In your charge to the Affirmative Action Committee in May, you asked
us both to consider long-term strategies to support the University's
commitment to affirmative action and to recommend ideas that might be
implemented beginning in Fall Quarter 2000. In this memo, I report the
committee's recommendations for programs the University could begin
implementing this fall. We have already assembled considerable data
about long-term strategies and continue to examine those strategies.
The committee studied the Diversity Plan and strongly supports that
overall plan. All of our current recommendations build upon that plan.
We do not, however, view our recommendations as a complete prescription
for implementing the Diversity Plan. We understand that other committees
and administrators will be charged with that task. We focus here on
a set of initiatives that we believe will increase diversity on campus
while also (1) building support for the University's commitment to affirmative
action, and (2) establishing a foundation for programs that do not rely
upon traditional affirmative action principles if legal developments
force the University to abandon those principles. We perceive the latter
two criteria as the distinctive charge of our committee.
Our recommendations focus on five pressing needs: (1) making clear
the University's commitment to affirmative action; (2) developing a
system of accountability in all areas related to affirmative action;
(3) improving retention of African American and Latino/a undergraduates;
(4) increasing racial, ethnic, and gender diversity among faculty members
in departments lacking that diversity ; and (5) creating a dialogue
among all members of the University community to foster understanding
of and support for the University's commitment to affirmative action.
Dozens of other initiatives are essential to insure diversity at Ohio
State. It is crucial, for example, to increase racial, ethnic, and gender
diversity among graduate students in many departments, as well as to
build campus supports for other diverse populations (such as disabled
students and faculty or gay/lesbian/bisexual campus members). The five
target areas we identify here, however, are especially pressing. In
addition, addressing these needs will assist in reaching other goals.
Thus, we see the five building blocks identified below as the best "first
steps" for securing a strong commitment to affirmative action at Ohio
State. We have also focused here on steps that we believe would lay
a firm foundation for building diversity at Ohio State if legal developments
forced the University to abandon any consideration of race, gender,
or other characteristics in its admissions, hiring, and other actions.
We discuss each of the initiatives separately, although we also point
out the ways in which they are interrelated. These interconnections
reinforce our sense that these are the best foundation upon which to
build other initiatives related to affirmative action.
I. Make Clear the University's Commitment to Affirmative Action
The committee was impressed with the University's commitment to affirmative
action, as well as by the broad range of programs already in existence.
This news, however, tends to get lost at a University as large as Ohio
State. The committee believes it is essential to feature Ohio State's
commitment to both diversity and affirmative action as boldly as possible.
This initiative would be easy to accomplish during Fall Quarter. Indeed,
we believe many steps in this direction already are underway. A new
diversity website is being prepared; the committee has previewed that
website and is excited about its potential. We also responded to a request
from the President's Office to share information about existing affirmative
action programs so that the data could be included in a briefing book
for the President.
We recommend continuing these steps as vigorously as possible. We
understand that a button on the University's homepage will lead viewers
directly to the diversity site; we believe that ease of entry is essential.
The diversity webpage could be developed further to include additional
documents showing the University's support for affirmative action (such
as op ed pieces written by President Kirwan and other University administrators),
as well as information about why affirmative action is necessary. Links
in the latter category could include scholarly studies of persistent
racism and sexism, studies showing the positive effects of diversity
in the classroom, and interactive sites that allow visitors to consider
their own attitudes. Yale University, for example, maintains a site
that allows visitors to test their own unconscious attitudes on race,
gender, and age. We have attached as Appendix A a brief list of that
website and other sites with information about affirmative action research.
We have also shared this list with the team developing our own diversity
In addition to continuing work on our website, it is essential to
feature diversity and consider the needs of underrepresented groups
in all communications from the University. This includes obvious points,
such as representing minority women, minority men, and white women in
photographs of successful students and faculty, but it also includes
more subtle points such as considering the needs of those individuals
in designing communications. If minority women, minority men, and white
women have concerns that differ from those of white men, we need to
identify those concerns and address them routinely in University communications
if we want to recruit individuals from those groups to campus as students,
staff, or faculty.
