The Oversight Panel is a small group of faculty, staff and undergraduate and graduate students, originally appointed by  the Vice-President of Arts, Sciences & Engineering, who are charged with examining progress in the implementation of recommendations presented in the Final Report of the Task Force on Race (December 1997). We met 14 times between September 2000 and November 1, 2001.   

Panel Activities

We set our goals to continue the review, begun ’99-’00, of the status of curricular gaps identified by the Task Force (in Asian American, Latino/Latina, and Native American areas) and to examine the issues involved in hiring faculty to teach in these areas. We set as a goal to examine the recruitment and retention of minority faculty and (in some areas) women faculty. We interviewed in depth several administrators (Bernstein, Fawaz, Ernst, Davies) concerning faculty recruitment and retention in the context of curricular gaps as well as faculty diversity.

We proposed and the Deans and Vice President concurred, to modify the annual letter to departments soliciting proposals for faculty positions for the coming year.  In the future, the letter will include a statement, “In the rationale for your position request, please note that addressing curricular gaps in areas related to race and ethnic studies is encouraged and will be seriously considered.”  For 2001, the letter included “We are particularly interested in making progress in Latino/Latina and Asian American curriculum.”

We reported briefly to the university community at the Arts, Sciences & Engineering Faculty meetings October 30, 2000 and October 22, 2001. These reports (15- and 10-minutes respectively) were used to present a sampling of our findings. While they  were well-attended by faculty and a few students, and better attended than previous events scheduled during the spring semester in prior years, they were not effective at engaging discussion because no time was allotted (though it had been requested in our request to placed on the agenda).

We developed, tested and implemented an electronic version of the annual survey questionnaire developed earlier by the Panel ’98-‘99, which queries A,S,E offices who would be responsible for implementing specific recommendations from the Report of the Task Force on Race. We had considerable assistance from Tsvika Klein and Michaele Whelan of the Vice President’s office. Beginning with the 2001 year, this electronic questionnaire will accommodate a 5-year storage of data on self-evaluation of progress by university offices responsible for implementation of specific recommendations. It will require annual attention to determine which offices are responsible for implementing specific recommendations, and to download and tabulate the resulting responses.

We published in the Tufts Daily in October 2000 brief puzzlers and questions to engage Daily readers with statistics and policies related to diversity issues, and to direct attention to the university diversity websites We considered, developed, and preliminarily tested a faculty survey to list and publicize courses whose primary focus concerned race, or which included discussion of the intersection of race and issues that are the primary focus of the course. We abandoned this effort after it became apparent in preliminary testing that few faculty responded. At issue is the difficulty of distinguishing, without instructor involvement, which of many possible courses focus on race and its relationship with power, or critically examine intersections of race with other issues.

With the reorganization of administration and elimination of the Office of the Vice President of A,S&E in August 2001, the Oversight Panel finds its mandate and reporting responsibilities diffused among administrative offices; it has lost its administrative liason (and therefore its voice in Ballou Hall) and its ability to recruit new members. Its functions face loss because the Panel is not institutionalized. We seek institutionalization of the Panel’s critical functions, which we view as three:

Areas of Progress and Areas of Concern

 Ø      The Panel expresses continuing concern that the Office of Equal Opportunity, a university-wide office, continues to report to Human Resources rather than to the Office of the President, as occurred in the past and was recommended by the Task Force. We urge a restoration of reporting directly to the President to maintain direct communication on diversity issues.

 Ø      Admissions of undergraduate students of color has risen steadily over the past several years, particularly among African American and Latino/Latina students. But recruitment of Asian American students has continued a several year decline  for the Class of ‘05, and Tufts continues to lag behind its regional and national comparable schools. We hope the recruitment in May ’01 of an Asian American intern by the Admissions office will contribute to improvement in this area.

 Ø      The Diversity Fund of the Vice President’s office supported increased programming related to race and ethnicity including a multi-year Curricular Transformation Project  (first begun in ’99-’00) focused on enabling faculty to incorporate materials related to race and specific groups. The Panel notes considerable effort by faculty this past 2 years to develop curriculum and programming in the three areas of urgent concern  identified by the Task Force—Asian American, Latino/Latina and Native American. This support, and the considerable work invested by faculty and EEOC in particular, resulted in well-attended programs and workshops for faculty and students in Native American areas (’00-’01) and Asian American areas (’00-’01 and fall ’01). These activities, and the curricular transformation activities in Latino/Latina areas (’01-’02) complement the continuing development of African American programming also supported by the  Diversity Fund.

