Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month....... How Committed to Diversity are the President and Provost?

[The EBH team represents and defends diversity at the UA. The following post examines the gap between promises made by the current administration on "diversity", and its track record.]

Robert Shelton makes much of his devotion to diversity on campus and of his relationship with various under-represented groups at the UA. Recently, he has made a lot of noise about this year's freshman class being the most diverse in the history of the UA However, let's take a look at his actions rather than his words:

Considering that Tucson is over 40% Hispanic, where is the Hispanic leadership at the highest level of this administration? There is Joel Valdez, who has done much good for the UA and for the Tucson community, but he is near retirement and much less willing to fight the good fight than he has been in the past. Who can blame him? Shelton publicly, and many think recklessly, fired his only other high ranking administrator when V.P. Juan Garcia was asked to resign via email by Shelton for the "tone" of a response he emailed to Provost Hay. That firing may come back to haunt Shelton and Hay. Besides Valdez, there is no high ranking Hispanic in"the tower," and "team Provost" --Hay's leadership team-- is lilly white. In fact, Hay has shown absolutely no interest in understanding the diverse Tucson community. She has repeatedly refused or ignored invitations from these groups. The campus is restless and the Garcia firing is one of the sparks that may ignite the Shelton/Hay reign. Many people on campus will be pleased to know that Garcia has filed multiple complaints against President Shelton and Provost Hay for discrimination and other charges. It will be interesting indeed to see how these grievances are resolved and what the reaction of the Board of Regents might be. it is also interesting to note that Garcia is one of the few people on this campus willing to stand up publicly against the administration.

Shelton has crowed recently and frequently about the diversity of this year's freshman class. However, the resources put in place to help students from under-represented groups to navigate the UA have been removed. As noted in an earlier post, the Cultural Centers have been left unfunded, University College, which served more Arizona Assurance scholars, more scholars from under-represented groups and the neediest students, has been dissolved. With it went the experienced advising that kept many, many of these students on track for graduation. The Financial Aid Office has lost its most experienced staff, and students who most desperately need help are left without. Furthermore, extremely large classes mean that students have little contact with professors when studies tell us that relationships with teachers do more to assure student success than almost any other factor. With classes in the hundreds, who has time to build relationships with students and how many 18-year-old teenagers will be brave enough to approach a professor themselves? In particular, how many first generation 18-year-olds from a minority culture will approach a usually Anglo professor? Without resources, a lot of the students from this freshman class face a very difficult road ahead. Many of them will not survive the first semester and many more of them will not graduate.

Remember too that the UA is up for NCA accreditation review and we were slammed 10 years ago about a lack of diversity in the faculty ranks. It's worse now. We've have actually slid backwards in this regard under the Shelton administration.
So, we ask, what does Shelton and the UA have to be proud of in regard to serving diversity in this state?
Evelyn B. Hall


  1. The statement in your last paragraph that we have slid backwards in faculty diversity during President Shelton's term is not true with respect to tenure track underrepresented minorities.

    That said, only 3 colleges have shown a meaningful increase in underrepresented minority faculty numbers over the last 10 years: Education, Humanities and Medicine.

    Were these colleges rewarded for their performance? Were the other colleges sanctioned for theirs?

  2. The first anonymous posting here is wrong... data shows after a year of freezing hires that we are in fact going back inthis regard... of course the tricky issue of who is "true" minority emerges as well... but be it as it may the UA has not register a sgnificant jump in minority and in particular Latina/o faculty (that can equal the regional 40%) during the last oh say 100 years.... yes we have more students but less faculty and in particular LESS FACULTY IN THE ADMIN SYSTEM... WHICH IS REALLY A SHAME AT A R1 UNIV LOCATED IN THE SW... don;t you think...

  3. anonymous 2 yes he did but then later Hay play the card game and after firing Garcia, the money became part of a legend... in fact 2 weeks ago Shelton had the balls to say that the 1 million dollars was still "committed" to this purpose when many people know that Hay used to enchance Burd's absurd project, the undergraduate beefing of science majors....
    another shameful result of Shelton's lack of leadership and clear ignorance of local histories....

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Anonymous 3 -- I hear what you're saying, and I don't mean to pick on you, but your post is a good example as to how we all need to be careful about how we quote and use statistics. If I understand your post correctly (apologies if I don't), you are suggesting that because the area in which the University is located is comprised of a population which is 40% Latina/o, we should therefore have closer to 40% of the faculty/administration at the UA be Latina/o? If that's your argument, then we really need to look at the pool of potential faculty members who are Latina/o, not the entire Tucson-area community. In other words, if we look only at people with a Ph.D. (or terminal degree), I wonder what % are Latina/o. (I don't know the answer.)