The current legal climate, with legal challenges pending against the
University of Michigan's affirmative action programs, makes it especially
important for the University to take a strong stand in favor of our
own programs. We should set the agenda on diversity, not react to attacks
from outside groups. Communicating the University's support for affirmative
action, together with information about why affirmative action is necessary,
is the best way to build support for affirmative action at our University
and elsewhere. Several universities, moreover, have received very favorable
press for taking strong stands in favor of affirmative action. The University
of Michigan has remained firm in its support for its admissions programs--and
has received credit for that stance--and MIT was very well received
for its aggressive response to the report documenting widespread discrimination
Indeed, communications initiatives are likely to become more important
if the legal rules governing affirmative action change. The courts may
rule that universities can no longer consider race in admissions or
hiring--but that will not mean that universities cannot feature minority
women, minority men, and white women in their publications or that our
communications cannot communicate our strong support for a diverse campus
climate. In a post-affirmative action world, these communications will
be essential to attract and retain diverse students, faculty, and staff.
Designing those communications now will allow us to make that transition,
if legal rules force the transition upon us.
This step, finally, would strongly reinforce the other initiatives
we recommend. Communicating the University's strong commitment to affirmative
action would help establish systems of accountability (recommendation
2), retain African American and Latino/a undergraduates (recommendation
3), and increase racial, ethnic, and gender diversity among departmental
faculty (recommendation 4). Bold dissemination of this message would
also inform dialogues about affirmative action among campus members
II. Develop Strong Systems of Accountability
The Diversity Plan recommends that the University hold members of
the campus community accountable for diversity in hiring, admissions,
and other aspects of campus life. The committee strongly endorses those
recommendations as an essential "first step" in achieving affirmative
action goals. The University should start building systems of accountability
this fall, both so the University can track its success more effectively
and to send a strong signal about the importance of affirmative action
to all members of the campus community. The committee understands that
the process of designing these systems is already underway.
We believe that expectations related to affirmative action goals should
be stated clearly and that consequences for failure to pursue those
goals earnestly should be widely known and effectively applied. Administrators,
in particular, should understand clearly the costs of failing to comply
with affirmative action goals. Will department funds be lost? Will administrators'
salaries be affected? How will good faith efforts be measured and taken
into account if goals are not met?
We also think it would be useful to adopt a very specific tracking
system that audits the success of units. This type of system provides
feedback to the units, while also helping the University track success
(and failure). We have attached as Appendix B a copy of one system of
this type, used by the University of Wisconsin.
Accountability is at the foundation of all of our other recommendations.
In a University this large, actions occur in many decentralized locations.
Without accountability, affirmative action will always slip through
the cracks. If the University takes no other steps this fall, implementing
specific systems of accountability would be a major step toward achieving
affirmative action goals.
III. Improve Retention of African American and Latino/a Undergraduates
Many steps could be taken to improve the recruiting and retention
of minority students at both the undergraduate and graduate level, as
well as of female and other diverse students in many departments. The
committee, however, believes that the most pressing current need lies
in the retention of African American and Latino/a undergraduates. The
University already is moderately successful in recruiting those undergraduates,
but retention rates are dangerously low. For the class that entered
in Autumn 1994 (the most recent figures available), the five-year graduation
rate was 49.0% for white, non Latino/a students and 52.8% for Asian
American students, but only 30.2% for Latino/a students and 33.7% for
African American students. Pressing issues, especially involving climate,
exist for all minority students at the University, but we believe that
retention of African American and Latino/a undergraduates is especially
pressing at this time.
These low retention rates for African American and Latino/a undergraduates
both undercut the University's overall goal of maintaining a diverse
student body and create a dangerous climate of failure for minority
students, faculty, and staff on campus. That climate affects recruiting
and retention of minority faculty, as well as the experience of many
minority students who do remain on campus through graduation. Low retention
rates also feed anti-affirmative action sentiments on campus by suggesting
that affirmative action programs are wasteful. The same attitudes arise
among the public. Increasing the retention of African American and Latino/a
students will strike at the heart of many problems associated with diversity
and affirmative action on campus.
The committee recognizes that recruiting and retention of students
are strongly linked. If the University can attract better prepared African
American and Latino/a students (such as through the offer of minority
scholarships), then it is easier to retain those students. By focusing
on retention, we do not mean to dismiss efforts to improve recruiting.
