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Experiences Working With Diverse Faculty

Approximately 13% of full-time faculty members at UMM are faculty of color. This percentage is slightly lower than the 15% faculty diversity that was present at the time of the last accreditation review. Still, it represents a higher rate of diversity than the surrounding area (4.3%) and the state of Minnesota (11.8%). As part of their general education program, our candidates have the opportunity to work with these and other professors with a range of academic and personal experiences. Secondary candidates, in particular, work with a diverse faculty as they complete over 40 credits within their major and thus study under nearly all faculty members in the discipline.

Our regional school-based faculty members are nearly 100% white, reflecting the demographics of the surrounding area. However, our candidates are required to complete at least one field experience in a diverse or cross-cultural setting. In these settings, they have opportunities to work with cooperating teachers or other school faculty members who are from diverse groups. Every one of the 18 elementary education candidates who graduated in 2008 participated in the Rural-Urban project and completed a field experience in urban Chicago classrooms. In the Chicago schools, the candidates met with the building principals and assistant principals, all of whom were people of color. Most (78%) of the cooperating teachers were also people of color. Seventeen of the 18 graduates also completed their clinical experience in a diverse setting with additional opportunities for interaction with faculty from diverse groups.

Building on the success of the Rural-Urban project in Chicago, a secondary education professor is creating the New Orleans Project. In this initiative, secondary candidates will have the opportunity to participate in a service-learning field experience. They will work with students and teachers of color in New Orleans public high schools. The initiative, supported by single-semester leave funds and by the faculty research enhancement fund, will officially begin in 2009.

Knowledge and Experience

Though the professional education faculty at UMM does not currently represent an ethnically diverse group (NCATE Table 8), we do offer a wide range of background, experience, and study that allows us to support the needs of our candidates as they prepare to work with all students. Current and recent faculty members have taught in a variety of diverse settings including rural, suburban, and urban public schools in Minnesota and other states in the Midwest; public schools in Southern California; and international schools in Asia.

All of the tenured faculty members have extensive experience and expertise in working with diverse populations, both domestic and international. The current interim director and the former director of the UMM Global Student Teaching Program are members of our professional education faculty. The program, which allows candidates to teach in many different international settings, requires collaboration with schools in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Africa. Other school-based projects include the design of student teaching centers in Chicago and El Paso. Supervision and visits to schools in diverse settings are a regular part of faculty workload.

Faculty members also conduct research related to diversity. In fact, a review of faculty research will reveal topics that include multicultural education, international studies, place-based education, whiteness, identity, power and class, advocacy and equity for parents, and learning styles. This work impacts faculty growth and understanding. It informs their instruction and benefits their students.

Recruitment and Retention

When recruiting faculty, we are actively committed to policies of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and to University guidelines for Recruiting a Diverse and Qualified Pool of Applicants.

The 2005 search to fill an elementary education tenure-line position resulted in the successful hire of a candidate who brought a very different set of experiences, language, and perspectives to our faculty and to our candidates. A native Taiwanese, he had taught middle school in Taiwan and had taught courses at the college level in the US while completing his doctorate. As part of UMM efforts to help him succeed and stay at UMM, he received a mentor, faculty research enhancement funds, international travel funds, and new-faculty training. At the end of his third year, he decided to accept a position at a university closer to an urban center.

In the most recent search, the vacant secondary tenure-line position was listed on the University of Minnesota employment system. It was advertised on, The Chronicle in print and online, and the Native American Press. Information letters were sent to members of the CIC Directory and distributed at meetings of the Minnesota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Educational Research Association, and National Association of Multicultural Education. The efforts yielded a diverse pool as well as diversity in the group of applicants brought to campus for interview. While we had candidates who we felt were qualified and a good match for us, we were not able to complete a successful search.

When we begin our next searches, we will again be assertive in following the guidelines and procedures that will help us fill our vacant positions with highly qualified faculty who will add to the diversity of our teaching faculty.

The data reported in Table 8 are from the 2007-2008 academic year and reflect the faculty characteristics of the previous three years. However, with the departure of the elementary education colleague who took a different position and the retirement of a senior colleague, our teacher education faculty has lost most of its gender and ethnic diversity. One adjunct faculty member who this year teaches our foreign language methods class was born in Venezuela and offers an international perspective. We are a faculty populated by women who are effective teachers and scholars and who assume leadership roles on campus and across the state.