By Shannon Vicic
The Urbana-Champaign campus has seen steady growth in the number of women, African Americans and Latinos on its faculty, according to Provost Larry Faulkner. That growth has occurred in the face of a general decline in the overall number of faculty members at UIUC caused by budget constraints, he said.
Faulkner's report on faculty diversity at UIUC was part of a presentation by the provosts of all three campuses to the UI Board of Trustees at its April 9 and 10 meetings in Urbana.
The diversity figures were calculated by looking at the availability of female and minority applicants to individual departments at each campus, said Sylvia Manning, UI vice president for academic affairs.
Although no method of calculating diversity is perfect, that method recognizes that universities hire faculty members by discipline, she said.
"If I'm looking for biologists, a well-qualified accountant doesn't do me a whole lot of good," Manning said.
In most cases, availability was determined by looking at the percent of doctorates earned nationwide by women, African Americans and Latinos.
That data was used to calculate a benchmark the number of female, African American and Latino faculty members that could be expected in a department given the availability of applicants from those groups and the size of the department. The number of actual hiring opportunities in each department also was taken into consideration.
Each department was measured against its benchmark to see if it was under or over diversity goals. Faulkner cited several success stories at UIUC departments that have exceeded diversity benchmarks, including civil engineering, computer science, psychology, social work and law.
In the last 10 years, the number of female faculty members at UIUC has increased by approximately 120, bringing the total number to more than 800, Faulkner said. The number of African Americans and Latinos among the faculty has doubled in that period, to about 55 each.
When it comes to increasing faculty diversity, all three provosts agree that many challenges remain. The pool of female and minority applicants is smaller than the total number of doctorates awarded because not all women and minorities who earn doctorates go into academia; some go into industry.
Because turnover among faculty members is slow, current diversity numbers reflect 30 years of hiring practices, and there have been constricted pools of minority and female applicants in the past.
"We have to remember that we're dealing with an entity something like an aircraft carrier, and if we want to change it, we can't turn on a dime," said UIC Provost John Wanat.
When there is a faculty position open in a department, the department may have an internal need for a faculty member specializing in a specific area, which further constricts the pool of qualified candidates.
Retaining female and minority faculty members that the university already has hired remains a problem, Faulkner said. There is not a large external employment market in Urbana-Champaign to accommodate dual-career couples.
To achieve more diversity among its faculty, the Urbana-Champaign campus is planning to target departments in which the best opportunities to increase diversity exist.
Faulkner has asked Mary Ellen O'Shaughnessey, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, to analyze the diversity data and determine which departments have the most potential in their hiring opportunities and applicant pools. She will work with department heads and deans on employing strategies that may help increase diversity in those areas.
After the presentation, Trustee Ada Lopez, D-Chicago, said she was "feeling more optimistic" about faculty diversity at the university. By increasing the number of faculty members from underrepresented groups, the university will create a climate in which people from underrepresented groups can feel more comfortable, she said.
But Trustee William Engelbrecht, R-Henry, said he was troubled that the campuses were embarking on strategies for increasing the number of minority and female faculty members who are hired without knowing why those who already have been hired are leaving.
Faulkner said that for many years UIUC has been conducting exit interviews with employees who leave and has heard a wide variety of reasons why people leave the university.
Riley Glerum from the architecture firm of Isaksen Glerum PC of Urbana presented site development plans for a new Japan House, to be constructed in the UI Arboretum, located on South Lincoln Avenue.
The 3,120-square-foot building will serve as a place where students, faculty members and others can be introduced to various forms of Japanese culture. The building design is inspired by traditional Japanese architecture; the landscaping will include ponds, hills and Japanese gardens.
The building will contain formal, semi-formal and informal tea rooms for traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. The semi-formal and formal tea rooms can be combined to serve as a stage for Kabuki presentations. The facility also will contain an administrative office, an instructional kitchen, a multi-purpose area and a seating area for viewing tea ceremonies or Kabuki presentations.
The Japan House will cost $650,000, and will be paid for through private funds. Construction is scheduled to begin in July and should be completed by December, Glerum said. The current Japan House, located at 902 W. California, Urbana, is scheduled to be razed in January.
Glerum also gave the board a second look at the plans for the Multi-Sport Building, a basketball practice facility to be located just southeast of Bielfeldt and near St. Mary's Road and Kirby Avenue in Champaign. Construction of that facility is scheduled to begin in July and be completed by September 1998.
The new center will help alleviate the shortage of practice space for the men's and women's basketball teams and also may be used by the volleyball team.
The building will house offices for men's head basketball coach Lon Kruger and his staff. Women's basketball coach Theresa Grentz and her staff moved to the new Bielfeldt Athletic Administration Building last year and will remain there for now, although space has been allotted in the new center for women's coaching offices.
The two-story brick and stone structure is designed to blend with nearby sports facilities, including Bielfeldt and the Atkins Tennis Center. Glerum also brought up the option of adding an outdoor walkway that would connect the Multi-Sport Building to Bielfeldt. The walkway wasn't part of the original proposal, but could be added after construction is finished.
In other construction items, the board gave Comptroller Craig Bazzani the authority to award contracts for a proposed $1.7 million Hallene Gateway Plaza, which will provide an entryway to the campus at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Illinois Street.
The proposed gateway project includes sidewalks and walkways, entrances to the Office of Admissions and Records Building, decorative landscaping, a fountain and parking.
A construction company for the project is scheduled to be selected prior to the May 8 board meeting in Chicago.
Larry Smarr, director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, gave a presentation on the National Science Foundation (NSF) award of 10 additional years of funding to NSCA. The award doubles the amount of funding the center will receive from NSF.
UI President James Stukel congratulated Smarr on the funding and added that the vision in the proposal was Smarr's, and that Smarr deserved high praise for the accomplishment. Stukel also praised the state for playing a crucial role in the funding of the UI center by pledging matching funds.
Among its roll-call items, the board approved the award of the 1997 Board of Trustees' Distinguished Service Medallion to the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, archbishop of Chicago. Bernardin helped establish a partnership between the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and UIC.