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Education

UNCG Has Nearly Doubled Its Black Faculty Since 2015

JASON NSIMMONS FLICKR UNCG.jpg
Jason Simmons
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Over the past six years, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has seen extensive growth in the number of Black faculty.

Since 2015, the school has nearly doubled the number of Black faculty members from 58 to 107. During that time, UNCG’s Latino faculty increased by 50% and its Asian faculty increased by 25%.

Black professors now make up about 9% of the university's full-time faculty. Nationwide, that number is only 5%.

Frank Gilliam is UNCG’s first Black chancellor. He came into his position with the expectation that the university will and hire and maintain diverse staff.

“I just made it clear that I expected that we would have a diverse pool of applicants and candidates to consider. And at that point, we choose the best ones,” he said. “I think that what I tried to do was bake it [diversity] into the culture of the institution."

He added that hiring committees sometimes have a lack of awareness which results in a lack of diverse staff.

"You therefore may lose more candidates, because you don't know what the heck you're doing,” he said. “You don't have any cultural competency and I'm not asserting that it's malicious or even consciously intentional, but it's so baked into the culture."

The culture change happened thanks to leadership and faculty who wanted to see a change. The school does not have a standalone diversity office.

Andrea Hunter, the Chancellor’s Fellow for Campus Climate and a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, works to promote diversity efforts on campus through panels and workshops about anti-racism, equity, and self-awareness.

She said the university can only benefit from having a diverse and inclusive faculty.

"It has positive impacts on productivity and resilience and adaptation,” she said. “Part of what you gain is, I think depth and breadth and excellence. Part of what our students gain is directly related to that in terms of our work as teacher-scholars, but also what we're going to bring to the classroom."

Hunter adds that their diverse student body also pushes them to bring in a more diverse faculty.

"They push us to think much more about who we are and what we bring to them. And they would like to see that diversity as well,” she said.

Student enrollment at UNCG has grown steadily for the last several years. It now sits at almost 20,000 students and that growth stresses the need for more professors.

As long as Chancellor Gilliam is at UNCG, he said he’ll ensure that hiring practices are reflective of both the student body and the country.

His next steps are to tackle diversifying leadership.

"Typically, universities will say, 'Well, we're committed to diversity,' and then they go out and hire a bunch of assistant professors who can be denied tenure and then leave,” he said. “What we want to do is diversify the department chairs, the associate deans, the deans, the vice chancellors, that's where many of the decisions are made. It's important to do that."

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