Minorities underrepresented in UNA employees

The university strives for diversity, but minorities are underrepresented in the faculty and staff on campus.

Minorities make up 17 percent of university employees while whites make up 80 percent, according to a report from the Office of Human Resources and Affirmative Action.

President Kenneth Kitts addressed diversity on behalf of the University Executive Council at the Question and Answer Open Forum Feb 6.

“There might be four to five graduate students coming out of graduate school in a given year that have the expertise you’re looking for, and if they happen to be from an underrepresented group in the academy, a person of color or a woman for example, the competition to get that faculty member is going to be intense,” Kitts said.

He said the marketplace for minority faculty and staff is competitive, and higher paying universities often hire these candidates.

While minority races are underrepresented, women are the majority gender of university employees.

Females make up about 60 percent of university employees. The administration is 54 percent male, faculty is 52 percent female and the staff is 62 percent female, according to the report.

It is important for women to hold higher positions in the workforce, said Coordinator of Women’s Studies Emily Kelley.

“I think it’s important that women are so well represented at UNA,” Kelley said.

When women hold higher positions, the government passes better legislation, women, girls and their children receive better educations, women marry later and violence against women and girls decreases, Kelley said.

Employing people from a wide variety of backgrounds strengthens UNA, said Director of Diversity and Institutional Equity Joan Williams in an email.

“The university supports and is actively working with departments to increase awareness of best practice strategies to recruit a more diverse workforce,” Williams said.

Having a variety of faculty and staff prepares students for a diverse workforce, Williams said.

“A diverse faculty and staff enriches the experiences of all students,” Williams said. “It is important to employ individuals who are in touch with different segments of our population.”

Students have a better opportunity to find guidance within a diverse faculty and staff, Williams said.

“We have a diverse student body, and a diverse faculty and staff allows students to develop mentoring relationships with employees who have similar backgrounds and cultural beliefs, who are able to serve as role models for our students,” Williams said.

Learning from professors with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives is an ideal education, said senior Tyler Yasaka.

“You don’t want to have an education where all teachers think the same way and have the same ideas,” Yasaka said. “You want to be exposed to lots of different things.”

Staff and faculty diversity is important because it helps students learn more about themselves, said senior Carley Hall.

“I think to have a worldview there needs to be other cultures’ viewpoints coming into the classroom,” Hall said. “If UNA is just staffed with Americans, it’s going to leave all this creativity and diverse population out and keep us closed-minded.”

It is helpful to learn from a professor who shares a similar background, said freshman Destiny Harris.

“We need more professors that are diverse, whether that’s culturally, sexually or gender wise,” Harris said. “I have a professor that is LGBT, and it has helped him understand my essays more.”