A growing need
While faculty diversity has increased some at universities across the nation over the past several decades, the growth in student diversity has far outpaced it. A study from the National Center for Education Statistics showed that in fall 2017, 76 percent of postsecondary faculty were white, but only 55 percent of undergraduate students were white.
In the fall of 2020, 75 percent of RIT faculty were white, while 62 percent of RIT undergraduate students were white.
This summer, the university unveiled a new Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity, a series of initiatives aimed at making the university more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
One of the three key pillars of the plan focuses on faculty and staff recruitment, retention, and advancement.
The plan outlines several strategies for the university to roll out over the next three years aimed at helping to close the gap in diversity between faculty and students.
Lorraine Stinebiser, director of faculty diversity and recruitment, said closing the gap won’t be easy.
“Faculty diversity is on the radar of every single institution,” Stinebiser said. “There has been a growing number of recruitment programs offered, including recruitment models similar to FFCEP. There’s competition all around. We need to continually work on developing new relationships and programs.”
FFCEP has long been an important avenue for RIT to grow diversity in the faculty ranks. Launched in 2003, the program has hosted hundreds of AALANA scholars since its inception, 23 of whom—including Borrego—have joined RIT’s faculty ranks.
Donathan Brown, assistant provost and assistant vice president for faculty diversity and recruitment, said he and his team work hard to prepare program participants for their next step—whether it is at RIT or somewhere else.
“In my mind, it’s not enough to engage you about RIT if I’m not providing at least some guidance about how to apply to RIT and beyond,” said Brown. “Our conversation is not only about RIT, who we are, what we do, and our current faculty and fellowship opportunities. We also talk about creating competitive faculty applications.”
Assistant Professor Katrina Overby participated in the program the same year as Borrego, joined RIT’s School of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts as a postdoctoral researcher in 2019, and transitioned to a tenure-track faculty role this fall.