College Assignment: To Keep Minorities

UC-Santa Barbara chancellor seeks campus diversity

CHANCELLOR Barbara Uehling wants to keep the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) at the forefront of minority faculty hiring. ``I believe that this university must be a leader in the effort to assure that all qualified individuals, regardless of race or cultural background, participate fully in our society,'' she says.

To achieve that objective, she has appointed a Committee for Diversity, composed of students, faculty, staff, and administrators, to study areas of improvement. This initiative may help to regain momentum that was lost during a sad chapter in the school's history.

Chancellor Uehling came on board in 1987, replacing Robert Huttenback, who was convicted of embezzling university funds. Her first two years in office were spent restoring the community's trust in the university and making organizational changes. Some faculty members say minority recruiting is only now getting back to full steam.

Finding and keeping minority graduate students and faculty members is a crucial issue facing United States higher education. So valuable are the few teaching candidates that bidding wars are going on, with recruiters offering high salaries and promotions, sometimes even tenure.

UC-Santa Barbara has lost five Latino faculty members in the last year, including the director of the Chicano studies department, who was lured away by Yale University.

``Sixty percent of our faculty have had outside offers,'' says Juan Vincente Palerm, associate professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Chicano Studies.

Faculty and administration officials attribute the raiding to gains the university has made over the last 15 years, during which minority faculty members increased from 7 percent to 14 percent. It's the only University of California campus to have a Chicano studies department and an organized research institute in Chicano studies.

Keeping minority undergraduates is also a challenge. The university has instituted a racial awareness program with videos and workshops to make students feel welcome in this largely white community. (Thirty percent of this year's freshman class were minority students.)

The university also recently established an ethnic studies requirement, and has formed a multicultural center under Uehling's leadership.

Despite these efforts, Hispanic hirings dropped slightly over the past year, and the pace of black hirings stayed the same.

The university continued to recruit minority faculty members. Not as many signed on, however.

``We got used to an 80 percent acceptance rate; last year it was close to 50 percent,'' says Julius Zelmanovich, associate vice-chancellor of academic personnel.

``They're hard to keep,'' says Uehling. ``We don't always succeed.''

``Faculty of color are a hot commodity right now,'' says Gerald Horne, chairman of the black studies department and professor of history. ``The administration needs to pay what the market bears. They do it for engineers and economists, why not for minority faculty?''

He puts some responsibility on the faculty, which is in charge of hiring. Many faculty members, he says, do not share the administration's stated goal of increased minority hiring. The faculty recently passed an ethnic studies requirement, but only after students held an 11-day hunger strike.

Attracting graduate students is also difficult. ``The pool is small,'' says Uehling. She cites a Council of Higher Education report, which found that only four blacks nationwide earned PhDs in math in 1987-88. Uehling says that the university needs to work at getting more young minority students into the pipeline.

The university developed the Los Angeles Schools Enrichment and Resources program in 1987 to encourage minority students to consider attending UCSB. The program provides target students with comprehensive application, admission, and enrollment services.

``In the seventh-grade outreach program, we work with students and parents to help them think of college as a real possibility,'' says Uehling.

UCSB students visit junior colleges, talking up the school and encouraging students to attend. The university also provides academic support for graduate students.

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