 Ø      Recent successful recruitment of tenure-track faculty of color has occurred—and several of these new faculty will teach in areas identified as major gaps by the Task Force—these faculty are already teaching new courses related to Latino/Latina studies. Faculty searches in ’99-’00 and ’00-’01 (Sociology & Anthropology, Romance  Languages, Art & Art History) successfully recruited 3 new tenured/tenure track faculty to teach courses directly in Latino/Latina areas, as well as related Latin American areas. The Panel notes considerable progress in Latino/Latina areas.

 Ø      However, curricular gaps remain, notably in Asian American areas, where our offerings are represented by a handful of courses. The Panel is disturbed that there were no searches in Asian American areas in ’99-’00, ’00-’01, and none for ’01-’02. In Asian American and Native American areas, the handful of courses at Tufts continues to be taught by part-time non-tenure-track faculty, some of whom have taught these courses since 1985. Because these faculty are hired from year-to-year, however, these courses have never been listed in the university bulletin and are not institutionalized in our curriculum. Although the Curriculum Transformation Initiative will enable existing faculty to revise courses to incorporate Asian American material, an urgent need remains for a tenured/tenure track Asian American scholar. The Panel pinpointed a need for deans to work with departments and programs to develop position proposals, and for deans to promote faculty recruitment both to address curricular gaps and to increase faculty diversity. At issue is how to effectively provide incentive for departments to collaborate with programs to propose faculty positions in this area when (a) departments have departmental agendas for specific subfields, and (b)  departments have widely varying commitment to responding to vocal student concerns about this area.

Ø      The Panel was one of three groups—the other two are Equal Educational Opportunity Committee, EEOC, and the Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Retention convened last year—to express urgent concern about the wide disparity between rates of retention for faculty of color and white faculty and between women and men faculty in some areas. Recent statistics compiled by the office of Diversity Education & Development, and distributed to the ASE ‘ meeting provide strong evidence that good intentions are not enough.  We believe it is time to move beyond further general study of the issues, and beyond issues we cannot control directly (for example the racial climate in Boston and its consequences for housing). Workshops for departments and administrative units, preferably facilitated by personnel who do not work side by side with Tufts faculty and administration in other contexts, would assist faculty and administration to think more imaginatively and sympathetically about how to implement stated goals to hire and retain faculty of color and women faculty.  We urge that departments holding such workshops be rewarded for engaging some threshold percentage of faculty attendance within a timeframe, for example, the next two years.

We also join EEOC and the Ad Hoc Committee to endorse the proposal made by the Pan African Alliance, a student group at Tufts, to implement an exit-interview process for faculty who leave voluntarily. We commend this student group on the work they have done to develop this proposal; we note that with honesty and integrity, they initiated and developed work far beyond what a group of students should reasonably be expected to do.

We further urge the administration to authorize the Office of Diversity education and development to engage a consulting firm to begin to implement such a processes in A,S & E to interview both faculty of color who left voluntarily in the recent past, and  faculty of color currently tenure track or recently tenured. As noted by the Pan African Alliance Proposal, such information would be confidential and would be made available only in aggregate. (As of November 2001, implementation of this proposal has begun, according to the Office of Diversity Education & Development.)

In sum we think substantial progress has been made in faculty recruitment. We commend the administration for its efforts and recent successes with department to hire faculty of color. But we also think it is time to decide to implement recommendations within A, S and E that will facilitate progress in areas where we have found ourselves frustrated for many years of many committees and many reports.

Faculty Recruitment & Retention

The Panel examined issues related to faculty hire and retention—in the context of both faculty diversity and curricular gaps. The entire Panel talked in depth with several administrators—Vice President for A,S&E Mel Bernstein, Dean of Arts & Humanities Leila Fawaz, Dean of Natural & Social Sciences Susan Ernst, and Margery Davies, Affirmative Action Officer for A,S&E. In addition, the Chair and individual students from the Panel held additional meetings to talk in depth with these Deans and Dean of Engineering Ioannis Miaoulis, Dean of the Graduate School Rob Hollister, and Dean of Undergraduate Studies Charles Inouye.

