizes the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences by denying them even the most meager of resources to improve on the quality and number of their diverse faculty.
- It is unmitigated and demeaning micro-managing on the part of the Provost in the affairs of SBS and other colleges.
- It contradicts Shelton’s pledge to the community advisory committees on diversity. This has the potential to again alienate this important constituency and undo all of the work that has taken place to win their trust and support.
As for the advisory groups—they must not allow this breach of trust on the part of Shelton and Hay to go unchallenged. The pledge to hire more diverse faculty was made to them personally by Shelton. Demand that he live up to his promise. The argument that they do not have the funds to approve these hires is specious and untrue.
For example, in August 2009, the Provost announced that the university would allocate $12 million to promote the hiring of excellent faculty in environmental studies and translational medicine. She also announced an allocation of $300,000 to promote scholarship among faculty in Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences (three of the four units in the newly formed Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science). What this indicates – in light of the 7% budget cuts allocated to Fine Arts, Humanities, and SBS – is that there is a massive centralization of resources, with reallocation of funds to favored colleges and fields. In short, the cuts are financing a massive expansion of resources in the sciences and medicine. Meanwhile, despite the continual press releases and president’s statements about the UA’s commitment to diversity, the university has refused to fund six faculty candidates in SBS with excellent research agendas, all of whom are women and five of who are members of ethnic minorities.
Furthermore at a Team Provost meeting earlier last spring Gene Sander, Dean of Agriculture and VP for Outreach, was bemoaning the loss of faculty at the U of A. Meredith stated that this is the time we should be out recruiting the best faculty possible, to which Gene responded how could we when there was a hiring freeze and the budget situation was dire. Hay replied, just go out and find them and we will find the money to hire them. Well, a group of heads has done that—so where is the money, Provost Hay?
Finally, someone has just put together the statistics and data on the U of A's record in terms of hiring women and faculty from under-represented groups. They are abysmal. I will ascertain whether they can be placed on this site, so that you may come to your own conclusions. (They have been. Please see below.)
I challenge the community advisory groups to demand what was promised to them by Shelton with great fanfare. And do not forget what happened under this administration last spring when they (Vito and Hay especially) dismantled the cultural centers, despite your concerns and protests. Do not continue to be misled by data shoveled out by the central administration or by the hollow rhetoric and promises of Shelton.
So let’s go back to the symbolic meaning of Hispanic dancers and mariachis on the football field last Saturday evening. In light of this administration’s actions regarding the cultural centers, the Diverse Faculty Initiative, and the almost complete absence of members from underrepresented groups on Team Provost and the president’s cabinet, it is not surprising that they have compartmentalized their commitment to diversity in terms of celebrations--although I do not see much to celebrate about. As long as this administration continues to rely on numbers rather than substance, it may keep their shallow demonstrations of inclusion that are paraded out annually in colorful costumes to entertain and amuse them. It once again demonstrates to me the utter lack of understanding and appreciation of how groups from diverse and different backgrounds have come together to shape who and what we are. A world-class leadership would have tapped into that deep reserve of knowledge and talent. The current administration continues to demonstrate through their actions that they are second rate when it comes to leadership.
Juan R. García