Phi Beta Cons

The diversity mania marches on

Colgate University is worried about how to best balance the concerns of excellence in teaching and research, getting people for all the right academic subfields, and diversity, according to this article on Inside Higher Ed. Says the dean of the faculty, “When you have a more diverse faculty, there emerges a greater diversity in curriculum. Greater value is placed on difference.”
The ever-diversifying curriculum is among the problems in higher education.
It’s expensive to offer lots of boutique courses and those courses are rarely ideal for undergraduates who have all the academic weaknesses that are typical of most American students.
The piece also quotes a previous dean of the faculty who says, “If you have a university that has a predominantly white faculty, it’s that way for a reason, If you continue to do the same things over and over again, you will have the same faculty members.”
Are all white professors “the same?” I went to a liberal arts college where nearly all the faculty members were white. I certainly didn’t think they were all “the same,” though. Some were very good. Some were crummy. If the school had been on a diversity kick back then, it’s just as likely that the good professors wouldn’t have been hired as that the crummy ones wouldn’t have been. There’s no reason to believe that the quality of the faculty would have been improved if ancestry had been a key consideration in hiring.
If someone advocated a hiring policy that placed a high value on getting faculty members with differing musical tastes on the faculty, everyone would immediately think that a silly idea because the ability to teach a course doesn’t depend on whether one likes jazz, bluegrass, or opera. Why do we assume that where one’s ancestors lived is any more important?

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.