Chicago-area universities fall short on faculty diversity

CHICAGO (WLS) — For students Alex Jackson and Lily Ng, having teachers of color is especially meaningful.

“While it’s cliché that representation matters, it really does,” said Jackson, who is a doctoral candidate at DePaul University.

“The experience is much more personal and enjoyable if it’s someone I feel I can relate to,” said Ng, who is a student at Northwestern University.

Experts say a diverse faculty can positively impact success for students of color, but it doesn’t stop there

“All students benefit from the faculty of color, not just students of color,” said Jose Garcia of the Illinois Council on Higher Education.

However, at some Chicago-area universities, faculty does not reflect student enrollment. In some cases, faculty demographics do not match.

“I had black educators in high school and elementary school. So I wonder where are they at the higher education level?” Jackson wondered.

The ABC7 data team requested demographic information about students and faculty at some of the largest universities in and around Chicago. We also looked at student demographics from the Illinois Council on Higher Education.

Our analysis found that at Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Loyola, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, the percentage of students of color is much higher than the percentage of nonwhite faculty.

At NIU, 46% of students are non-white. But people of color make up just 22% of the faculty.

At Northwestern, 35% of students are non-white. The university does not provide aggregate faculty demographic information, but breaks it down by school. The School of Journalism has the most diverse teaching staff: 27% people of color.

Loyola University reports that 39% of students are non-white, but only 21% of faculty are non-white.

Of the schools in our analysis, UIC is the most diverse. People of color make up approximately 57% of UIC’s student body and 33% of faculty.

However, while 28% of UIC students identify as Hispanic, Hispanic faculty make up only 7% of the teaching staff.

Professor Héctor García Chávez does not work at UIC, but said universities need to improve the recruitment of Hispanic professors.

“There are other diverse candidates out there, but what happens when hiring practices don’t reflect the world we live in,” he said.

Local universities say they are actively working to recruit and retain faculty from underrepresented groups with various programs and grants.

UIC has a Bridge to Faculty program, which is designed to increase faculty diversity. It is now in its third year with 35 fellows, and 10 of the original cohort have joined UIC as faculty, according to UIC officials.

“It will take time, but we have to walk away and walk away from different angles,” said Aisha El-Amin, UIC Associate Vice-Chancellor for Equity and Membership.

In June, Loyola University announced the largest individual gift in institutional history of $100 million from John and Kathy Schreiber.

It will fund full scholarships, room and board, and an array of comprehensive support services for aspiring Black, Latino, first-generation, and other ethnically and racially diverse students who are historically underrepresented in higher education, the university said in a statement.

The University of Chicago and DePaul University did not share their faculty demographics with ABC7.

But DePaul spokeswoman Mary Hansen said in a statement, “We believe a diverse community is essential to preparing students to tackle the complexity of today’s world, and we aim to recruit and retain faculty and staff to reflect the rich and vibrant diversity of our Student Council.”

Earlier this year, Governor JB Pritzker signed a higher education bill that requires all public universities and community colleges to develop and implement equity plans, including the diversity of their corps. professorial.

The state also increased funding for the Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois program, which provides scholarships to students from underrepresented groups pursuing higher education.

“In order to have more teachers of color, we need to keep more students of color in the education system,” Garcia said.

Still, graduate student DePaul says some people of color may be reluctant to pursue an academic career due to a lack of diversity.

“It makes you wonder if it’s doable,” Jackson.

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