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Committee on Equal Opportunity

EQ.05.01 Annual Report for 2004-05

(Final - Information)

The Senate Committee on Equal Opportunity (EQ) is responsible for developing, encouraging, and evaluating the development of equal opportunity and affirmative action programs and guidelines that are intended to increase the numbers, and improve the status, of minority groups in the University community. A summary of issues concluded or considered at length by EQ during the 2004-05 academic year is provided below.

Campus Diversity

EQ.97.03, Climate for Ethnic Minorities

I.

Asian American Perspective on Diversity

The climate on campus for Asian American students, faculty, and staff was addressed by inviting Dr. Kent Ono (Director of Asian-American Studies) to meet with EQ. He identified several concerns regarding representation of Asian Americans among faculty on campus and made suggestions for improvement. For instance, Dr. Ono noted that there are few Asian American faculty members in leadership positions on campus. In his opinion, there has not been a concerted effort to hire Asian Americans for faculty positions and to promote them into administrative roles. He suggested that inclusion of Asian Americans as racial minorities for faculty recruitment through TOPS would be constructive.

Another observation offered by Dr. Ono pertained to the operational differences between the Asian American Studies Program and the Asian American Cultural House. Currently, the former is under the auspices of LAS and the latter is under the administrative oversight of the Vice-Chancellor for Student Services. He posited that the administrative separation of the two programs results in different and potentially conflicting goals and agendas at times. Since both programs exist to improve campus life for Asian American students, Dr. Ono felt that communication, coordination, and cooperation between the two should be frequent and continuous. He felt that a merger of the two programs should be considered in the future.

Dr. Ono indicated a desire to see continuous expansion on diversity topics among general education courses on campus. In particular, he feels that students across campus will benefit culturally and socially from greater exposure to Asian American content. In addition, he would like to develop an academic major for Asian American studies.


II. Fostering Dialogue on Diversity Among Students

EQ is keenly interested in the type and number of opportunities available for students from diverse backgrounds to interact and learn from each other. We continued our exploration into opportunities for dialogue on diversity by reviewing the university’s Program on Intergroup Relations (PIR). Dr. Joycelyn Landrum-Brown, Coordinator of PIR, attended an EQ meeting to describe the mission of the program. As part of the office of the Dean of Student Services, PIR offers dialogue courses on a variety of topics (e.g., gay/straight issues, Jewish/African American issues) for academic credit. PIR attempts to balance topics across gender, race, religion, and sexuality issues. Dr. Landrum-Brown noted that PIR teaches “dialogue” and not “debate.” The aim is to create a safe and congenial forum for students to exchange ideas, to dismiss stereotypes, to broaden cultural awareness, and to develop mutual respect.


Dr. Landrum-Brown indicated that PIR is part of a national research initiative on the educational effects of intergroup dialogues. The project evaluates the effects of race and gender intergroup dialogue courses at ten universities across the nation. Other Big Ten participants include Michigan and Wisconsin.

III. Equal Opportunity and Fairness at UIUC

To learn more about programs with similar purposes and goals to EQ’s, we invited staff from the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Access (OEOA) to meet with our committee. Ms. Larine Cowan, Assistant Chancellor and Director of OEOA, responded to our invitation and brought along Assistant Directors Pamela Pirtle and Katherine Whitecloud-Craig. Ms. Cowan provided EQ with a general overview of OEOA’s mission and objectives regarding the promotion of diversity, collegiality, access to education and resources, and compliance with state and federal laws governing inclusion and protection of civil liberties. According to Ms. Cowan, OEOA is the campus’ primary source of training on diversity and sexual harassment. In addition, Ms. Cowan indicated that OEOA would be launching “diversity discussions” between students, faculty, and staff. OEOA also offers guidance to campus administrators on issues related to the recruitment and retention of minority faculty and on issues related to affirmative action. For instance, Ms. Cowan noted that OEOA is a key proponent of the TOPS initiative and a frequent advisor to Deans on the hiring process of TOPS candidates. EQ requested and was provided the statistics for faculty representation by race.

Ms. Pirtle is the grievance officer at OEOA for matters concerning affirmative action, equal opportunity and access, sexual harassment, and disability discrimination. She ensures campus-wide compliance with federal laws such as the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Compliance is essential to help the university maintain federal funding, including student loans and research grants. Although grievances are naturally contentious, she indicated that OEOA strives to resolve differences between parties through fairness and sensitivity to the grieving party. She and Ms. Cowan applauded the central administration’s attitude to “do what is right” when the university is found wrong as a result of a grievance investigation. However, the university will defend itself against flagrant charges.

