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ASU faculty diversity at top and growing

February 03, 2015

Boasting the most diverse tenure-track faculty in its history, Arizona State University now leads the nation in hires of women and minority women, when compared to the 16 institutions designated as peer institutions by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR).

The uptick in faculty diversity is a reflection of strategic shifts in targeted hires, training of faculty and staff involved in academic hiring and expanded efforts to broaden applications pools, said Barry Ritchie, vice provost for academic personnel at ASU.

“Excellence is blind to zip codes, gender, orientation, ethnicity or race,” said Ritchie. “We want the most qualified people. The only way you can hire the best is by encouraging and reviewing the broadest pool of applicants.”

The benefits of a more diverse and inclusive faculty can be profound, but are particularly significant to the New American University’s three core values of access, excellence and impact. In the classroom, students are able to see beyond ASU’s outstanding research and creative activities to how excellence is broadly spread, and that the most diverse perspectives are being offered to them.

“It is important for students to see faculty members in front of them that break traditional expectations, or shatter stereotypes about who can be at the top of the field,” Ritchie said. “Seeing women excelling in research and teaching physics, for example, underscores to those students taking physics classes that no pathway is closed to anyone who has the talent and strives.”

According to 2013 data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, 610, or 36.7 percent, of ASU’s 1,664 tenure-track faculty were women. Minority women made up 25.6 percent of female faculty members and 9.4 percent of all faculty members, putting ASU at the top of its ABOR peers.

In terms of overall hiring for 2013, ASU also rose to the top three of that peer group for all minority hires, a few percentage points behind University of California-Los Angeles and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

According to Ritchie, gains for 2014 are expected to be even greater.

“The fraction of faculty members represented by women and minorities in the newly hired cohort for the 2014-2015 academic year is greater than the representation of those groups in the 2013-2014 faculty – half-again higher for women and a quarter higher for minority faculty members,” Ritchie said.

An increasingly diverse faculty is a major part of ASU’s mission to transform higher education.

“Faculty members are some of the largest human investments we make toward building the ASU of the future,” said Robert E. Page, Jr., university provost. “The fact that our hiring is in line with the ASU core values of access, excellence and impact speaks volumes. It underscores that emphasizing and seeking diversity supports these values and empowers our students and our communities.”

“We are No. 1 and not resting on our laurels,” Ritchie added. “We’ve got our foot on the gas.”

Want to see who’s new at ASU? Meet the 2014-2015 new faculty.