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July 25, 2021
Ithaca, NY | 79°F

Opinion

Editorial: Data transparency needed to protect faculty diversity

The ongoing Academic Program Prioritization (APP) process will see the loss of 116 full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty members. While the administration offers its version of transparency, many questions remain unanswered, including how many faculty of color will be affected by these cuts. 

It is no secret that Ithaca College already lacks diversity. Only 12.2% of faculty members identify as people of color. However, the college does not publicly share this information broken down by faculty rank. It is disheartening that information like this is not publicly available, and it is even more disheartening that there is no clear reason why.

Throughout the APP process, some have raised concerns about faculty of color being disproportionately impacted by the cuts. Nationally, faculty of color are more likely to be in contingent rather than tenured positions. However, according to President Shirley M. Collado and La Jerne Cornish, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, more than 70% of the contingent faculty are white. There was no way for members of the campus community to know this, since the information is not publicly available. If it was, perhaps there would have been a bit more clarity and understanding. 

Pieces of information like these help community members have a more comprehensive understanding of what is going on at the college. Having full access to data is critical when the goal is to have productive discourse about the state of the college.

It is frustrating that information is only revealed in small spurts — or is hidden behind promises of it being released years from now, like the current salaries of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT).

The college does students of color a disservice by withholding those records. Students deserve to know how well they are represented among faculty and what rank these faculty members hold. An institution committed to diversity must invite and retain students and faculty of color.

Additionally, once faculty of color are at the college, they must be provided with the resources they need to be supported and successfully proceed through the ranks. Representation of women and minorities decreases with increasing faculty rank, according to data from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. 

Students of color need professors of color. Students of color need mentors who can relate to their experiences and offer advice that is crafted with their identities in mind. It is not difficult to believe that the college does genuinely want to increase its diversity, but these processes must be open for all to see. It is not enough to say “diversity.” We need to see it.

The Ithacan can be reached at ithacan@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @IthacanOnline