The faculty recruitment cycle begins when departments discuss position requests. Departments respond to the Deans’ call for position proposals, usually made in February of  year 1, by submitting requests for positions in specific areas, usually submitted in April of year 1. The decision-making group, prior to the administrative reorganization of October 2001, included the Dean of Arts & Humanities, the Dean of Natural & Social Sciences, the Dean of Engineering, the Dean of the Graduate School; the Dean of Undergraduate Studies was consulted but not a full party to deliberation of departments’ requests. This group considers departments’ requests, and usually notifies departments during the summer to authorize faculty searches to begin in the fall of year 1  or to decline the department request(s).

In recent years, the Deans have authorized searches for about one-third of the positions requested by departments. If new faculty are successfully recruited, they then begin their appointments in September of year 2. Therefore 18 months (February year 1 to September year 2) is the minimum time required from departmental discussion to a new professor actually teaching.

The Deans work with departments on position requests, but cannot authorize a search for a position if a department has not requested a particular position. Thus without departmental initiative, no position filling a curricular gap can be authorized. Interdisciplinary programs may approach departments about proposing joint positions aimed at filling curricular gaps, but there appear to be no incentives for departments to cooperate with the interdisciplinary programs to do this in relation to regular tenure track appointments. The Panel notes that although Deans cannot initiate requests, they may have considerable influence in consultation with departments as position requests are written.

Window of Opportunity appointments offer departments possible incentive to work with programs to propose joint appointments, since these appointments are incremental (additional) to regular faculty positions. Window of Opportunity appointments may be made in areas where there are likely to be large proportions of scholars who would increase Tufts’ faculty diversity with respect to race, and in some cases, gender.  Window appointments may also be used to recruit specific individuals who would increase a department’s faculty diversity with respect to race, and in some cases, gender.

In consultation with the Deans, the Vice President, and Margery Davies of the Office of Diversity Education &  Development, the Panel recommended additions to the letter soliciting position requests from departments. In the future, the letter will include a statement, “In the rationale for your position request, please note that addressing curricular gaps in areas related to race and ethnic studies is encouraged and will be seriously considered.”  For 2001, the letter included “We are particularly interested in making progress in Latino/Latina and Asian American curriculum.”

Once recruited to tenure track positions, faculty stay at Tufts at different rates in relation to race and in some cases, gender. Retention rates for faculty of color (and  women faculty in engineering) are substantially lower than those for white faculty and men faculty in engineering. Particularly disparate are the rates for African American faculty in comparison with white faculty; most African American faculty who leave do so voluntarily, that is, rather than being terminated by failure to attain tenure, or retiring.

The Panel’s discussion led to its support of an initiative proposed by the Pan African Alliance, a student group, concerning exit interviews of African American faculty (and all faculty) to determine reasons for departure. This initiative is now in process of implementation (see p. 3-4 of this report for further details).

The APPENDIX that follows summarizes specific recommendations and the Panel’s summary assessment of progress in their implementation. Answer to individual self-evaluation questionnaires sent to each office responsible for implementation of a particular recommendation, are available from the Chair of the Oversight Panel.  This website provides the text of the Report of the Task Force on Race (December 1997) This website provides the text of Oversight Panel Reports from ’98-’99, ’99-’00, and ’00-’01, as well as a variety of university statistics related to diversity.

Oversight Panel members, Sept. 2000- Nov. 2001: Faculty: Francie Chew, Chair (Biology / American Studies), Paul Aymer (Sociology & Anthropology), Jeffrey Berry (Political Science), Sharan Schwartzberg (Occupational Therapy). Staff: Janet Zeller (Tufts  Daycare / Child Development). Graduate Student (Lisette Garcia (Psychology). Undergraduate students: Margery Yeager (’01), Carl Jackson (’03), Julia Karol (’04), Mernaysa Rivera (’02, who served ’99-’00, was away ’00-’01 and has returned Sept. ’01). Administrative liason: Michaele Whelan,  ex officio.