College Dean Search and Diversity Report Main Focus of Senate Meeting

December 08, 2006

Dec. 11, 2006 -- President John T. Casteen III has solicited advice and input from the Faculty Senate on selecting a new dean for the College of Arts & Sciences.

Addressing the senators at their Nov. 29 meeting, Casteen said he wanted the search for the new dean to be completed by late April or early May.

Current Dean Edward L. Ayers is leaving U.Va. in June to become president of University of Richmond. Casteen and Vice President and Provost Gene D. Block are co-chairing the hiring committee, though Casteen said both of them have extensive travel obligations in the next several months.

The post will be advertised in the second half of January, Casteen said, adding that the University is seeking a consultant to work on the process and re-examine the job itself.
Casteen said search committee members have met with a variety of interested parties, including the College of Arts & Sciences Foundation, the Faculty Forum of Scientific Research and various department chairs. The smallest search committee Casteen envisions would be 12 to 15 members. He said he wanted a dean on board for next fall.

“Because of its complexities, being dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, resembles being a small college president,” Casteen said, noting that it was one of the most visible deanships in the country. “And the current job is being driven by many priorities that were put into place before Ed took the job.”

Casteen said he was looking for a 10-year commitment from candidates, since the health of the College is tied to continuity.

 “We need to be conscious of longevity,” he said.

Casteen also updated the senators on the $3 billion capital campaign, saying that about $1.1 billion had been raised so far. Donors, he said were interested in “large themes,” such as globalization and culture and technology. Donors want programs with innovations that cut across disciplines and departments, he said.

William Harvey, vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity, and Gertrude Fraser, vice provost for faculty advancement, updated the senate on faculty diversity at the University.

There has been progress in bringing more women and minorities to Grounds, but the majority of the faculty is still white male, Fraser said. About 75 percent of the faculty is white and about 88 percent is male, according to Fraser’s numbers. Among tenure and tenure-track faculty members, 994 of 1,115 male faculty members are white and 318 of 366 female faculty members are white. White males make up 79.5 percent of the department chairs, while white females constitute 13.7 percent.

In the 2005-2006 year, about 35 percent of new hires were women while 65 percent were men. About 72 percent of the new hires were white, 8 percent were black and 9 percent were Asian-Americans. And yield rates, the number of acceptances divided by the number of offers made, have increased, from 54 percent in 2003 to 74 percent in 2005-2006 for women and from 31 percent in 2003 to 88 percent in 2005-2006 for blacks.

This data helps the University focus on the long range, Fraser said.

She also noted that the University’s ranking among 61 Association of American Universities members for minority faculty has been improving. It was ranked 12th this year, up from 21st in 2003, for black faculty members and moved from 53rd to 48th for female faculty.

Harvey used outside consultants to get a fresh perspective on the University’s diversity. The consultants found a gap between the goals of the deans and the department chairs’ understanding of them. Some chairs are supportive and think diversity initiatives provide great opportunities while others are still learning.

Harvey wants broader pools of applicants and suggested that selections be made from among three finalists instead of two. The hiring process should be a competition for excellence, he said.
He also suggested the University community have discussions about how diversity makes for a better faculty, as well as more substantive discussions on the department level, to yield more energetic and appropriate recruitment.

Fraser also pressed for a yearlong orientation process for new hires, collecting data from exiting faculty members, leadership seminars for department chairs and creating data bases for search committees.

Harvey said he was willing to meet with departments to talk about diversity initiatives and their benefits. Fraser suggested using strategic hiring to build a more diverse faculty leadership.
“As we see new positions open up, we need more senior faculty of color,” Harvey said. The senior faculty needs to take ownership of the diversity issue, he said.

Newly created positions would come from the University, not the state, Casteen said, adding that there needs to be more fund raising for all levels of teaching.

“No one has ever given an endowed chair for an assistant professor,” Casteen said.

In other business

The senate approved a policy on textbook sales, setting scheduling guidelines for faculty to provide students required and suggested text book lists, requested that instructors minimize textbook expenses for students, as long as it does not compromise educational quality, declared faculty should make sure all elements of a bundled textbook package be essential to the course and suggested using older versions of textbooks if new ones are not substantially different.

The senate also heard a report on the status of the University’s libraries. Diane Walker, associate university librarian, said the library was seeking to raise $100 million in n the upcoming capital campaign, one of the highest targets for a research library, to create an endowment as well as invest in technology and preserving the collections. The library is working with on-line search engine Google to digitize selected book collections.

Walker stressed the importance of the library to the University, saying surveys had shown that libraries are the second factor in students college selection choices, after the facilities for their major.  Two-thirds of the undergraduates visit the library at least once a week and half the graduate students go to the library at lease once a week, she said.