Indeed, we hope that the University will improve its recruiting of all
minority students and will design programs to achieve those ends this
year. We focus here on retention because of its special relationship
to diversity if we must move to a "post Bakke world."
If the University must abandon traditional forms of affirmative action
in admissions, retaining admitted students will become even more imperative.
The University's record in retaining minority students, moreover, is
likely to become very important in recruiting minority students without
traditional affirmative action supports. High retention rates show that
the University really cares about minority students, and invests in
them; that affects our recruiting now and will affect it even more if
we must abandon race-based scholarships and other ways of recruiting
Perhaps most important, many alternatives to affirmative action involve
bringing large numbers of students with poor high school backgrounds
to campus. Programs focused on students from low socioeconomic backgrounds,
for example, admit students with the limited training public schools
in those areas often provide. Ironically, minority students with stronger
high school training often are excluded under these programs. Similarly,
programs like the Texas "ten percent solution" admit large numbers of
students--both white and minority--from academically deprived schools.
Texas and other schools have found that the need for academic support
programs increasing retention is even more important without traditional
forms of affirmative action than with it. Retention, in other words,
is a crucial issue now and may become even more essential in the future.
Now is the time to begin strengthening those programs.
Retention involves a broad complex of issues, including academic support,
financial aid, and climate. As a first step, the committee would focus
on academic support for African American and Latino/a undergraduates
needing that support. Academic success is at the very heart of retention.
Improving that success will provide an initial boost to climate for
the reasons described above. It will also help address financial aid,
as students retain eligibility for scholarships or establish sufficient
success in the classroom to allow part-time work.
We recommend focusing first on undergraduates for two reasons. First,
this is the largest group of students needing support so it is the area
in which the University can make the most difference. Second, establishing
strong academic support programs to increase retention of undergraduates
will send a strong signal to departments about the need to retain African
American and Latino/a graduate students. Retention issues for graduate
students seem to differ more by department than those for undergraduates
do. It may be productive for departments to begin examining their own
retention issues with African American and Latino/a graduate students,
within a University context that has established a strong commitment
to retaining African American and Latino/aundergraduates. We would encourage
a strong central commitment to retaining graduate students within the
next year or two, but we believe programs for undergraduates will provide
the best first step.
Following the same reasoning, some may suggest that the University
should push this "first step" even further back by supporting educational
improvements in primary and secondary schools. We strongly support those
efforts, but believe they should not come at the cost of academic support
for undergraduates already admitted to the University. Establishing
a firm commitment to minority students who are already on campus will
strengthen the University's credibility in outreach programs to primary
and secondary schools. Providing academic support for today's college
students will also inform those outreach programs by making clear the
areas in which students need stronger preparation.
Our committee lacks the expertise to recommend specific approaches
to improving academic support for African American and Latino/a students.
We recommend that the University begin by reviewing existing programs,
deciding whether those programs are effective (and/or would benefit
from further investment) or should be replaced with new approaches (with
funds reinvested in those new programs). The Office of Minority Affairs,
for example, already operates a mentoring program for minority undergraduates.
A first step might be expert evaluation of that program and the commitment
of funds to enhance it. Regular workshops focused on study skills, coping
skills, and skills for success might also help efforts in this area.
Based on the success of efforts this academic year, the program could
be expanded next year.
We also recommend that the University begin planning now for low-
or no-cost academic bridge programs in summer 2001. At other universities,
these programs have been quite successful in making sure that African
American and Lationo/a students succeed. Our own Term One has proved
successful for the small group of students included in that program;
we might consider expanding that program.
In recommending that the University invest in academic support to
enhance retention of African American and Latino/a students, we recognize
that these programs are costly and that success can be difficult to
achieve. The experience of universities that have been forced to abandon
affirmative action in admissions and scholarships, however, strongly
counsels investing in academic retention now. Those programs will benefit
students currently on campus and will become even more essential if
traditional forms of affirmative action end.
