Virginia Tech Must Eliminate Diversity Requirements

Ashley Thorne

Several weeks ago I drew attention to Virginia Tech putting pressure on faculty members to prove their commitment to “diversity and inclusion” while being evaluated for tenure.  VT’s outgoing provost, Mark McNamee, replied in the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the promotion and tenure guidelines allow but don’t require faculty members to supply examples of diversity activities. “It says may — not must,” he wrote.

I replied in the article’s comments:

Dr. McNamee, while there are a few places that use the word "may," there are others that use the word "should" (see full document, and a full list of the problematic sections). For example:

- Executive summary: "Candidates should include a list of activities that promote or contribute to inclusive teaching, research, outreach, and service.”

- Statement by dept head "should include": “Information regarding the candidate’s contributions to an inclusive campus and collegial workplace at Virginia Tech.”

- Candidate's statement: “This statement should provide all reviewers with a clear understanding of the candidate’s research and creative activities; teaching, outreach, and extension achievements; international activities; and active involvement in diversity and inclusion.”

- The promotion and tenure dossier "should provide" information about the candidate's pursuit of "training in inclusive pedagogy."

In the other cases, the repetition of calls for identifying diversity-related activities clearly indicates that not doing so would cause the candidate to be seen as deficient. 

Virginia Tech needs to address and correct this troubling language. As they currently stand, the tenure guidelines unfairly ask faculty members to embrace an ideology about which they can reasonably disagree. 

Image: "Donaldson-Brown Virginia Tech" by Eric T. Gunter / CC BY
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