Ms. Whitecloud-Craig stated that her responsibilities at OEOA include recruitment of Native American students to the university. She noted that her task is complicated by the resolutions in many Native American communities which discourage enrollment at universities with Native American mascots. Ms. Whitecloud-Craig is coordinating meetings between campus administration and Native American leadership from across the country. These meetings have been delayed because of the transition in leadership at the university and central campus. Ms. Whitecloud-Craig has organized meetings of students on campus who have self-identified as Native Americans. The meetings are part of her efforts to create cohesiveness among the few Native American students at the university. In terms of student recruitment, EQ suggested that she expand her coalitions to include minority graduate student organizations in business, law, and health care.

IV. Perspectives by Interim Chancellor Herman

The Chair of EQ wrote Interim Chancellor Herman regarding the following two items: (1) status of the establishment of a multi-cultural living and learning community for undergraduate students and (2) the campus’ planned response to the North Central Association’s (NCA) suggestion that the controversy surrounding Chief Illiniwek interferes with the educational experience of students at our university. Interim Chancellor Herman responded to the Chair’s letter in writing and informed him that the new multi-cultural living and learning community had been established by Housing. He indicated that Associate Provost Ruth Watkins has worked closely with Housing on the creation of the dormitory environment and that all stakeholders are pleased with the initiative. The purpose of the community is to promote dialogue and understanding of diversity by assembling a balanced ratio of students by gender and race in a living environment.

In terms of the NCA’s report, Interim Chancellor Herman informed the Chair that he would instruct the Senate President (Michael Grossman) to appoint a committee to conduct an examination of the educational impacts of Chief Illiniwek. On behalf of EQ, the Chair offered to serve as an objective reviewer of the process. Interim Chancellor Herman and Senate President Grossman has appointed the Chair as an Ex Officio member of a six person committee to investigate the possible interplay between the controversy surrounding the Chief and the academic atmosphere at the university. The committee has been given the charge to design a study on the issue by the end of summer and conduct the study during the Fall, 05 semester.

As a result of an invitation from the Chair, Interim Chancellor Herman also visited with EQ during one of its monthly meetings. He shared his plans to increase minority enrollment by implementing a minority recruitment and retention program called Illinois Promise. The aim of the program is to assist economically disadvantaged residents in the state attend UIUC free of charge. It is hoped that many qualifiers for Illinois Promise will be minorities. He also explained the reduction in enrollment of new minority students this year by acknowledging some problems with admission reviewers, particularly in the Chicago metropolitan area. In addition, he noted that minority enrollments are lower at major universities across the country. Nonetheless, he restated his commitment to ensuring that education at UIUC “reflects the face of society.”

Flexible Tenure-Track Appointments

Senate President Michael Grossman inquired with Chair Alston about the results of EQ’s faculty survey concerning flexible tenure-track appointments. The Chair consulted with Dr. Linda Beale, who is a former member of EQ and one of the key developers of the survey and analyzers of faculty responses. The preliminary findings from the survey were sent to Grossman and Chair Alston made a brief report to the Senate Executive Committee. Senate President Grossman encouraged the Chair to proceed with the initiative and perhaps submit a resolution to be considered by the senate. Since the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women (CCSW) was a collaborator on the faculty survey, Chair Alston informed Senate President Grossman that he would consult with Dr. Kal Alston, Chair of CCSW. Dr. Kal Alston accepted an invitation from EQ’s chair to meet with his committee, but she requested attendance by Chair Alston at a monthly meeting of CCSW. Chair Alston accepted the invitation.

As Chair of CCSW, Dr. Kal Alston met with EQ and provided an update on her committee’s plans to proceed with the question of flexible tenure-track appointments at UIUC. She informed EQ of a national study being conducted and strongly suggested that UIUC participate or at least monitor the results before formulating a policy statement to forward to the senate. It was also agreed that other members of the Senate Executive Committee (e.g., Academic Freedom and Tenure, General University Policy) be asked to join the deliberations. In response to the suggestion that another faculty survey should be administered, Dr. Kal Alston recommended that our committees should evaluate the qualitative results from the first survey before embarking on another survey. During Chair Alston’s visit with CCSW, he participated with committee members in attempting to identify major themes in the comments from the open-ended questions on the survey. EQ and CCSW will continue to consult on the matter of whether the university should create a flexible tenure-track appointment system for faculty. Numerous questions about the parameters of such appointments require deliberation among campus faculty prior to the presentation of a proposal to the senate.

SENATE COMMITTEE ON EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

Reginald Alston, Chair

Ryan Capps

Belden Fields

Gary Kesler

Guillermo Mendoza

Jacqueline Priego

Ellie Tewksbury

Tiffany White