IV. Increase Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Diversity Among Faculty
in Departments Lacking that Diversity
In many departments, increasing the percentage of minority women,
minority men, and/or white women on the faculty is essential to achieving
the University's other diversity goals. Without a diverse faculty, the
University's commitment to affirmative action rings hollow, retention
of a diverse student body is difficult, and the promotion of a constructive
dialogue about affirmative action is problematic. Increasing faculty
diversity thus is key to the other goals listed here and in the Diversity
As noted above, accountability is essential to increasing diversity
in faculty hiring. In addition, we recommend two specific initiatives
that we believe will bolster this accountability. First, in addition
to other accountability systems, we believe that the Provost and Vice
Provost for Minority Affairs should meet during the fall quarter with
each College Dean to discuss the content of that College's Diversity
Plan and the College's strategies for achieving goals laid out in the
plan. We recommend that discussions should focus on at least these issues:
1. Strategies for increasing representation of minority women, minority
men, and white women on departmental faculties, based on each department's
need for additional diversity and the availability of individuals from
these groups in relevant pools. Both recruiting and retention should
be addressed. In recruitment, Colleges should be pressed to consider
the ways in which they have defined positions. Pools of minority women,
minority men, and white women are larger in some subfields than others.
We note that in some departments, the need for increased percentages
of minority women may be particularly acute. Discussion should also
focus on specific strategies for retention, including mentoring and
2. Development of a plan to increase hiring pools where those pools
3. Assurance that all staff have participated appropriately in sexual
harassment training and in diversity training.
4. Presentation and response to climate surveys.
A similar meeting should be held during the spring quarter to address
each College's progress on its diversity goals. That progress should
also be documented in an annual report.
Second, the committee recommends investment in the recently proposed
Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in the Americas. This
proposal is attractive for at least five reasons:
(1) It illustrates to departments how fields can be defined in a way
that will attract minority scholars, and creates an incentive for departments
to do that. A department planning to hire a media expert, for example,
might consider hiring an expert who has focused on the relationship
between minorities and the media. A search for an expert in a particular
health field might focus on a scholar who specializes in the unique
experience of minority patients in that field, in addition to having
a general expertise in the field.
(2) It dramatically demonstrates the concept that minority hiring
is associated with academic quality. The proposal for this Institute
makes an excellent case that Ohio State can enhance its academic reputation
by building an interdisciplinary Institute in this field. Indeed, the
Institute advances the goals identified in the University's new Academic
Plan. As departments see the relationship between this Institute and
the University's academic goals, attitudes will shift to embrace minority
hiring as consistent with (indeed, as an enhancer of) academic quality
and departmental reputation.
(3) The interdisciplinary Institute will help recruit and retain top
faculty members and graduate students to campus. Departmental goals
under new systems of accountability will be somewhat easier to attain.
(4) The Institute will also provide a "carrot" to departments at the
same time that they face the "stick" of accountability, because some
funding for these positions should be provided centrally.
(5) The Institute provides a foundation for other types of faculty
recruiting and retention if legal considerations force us to abandon
affirmative action. Because the Institute is defined by subject matter,
rather than by the race of individuals holding appointments in the institute,
it would survive challenges in a legal world hostile to affirmative
action. Starting to build the Institute now would give the University
a firm basis for recruiting and retaining minority faculty in an uncertain
In using the Race Institute as a way both to support accountability
and to improve faculty diversity directly, the committee offers two
caveats. First, the Institute may be sufficiently attractive that departments
will focus much more strongly on hiring minority faculty than female
faculty. The pool of talented minority females is large, and minority
women currently may be particularly underrepresented on some faculties,
so a conflict may not arise. Many departments, however, are as deficient
in hiring white female faculty as minority men and women. Some care
should be taken to insure that departments are held accountable for
increasing all types of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity.
Second, funding for the Institute should strike a middle ground between
centralized and departmental funding. Substantial support, including
money for new faculty lines, should come from the central administration
to (1) show a strong commitment to the Institute and minority hiring,
(2) allow the development of a top- quality Institute that will achieve
the intended reputational gains for the University, and (3) provide
some incentive to departments who lag behind in minority hiring. On
the other hand, most appointments should be made on a cost sharing basis
so that departments do not believe that the central administration will
"take care of" hiring minority faculty for them. Cost sharing will also
encourage departments to define existing searches in ways that are particularly
inclusive of fields that attract minority scholars.
