The conversation of diversity on college campuses is usually focused on college students, but diversity among college faculty is just as important when discussing a college’s ability to provide students with an education that encompasses multiple perspectives.
In 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics released data concerning faculty diversity in “degree-granting postsecondary institutions.” This definition of faculty includes professors, associate professors, instructors, lecturers, assisting professors, adjunct professors and interim professors.
The 1.5 million faculty documented in the data were 41% White males, 35% White females, 6% Asian/Pacific Islander males, 4% Asian/Pacific Islander females, 3% Black males, 3% Black females, 3% Hispanic males, and 2% Hispanic females.
This becomes complicated when academic rank is taken into account. Full time professors were 55% White males, 27% White females, 7% Asian/Pacific Islander males, and 3% were Asian/Pacific Islander females. Black males, Black females, and Hispanic males made up only 2% of all full-time professors recorded.
Maryville College is no exception to these disheartening statistics. The college’s “Vision for Diversity” states, “[by] design, membership in the Maryville College community promises interaction with diverse people, perspectives, and ideas.”
While the college does have a rich history of inclusion, the current issue of diversity among the college’s faculty calls into question the promises and assertions made by the college.
Overall, Maryville College’s entire faculty is primarily female with around 56% of professors being women. This distribution is not equal within some departments like Education. It is entirely female, while the Humanities remains male dominated with seven men and three women teaching.
Among the 58 faculty who hold professor titles, 48% are female and 52% are male according to the staff listed on the Maryville College Directory, but this, again, is not evenly distributed across the divisions. Even though Maryville remains fairly balanced on gender diversity, the faculty is overwhelmingly white. This becomes increasingly limiting to students and faculty who are seeking diversity or who would benefit from different perspectives.
Not only does this hinder education from the limit of perspective, but it also brings in the issue of representation. Students of all backgrounds and cultures often want to see themselves represented in professional environments.
Students desiring to work in higher education themselves would benefit greatly from seeing people of a similar background succeeding in the field they wish to pursue across the academic divisions.
Maryville College seems to be striving for a community that is inclusive, but in order for this to permeate student life, it has to be reflected in faculty as well.
Limited funding and the social politics of Tennessee surely play a factor in the college’s ability to attract diverse applicants for faculty positions. With national diversity in colleges already being an issue, how will Maryville College fare against colleges who are able to provide students with the diverse community they claim as a commitment in their Statement of Purpose?
There is no easy solution to or conversation to be had about the reality of diversity at Maryville or any college community, but students should be aware of their ability to voice opinions and concerns about the college community.