A Diverse Faculty is an Excellent Faculty

February 17, 2014

In my last “Note from Woodbridge Hall,” I wrote about participating in the White House Summit on College Opportunity. This event helped to place the idea—and the ideal—of access to higher education squarely in the national dialog about economic disparity in our society and preserving the American Dream.

Last week, here on campus, I was honored to participate in a summit of another kind, one that addressed a topic with equally significant ramifications for higher education in general and for Yale University in particular: faculty diversity. A distinguished visiting team from academic institutions and philanthropic organizations around the country convened in New Haven at the invitation of Provost Ben and Deputy Provost Julia Adams. We asked this group to take a candid look at Yale’s efforts to diversify its faculty; to hear from deans, department chairs, and faculty representatives; and to offer suggestions for ways that Yale can continue to make progress.

From 2006 to 2013, Yale undertook a Faculty Diversity Initiative that specifically focused on increasing the number of women in the sciences and the number of underrepresented minority faculty overall. Last week’s Faculty Diversity Summit (which was originally suggested by the University Faculty Diversity Council, appointed during my time as provost) was intended, at least in part, to consider how we might shape our next Faculty Diversity Initiative. I am deeply grateful to the visiting team, the Provost’s Office, and the many faculty members from across the campus who devoted their time, their insights, and their candor to this complex issue. All of us came away from the summit with a clearer sense of the challenges at Yale, a renewed energy and commitment to nurturing, mentoring, and recruiting a more diverse faculty, and a deep appreciation for the idea that diversity is a driver of excellence throughout the university.