III. Increase Diversity Among Faculty and Students in the Department

Faculty. The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University are committed to the promotion of a diverse community, one in which students, faculty, and staff venture from their comfort zones for the sake of learning, develop a critical perspective on the creation of difference, and pursue self-exploration with the knowledge that understanding yourself requires engagement with others" (Presidential Commitment, 2011). By virtue of this commitment, the Intercultural Direction Council met and agreed to begin to address the challenges listed above in conversation with members from the several areas, one of which is Human Resources (Goals, 2011).

          Recruiting faculty of color poses challenges for our rurally located institution. As of Fall 2010, faculty of color made up eight percent of CSB/SJU faculty. The demographic data of faculty are as follows:

Table 4: CSB/SJU Full-time Faculty Demographics

Institution American Indian or Alaskan Native Asian Black or African American Hispanic or Latino Hawaiian/Pacific Islander White Total
CSB 0 7 0 4 3 169 183
SJU 1 6 1 6 0 153 167
Total 1 13 1 10 3 322 350

     

          During its recent searches for new faculty members to replace retiring colleagues, the CSB/SJU Education Department, guided by the colleges' human resource specialists sought a wider pool of applicants.  We placed advertisements for positions in multiple publications to reach a range of racial, cultural, and ethnic groups (See Attachment E).  We sent position descriptions to 44 colleges and universities (see Attachment F). We used professional and social networks to inform and potentially attract a range of applicants (Linked-In, MACTE meetings). Despite our efforts, we attracted few applicants of color.  While we were fortunate to be able to invite a candidate to accept our offer of a tenure track position in Spring 2007, that individual accepted the position, signed a contract, but later declined to join the department due to unforeseen personal constraints.  The department renewed the search process the following year but was unable to successfully attract another minority candidate.

          While the Education Department, like our colleges, is committed to active, ongoing recruitment of faculty of color as positions open, we have continued to welcome guest instructors of color to our campus and courses. During Spring 2011 we employed a Native American adjunct instructor who was also employed full-time at a neighboring university. We continue to invite guest lecturers to our classes who are racially, culturally, or ethnically diverse to share their knowledge and experience with our students. Table 5 outlines those guest lecturers of color who visited with our students during the 2010-11 academic year.

Table 5: 2010-2011 Education Department Guest Lecturers

Course Asian Black/African American Hispanic Native American
EDUC 111 1
EDUC 341 1 1
EDUC 390 1 4 1 2

 

          The Education Department hosts guest lecturers from GBLT backgrounds, those with disabilities, and specialists who explore economic disparities with our candidates. 

Students.  Our two colleges have continued to affirm their continuing commitment to inviting a "diverse community of students, faculty, and staff" to join our communities (Strategic Directions, 2015). To reach this goal, the colleges pledge to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the student population (Strategic Directions, 2015). This institutional objective is particularly relevant for the Education Department.  Of the total number of students enrolled by Minnesota's private colleges, excluding international students, 15.3 % declared themselves to be students of color, an increase from 8.2 % in 2000 (Minnesota Private Colleges, 2010).

As we might expect, colleges located in the Twin Cities metropolitan area enjoyed the greatest increase in American students of color.

          Despite our rural location and distance from an urban cultural setting, we have experienced some success in recruiting and retaining students of color.  During the period from 1999 to 2011, our colleges increased their enrollment of American students of color from 3.7 to 8.7 percent at CSB and from 2.8 to 9 percent at SJU, excluding an even larger increase of international students during that same period. During the 2010-11 academic year, 91% of American students at CSB and SJU classified themselves as White. When international students are included in our search for diverse learners enrolled by both our colleges, a total of 14.6 % of the combined CSB/SJU student population represents diverse racial, cultural, or ethnic groups (CSB/SJU Institutional Planning & Research).

