Promoting Multicultural Excellence
in the Academy: A National Summer Institute
By Fernando R. Guzman, III, assistant provost
for multicultural faculty recruitment and retention,
University of Denver
As immigration and other factors transform the United
States, institutions of higher education must capitalize
on increased diversity to prepare students to live in,
work in, and contribute to an interdependent world.
In this context, colleges and universities must train
and recruit faculty from various backgrounds who can
draw on their multiple cultures, worldviews, opinions,
talents, gifts, and disciplines to educate their students
(Turner & Myers, Jr., 2000). Yet according to the
Chronicle of Higher Education, in 2005, only “109,964
U.S. minority scholars held full-time faculty positions
at American colleges and universities” (2007).
In order to realize the benefits of diversity, institutions
must improve their structural support for a diverse
The Call for Structural Diversity
Strategies for Future Faculty
members often need pragmatic guidance on how to
attain and leverage their doctoral degrees. Institute
workshops outline practical steps such as the
Create a vision for your finished product
View the dissertation as a series of steps
Set realistic expectations
Determine what is “good enough”
Start with “the hard stuff”
Strategies for completing the dissertation:
Cost of living in the region
Professional development support
Opportunities for family members to obtain employment
in the region/town
Factors to consider when negotiating a contract:
Identify a mentor
Understand expectations regarding tenure, teaching
load, publications, and community service
Have a clear research agenda
Develop relationships with other faculty of
color and women’s groups on campus
Pointers to keep in mind when beginning a
—Fernando R. Guzman, III
A diverse population of faculty, staff, and students
yields tremendous educational benefits, including opportunities
for cognitive and personal growth; chances for improving
leadership abilities; and the creation of a rich social
environment for promoting all students’ learning
and development (Milem, Chang, & Antonio, 2005).
Yet although higher education has begun to recognize
the cultural benefits of diversity, structural diversity
presents a continuing challenge to colleges and universities
(Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pedersen, & Allen, 1999).
Structural diversity refers to a variety of factors,
both demographic (the number of faculty, staff, administrators,
and students who are of color) and programmatic (policies
for the recruitment and retention of diverse populations,
programs that provide academic and social support, and
other group-specific support mechanisms) (Hurtado, Milem,
Clayton-Pedersen, & Allen, 1999). Each of these
mechanisms undergirds the others: a diverse faculty,
for instance, requires supportive policies and programs
throughout the institution. Although a lack of structural
support has limited the recruitment and retention of
faculty of color in the past, institutions are increasingly
open to creative and innovative reforms.
One of these key reforms is in the area of early support
for faculty-in-training. Only a small pool of doctoral
students from underrepresented populations trained to
join the professoriate currently exists. In order to
craft a faculty that reflects the greater population,
institutions of higher education must prepare graduate
students, particularly those currently underrepresented
in academia, to assume leadership positions. In pursuit
of this goal, the University of Denver has created a
national summer institute to train men and women of
color and white women to enter the faculty pipeline.
Training Future Faculty
The institute, entitled “Promoting Multicultural
Excellence in the Academy,” fulfills several functions
necessary to prepare students for academic careers and
to increase the pool of underrepresented faculty candidates.
- Encourage participants to clarify their goals in
relation to pursuing a faculty position, and provide
them with the information necessary to pursue these
goals in the competitive job market.
- Increase the national pool of faculty of color and
women, providing structural support for enhanced learning
- Develop a national network of men and women of color
and white women in academia who can support each other
in their searches, thereby increasing the odds that
candidates will remain in the faculty pipeline.
In addition, the institute brings highly qualified
and sought-after scholars to Denver with the hope that
they will eventually seek employment and diversify applicant
pools at the University of Denver (DU).
Hosted by the Office of Multicultural Faculty Recruitment
and Retention within the Center for Multicultural Excellence
and the Office of Graduate Studies and Research at the
University of Denver, the four-day institute consists
of seminars on a variety of topics essential to graduate
students hoping to enter the faculty pipeline. National
experts from around the country provide participants
with cutting-edge practical information and insight
into the process of entering the academy. Fellows come
from institutions throughout the United States and represent
a variety of disciplines. Thus the institute draws a
group of participants whose diversity encompasses categories
beyond race, ethnicity, and gender.
Participant responses indicate that the institute has
been a valuable experience. “I never would have
gotten [this information] from my department or university,”
one participant said. Another expressed, “I’m
encouraged by what I learned and the people I met.”
Lessons Learned about Faculty Recruitment
The process of creating our institute has reinforced
several lessons about recruiting and retaining women
and men of color and white women:
- In order to attract outstanding faculty, colleges
and universities must invest personnel resources in
a variety of programs designed specifically to increase
and retain the number of underrepresented faculty.
The institute at the University of Denver represents
one such initiative.
- Institutions of higher education must deliberatively
educate doctoral candidates about pursuing faculty
careers. Of the eighty-four fellows who have participated
in the program over four years, only one indicated
that his department or university had provided the
information he received at the institute.
- College administrators need to examine campus climates,
particularly at the departmental level. According
to Turner and Myers, “the predominant barrier
[toward recruiting and retaining faculty of color]
is racial and ethnic bias resulting in unwelcoming
and unsupportive work environments for faculty of
color” (2000). Department culture is often a
major contributor to this “unwelcoming”
Institutions of higher education must act systemically
and proactively to improve their structural diversity.
Needless to say, improvement will require creative and
innovative solutions. We hope that more universities
will contribute to the training, preparation, recruitment,
and retention of diverse faculty populations through
initiatives like the National Summer Institute on Promoting
Multicultural Excellence in the Academy. In doing so,
they will improve not only professional equity, but
also the overall educational experience for their students,
faculty, and staff—and their students’ preparation
to contribute to our intercultural world.
For more information on the National Summer Institute
on Promoting Multicultural Excellence, contact Fernando
Guzman at email@example.com or visit our Web site at www.du.edu/cme/.
Gose, B. 2007. The professoriate is increasingly diverse,
but that didn’t happen by accident. Chronicle
of Higher Education 54 (5): B1.
Hurtado, S., J. Milem, A. Clayton-Pederson, and W.
Allen. 1999. Enacting diverse learning environments:
Improving the climate for racial/ethnic diversity in
higher education. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report
(26: 8) Washington, D.C.: The George Washington University,
Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
Milem, J., M. Chang, and A. Antonio. 2005. Making
diversity work on campus: A research-based perspective.
Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges &
Turner, C. S. V., and S. L. Myers, Jr. 2000. Faculty
of color in academe: Bittersweet success. Needham
Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.