  6. CL, ok, let me clarify, we are celebrating publically that our student population is getting more and more diverse... and we are using data/numbers/percentages to show that.
    Some folks argue that the student population should reflect the local demographics... or at least be closer to those numbers... (25-35%) some even argue that by increasing this effort to better reflect the local demographics we should try to become a Hispanic serving institution and capitalize on the benefits from such a status (a federal designation that carries with it particular funding from the US Dept of Education)- my point was that despite the increases in minority student numbers, the faculty ranks have not reflected such a increase (look at the faculty in the college of science for instance). On the contrary, the numbers of minority faculty have remained the same or have decreased (again depending on how you define "minority faculty"). The issue is that if we claim to be such diverse institution, efforts to diversify the faculty should also be part of larger investment strategy by the institution. Diversity is not free. It does cost money to bring qualified minority faculty to Tucson, in particular African Americans who many times do not find a receptive and friendly environment on and off campus...
    By the way, what happened to the million dollars that Shelton claimed was going to be used to hire minority faculty?

  7. well, well, I guess this is not such an important topic anymore huh?
    or did it become subsumed under the "a million for Juan" discussion...?

    that million could help augment the diminishing numbers of "Latina/o" faculty 5.7% of which perhaps roughly 2.5 % maybe Mexican Americans...

    Btw, does anyone know what the new "special assistant for diversity" (recently appointed by shelton) will be doing since she does not come from the faculty ranks...?

  8. I just saw an email through the Association for Women Faculty listserv that folks are thinking the "diversity" money will be available again this year, and that President Shelton (and Raji, the diversity coordinator) are saying it is. I can't say how infuriating that is to those of us who have already applied for it (for 2010-11) and been denied.

  9. well it sounds like if the provost's office is again playing poker with these funds... what worries me is that she may cut somebody else to come up with the 400k "borrowed" last year... in the meantime as LB said rumor has it that the money will be available (this has been filtering in other fora) and that shelton is firmly committed to this, yet hay's office has been mute on the subject...
    so as far as I know the admin is just playing lip service to diversity... and no significant investment is being made...

  10. heck, I feel like the token person of color here... holaaaa help... Juan et al what' up?

    ok, fine, I;ve just heard from my stillchicanaandproud source that shelton is ready to dialogue with the "community" (whatever that means) and that he is willing to meet with "them" (community) soon... now the issue is, will the 1 million for Juan be part of the conversation? can the "community" get a firm, public commitment from shelton about concrete investments on diversity and not only on the cultural center, but also an investment on recruiting more US Latina/o faculty and not only South Americans and Spanish folks with green cards...? (no offense to these folks, but they tend to inflate the "minority ranks" big time...)
    that remains to be seen but another factor seems to be the fact that other influential members of the community have been working on lobbying key politicos seem to be working... now whether shelton will produce results is another matter... but heck, isn't that part of his job?


  11. To Chicana y que: I am back. I have been in Chicago dealing with another thorny issue--Mexican immigrants and police-community relations. I see that Shelton and Hay, through their spin doctors in Media Relations, are at it again. Boo-hoo, poor us. Nobody understands us and the hard decisions we have to make. We do understand --we are not pendejos. The fact is that these hard times have been exacerbated by your style of leadership and your obfuscation of what you are really doing.
    LB is right about the diversity fund. They should be enraged at the continued refusal by this administration to live up to their rhetoric about diversity. The response Shelton sent to LB about this matter is embarrassing and incomprehensible. More double speak--probably the result of a poor liberal arts education. As to the upcoming meeting with the community--I don't expect much to happen given this administration's record to date. Shelton will continue to stall, take notes, and try to reassure us of his commitment. As to Hay--who knows where she will be, and really, who cares? Juan R. Garcia

  12. ok Juan got ya' loud and clear, but now the question is what can WE do...? how can we push back? how can we make sure that "they" don't do more damage that it's been done?
    I want answers and ideas for strategies... should we go back to the Movimiento days? are we that far back again...? do we need to resort to paros and walkouts? is a huelga needed? what does it take for the tower folks to understand that we are creating a new apartheid by not ensuring equity and access of our community folks to Arizona's First University...?
    the data you shared here speaks volumes to this unfortunate crisis...
    btw, when will this meeting take place? will it be a public meeting such as the one this summer?
    answers, answers, answers, and then actions, actions, predicate by example, that is what many of us want... ya basta de promesas falsas!! no more false promises!!!