          The proportion of students from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural groups who are enrolled at CSB/SJU generally reflects the demographics of the Saint Cloud Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is centered in a predominantly rural area of Minnesota. Over the past ten years, the City of Saint Cloud, however, has welcomed an increasingly diverse population with the arrival of refugee families from Somalia and other African nations joining earlier immigrants from Southeast Asia and Mexico. Immigration is also a factor in the greater diversity of the Minneapolis and Saint Paul metropolitan area. Census data from 2010 found that Minneapolis is 63% white, while its sister city is 64 % white. Central Minnesota, much of which falls within the Sixth Congressional District, is 90.3% white.

          Although Central Minnesota public school enrollment is the least diverse of any region in the state, public school enrollment of students of color in the City of Saint Cloud has increased significantly and is expected to continue to increase. Enrollment in Saint Cloud schools serving diverse neighborhoods reflects increased immigration over the past decade.  Talahi Community School in south Saint Cloud, for example, enrolls many students eligible for the federal lunch program (78% in 2010) and fewer white students than other elementary schools (42%), a student population that exceeds the racial diversity of many urban schools in the Twin Cities. 

          While CSB and SJU strive to attract, enroll, and retain a geographically diverse student body, drawing students from well beyond the center of the state, our two institutions increased the number of students of color in the past decade. The CSB/SJU Education Department has also enjoyed an increase in students of color pursuing teacher licensure. During the 2010-2011 academic year 32 multicultural or intercultural candidates declared themselves to be Elementary Education majors or Secondary Education minors.

Table 6: Students of Color Declaring an Education Major or Minor

Enrolled at CSB or SJU ELED as first major ELED as second major SCED as first minor SCED as second minor
Multicultural (U.S.) 309 13 1 8 5
Intercultural LEAD 73 4 0 1 0

 

          As the colleges work to recruit and retain more students of color, the Education Department does so as well through relationships with partnership programs to encourage middle school students to attend college and to consider teaching as a profession.  In recent years the Education Department has invited students from two of our urban school partners, San Miguel and Risen Christ (Table 2), to attend a full day of college classes and recreational activities. Such visits provide our guests with a glimpse of college life while planting the idea that they might become college students themselves. Our candidates volunteer as guides and participate with students in the activities planned for them. The colleges provide financial support to transport students to the colleges and return them to their urban schools.  

          During fall semester we invite students from one of our Saint Cloud partner schools, South Junior High (Table 2), to the CSB campus for a "Culture Day" offering instruction, activities, and the cuisine of a selected nation.  The cost of transportation, meals, and activities is provided by the colleges. As with students who visit from Risen Christ and San Miguel, we encourage middle level students from South to consider college as a viable option for their future and education as a career worth pursuing by reducing some of the "mystery" of enrolling in a college and preparing for a life of the mind. 

          As with our review of diversity experiences developed for our licensure candidates, we have set goals for attracting, recruiting, and retaining students and faculty of color for our department.  The colleges' 2015 Strategic Directions Plan sets the agenda for efforts to increase the diversity of those who apply for admission to increase the diverse or our enrolled student body. The 2015 plan calls for American Students of Color to represent 12% of our enrollment.  To reach this level, our combined Admission Office will complete several related objectives.

  • Build on and expand visit programs (including group visits, individual, fly-in weekends).
  • Capitalize on social media opportunities.
  • Increase visibility nationally and in Twin Cities.
  • Continue to provide support for the Intercultural-LEAD steering committee.
  • Dedicate a staff member to serve on the SJU First Generation committee.
  • Continue to build relationships with Access Program leaders/mentors.
  • Enhance promotion of Intercultural-LEAD and Benedictine Scholarships.
  • Continue to invest in staff development (particularly as it relates to diversity)

            (Backes, personal communication, 10 May, 2011)

          The Education Department has also set improvement goals related to increasing the diversity of our department faculty and enrolled students.  

Goal 1: Build relationships with professional organizations to enhance our social "networking," thereby increasing applicants of color for future faculty positions.

Goal 2: Build relationships with universities enrolling graduate students of color to enhance our social networking, thereby increasing applicants of color for faculty positions.

Goal 3: Network with CSB/SJU Education Department graduates teaching in diverse settings to identify and support students of color who may be recruited for the teaching profession.