V. Create a Dialogue About Affirmative Action
The Diversity Action Plan and this report place a premium on creative
decision- making with respect to issues of diversity and affirmative
action. More effective discourse will help with these goals; the committee
believes it is essential to create a dialogue about affirmative action.
The SRI Report on the Retention of Women and Minority Faculty and Staff
also stressed improved discourse as one of its key recommendations.
Those report authors made it clear that we need to learn to more effectively
reach common ground on issues that involve our deeply held values. We
should take advantage of the richness inherent in our diversity by sharing
and capitalizing upon our differing worldviews and experiences. We must
learn how to learn about our differences, and then use what we learn
to enhance our educational, social, and political environments. Our
proposal to create a dialogue about affirmative action represents a
realistic first step in that direction.
Specifically, the committee recommends a modified version of a program
operated successfully by the Association of American Law Schools. In
that program, a consultant and corps of trained facilitators are available
to law deans who need assistance developing constructive discussions
on divisive issues. This corps of consultants assists with the process
of moving from problem identification to the development of productive,
tangible outcomes. The consultants aim to have both the process and
the outcomes characterized by a spirit of candor, respect, and openness.
On this campus, we recommend that the Provost appoint a resource corps
of Ohio State administrators, faculty, staff, and students who are willing
to work with campus leaders needing assistance in the development of
constructive discussions and strategic planning around issues of diversity
and affirmative action. We also recommend that the Provost engage a
consultant, ideally an experienced administrator with expertise in facilitating
meetings on difficult issues. The consultant should serve as a sounding
board for the new resource corps, a trainer for that group, and an initial
guide for campus leaders seeking assistance. Together with the resource
corps, the consultant should guide the development of training, coaching,
and program marketing materials. While voluntary participation in the
program would be ideal, the program might also serve as a performance
management coaching tool for supervisors.
Increasing diversity and improving support for affirmative action
are daunting tasks. The Diversity Plan, however, provides an excellent
blueprint for achieving those goals. Ohio State, moreover, is fortunate
in having key central administrators committed to diversity. The committee
believes that the initiatives outlined above will achieve significant,
measurable gains during the coming academic year. At the same time,
these are initiatives that will both build a strong foundation for additional
programs and lay the groundwork for new approaches if legal developments
force the University to abandon traditional affirmative action principles.
The committee will continue its work throughout the fall quarter,
continuing to compile information about affirmative action alternatives
at other universities and to develop recommendations about building
support for affirmative action at Ohio State. Meanwhile, we hope these
recommendations respond to your initial request for initiatives that
could be implemented beginning in the fall quarter. The committee would
be very happy to meet with you if you would like to discuss the recommendations
in this report or provide other feedback to guide us this quarter. Please
let me know if you would like to arrange a meeting.
Current Committee Members and Resource Persons
Appendix A: Web Sites Related to Affirmative Action
The Affirmative Action and Diversity Project: A Web Page for Research.
This page has lots of information, as well as links to other affirmative
action sites. It is kept quite up to date.
2) http://www.auaa.org/ The Definitive
"Cyber-Primer" About AUAA AA News. This site has a useful collection
of materials, and serves as a model for how affirmative action materials
can be linked. The site, though, is somewhat out of date; it was last
updated in 1997.
Affirmative Action Public Sites. This site provides links to several
other sites with extensive information on affirmative action.
University of Rhode Island Affirmative Action page. This website, maintained
by another university, has links to many other web sites related to
diversity or affirmative action.
This site allows visitors to measure their own "implicit attitudes"
or stereotypes relating to age, race, and gender. The site, maintained
by scientists at Yale University and the University of Washington, also
has links to research related to their measurement of stereotypes.
Appendix B: Sample Tracking Forms from
the University of Wisconsin
The number of Native American students enrolled at the University
is very small; the committee did not obtain graduation rates for those
students. Although we believe retention efforts should focus on African
American and Latino/a undergraduates, the group showing the lowest graduation
rates, we believe these efforts will help enhance the campus climate
for all minority groups--as well as for white students, staff, and faculty--by
demonstrating the University's commitment to maintaining a diverse community.
The most important effect, of course, will be for the retained students