Attitudes and Advocacy: Understanding Faculty Views on Racial/Ethnic Diversity
Park, Julie J.
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Diversity has been a hot-button issue in higher education for the past several decades (Chang, Witt, Jones & Hakuta, 2003). A significant portion of research has been dedicated to how students experience the campus racial climate (Hurtado, Milem, Clayton- Pederson, & Allen, 1998; Rankin & Reason, 2005), their views on policies such as affirmative action (Sax & Arredondo, 1999), and how they participate in diversity-related activism (Rhoads, 1998). However, less is known about how faculty feel about diversity policies on their campuses, how important they think diversity is to undergraduates, and their own commitments to fostering a diverse environment (Flores & Rodriguez, 2006; American Council on Education, 2000). Faculty play a critical role in the life of the university. They design and teach the curriculum, conduct research that advances the existing knowledge base, and set guidelines that determine many of the standards for their campuses. They make up the body from which department heads, deans, and college presidents come from. Trustees may serveterms, students cycle in and out, but once tenured, faculty are there to stay. Because faculty play such a sustaining role in the life of the university, it is essential to better understand their attitudes towards diversity, especially in a time period where policies geared towards increasing access to higher education for students of color continue to be challenged (Chang, et al., 2003). In order to better understand faculty attitudes towards diversity, specifically racial/ethnic diversity, we created a composite variable that taps into a variety of faculty attitudes towards diversity including their commitments to promoting racial understanding and their views on the role of diversity in undergraduate education. We refer to this variable throughout the study as Ã Ã Ã Â¢ Diversity Advocacy.Ã Ã Ã Â¢ The purpose of the study is to examine how Diversity Advocacy varies within subsets of faculty, as well as to identify predictors of faculty attitudes regarding diversity.