The University’s faculty is continually changing. Year after year, the University attracts and hires new talent to fill open positions. Lost within the constant upheaval are the changing demographics of overall instructional faculty body.
Since 2008, the University’s instructional faculty increasingly has become more ethnically diverse in addition to the hiring of more entry-level professors. The number of Latino faculty instructors doubled between 2008 and 2017, an increase from 25 to 52. Additionally, the number of Asian and African-American instructional faculty increased substantially. These increases come despite the minimal change in the University’s total instructional faculty, a net change of six instructional faculty members since 2008.
Despite the gains made in the last 10 years, Senior Vice Provost of the Office of Academic Affairs Jane Cassidy acknowledges the University still has work to do.
“Anybody who’s not white is underrepresented in our faculty,” Cassidy said. “We would love for our faculty to be a closer mirror to the population of Louisiana, and we are not there.”
Cassidy specifically cited Hispanics and African-Americans as underrepresented in the faculty. African-Americans comprised roughly 12 percent of the University’s student body,
according to the Office of Budget and Planning’s 2017 Fall Facts report. African-Americans only accounted for 56 of the University’s 1,345 instructional faculty, equating to a little more than 4 percent.
Among the significant strides made by the University to diversify its staff, Cassidy notes more women have entered the STEM fields as instructors.
“It is incredibly important that we have diverse faculty,” Cassidy said. “Students should be able to see people who look like them on campus for support.”
Another emerging trend in the University faculty is the large number of instructional faculty hires. The University alone had 157 new faculty members in 2018, according to Cassidy. These hires stand in stark contrast to hiring freezes earlier this decade amidst the state’s budgetary crisis. As a result, many of the new faculty members are new to the world of higher education.
Former Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope explains this is not a push within the University, but an outcome of the University’s economic situation. According to Cope, the newer faculty reflects nationwide trends of universities hiring cheaper faculty.
“This is not something the University is setting out on, such as a quest,” Cope said. “Rather, this is a result of economic circumstance. Within its means, the University is doing quite well at diversifying its faculty and staff.”
The University has made undeniable progress to diversify its instructional faculty. Administrators, like Cassidy, remain optimistic the progress will continue into the near future and the new faculty and develop and grow alongside the University.
“You bring people in to let them grow, so that their name becomes associated with your university over time,” Cassidy said.