The indispensable KC Johnson has a must-read post in his “Durham in Wonderland” blog detailing how even elite universities manage to populate their faculties with political radicals whose commitment to leftist causes is unquestioned, but their scholarship is suspect (at best). The post is an excellent primer for those with little or no exposure to the inner workings of faculty search committees, and even a jaded cynic like me was surprised by some of the revelations — including a proposal at the University of Arizona to make the “advancement of diversity” the “primary” indicator of quality in faculty hiring. KC explains:
The plan, part of a broader emphasis on diversity in hiring at Arizona, envisions a university in which “diversity” rather than academic quality becomes the primary motive for hiring, promotion, and tenure. According to the campus diversity plan, in faculty personnel matters, “In order to make significant progress in creating a more diverse faculty and a campus that truly embraces diversity, the advancement of diversity must be established as a primary indicator of quality.” Until diversity, the report concludes, “is included in the institutional family of primary indicators of quality, other indicators will continue to trump it – especially in the hiring of new faculty.” The U of A contends that “this does not mean lessening our commitment to excellence in research and teaching,” but such a claim is absurd: research and teaching, according to the “diversity” plan, will have to meet an ideological litmus test before being judged on their quality. Indeed, the plan argues, “Depending upon the discipline,” new faculty should be required to “conduct research and contribute to the growing body of knowledge on the importance of valuing diversity.
Unfortunately, however, even public exposure of programs like Arizona’s often do little to change the facts on the ground. When questioned by legislators or the media, establishment academics take advantage of the fact that — to the general public — words and terms like “diversity” and “social justice” still have their common meaning and have not become radicalized. “Who could be against diversity?” they indignantly ask. “Are you really opposed to social justice?” And then the argument ends. We still have much work to do educating legislators, judges, and the general public about the real meaning of academic jargon.