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AAAS Education Experts Publish Article on Diversity
Colleges and universities across the country are sharply cutting back initiatives aimed at increasing diversity in their student body and faculty in response to high-visibility legal actions, write Daryl Chubin, director of the AAAS Center for Advancing Science & Engineering Capacity, and Shirley Malcom, head of AAAS Education and Human Resources.
The article, "The New Backlash on Campus," published in the Fall 2006 issue of College and University Journal, urges college and university leaders to resist the short-sighted temptation to restrict these initiatives by activist organizations who are intimidating universities using race and ethnicity as factors in admissions.
"Higher education is not 'standing its ground' despite the legal sanction and moral authority to do so," they write. "Instead, we are witnessing a backlash in recruitment, admissions, need-based financial aid, retention, and faculty recruitment and advancement."
This backlash comes in the wake of two landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2003 involving the University of Michigan's admissions procedures, Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, along with the lack of proper guidance from the federal government on how race and ethnicity can be used to evaluate college applicants.
The authors place the burden of correcting this "within the institution, not with the individual faculty, departments, or college units."
"Leaders must use their bully pulpit to promote discussion of diversity as a value instead of responses to threatened litigation," they write. "Courage and conviction are the antidotes to backlash."
The authors list several possible initiatives to increase minority participation, including:
- "Holistic admissions"—evaluating potential along with academic preparation;
- Combining loan forgiveness with financial aid for deserving applicants;
- "Bridging" - —promoting mentoring relationships before and after matriculation; and
- Fair and open faculty searches and tenure reviews.
Chubin describes the article as an "update" or "lack of progress" report two years following the publication of Standing our Ground: A Guidebook for STEM Educators in the Post-Michigan Era by AAAS and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME).
The guide, a free resource for educators and the general public, offers strategies for supporting diversity in science and technology education.
Chubin and Malcom are known internationally for their efforts to diversify enrollment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Founded in 2004 with a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the AAAS Capacity Center aims to provide U.S. citizen access to STEM education by serving as an outside resource for universities and other organizations with a desire to increase the quality and diversity of their students and professional staff.
Recent initiatives for the AAAS Capacity Center include working with the National Science Foundation to evaluate alliances supported by the Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate's Broadening Participation in Computing initiative to create partnerships that encourage minority participation in computing careers.
To learn more about the AAAS Capacity Center, click here.
To read the full commentary in the College and University Journal, click here.
26 October 2006