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
  • Share

Most Commented

July 12, 2023


Scott Gerber’s Case in Context

Ohio Northern University seems intent on chiseling into granite its protocol for getting rid of a faculty member who disagrees with the institution’s woke ideology, even when the......

July 19, 2023


On Collegiality

Increasingly, collegiality is being added to the traditional triad of excellence that wins professors tenure. And now, the issue of collegiality is a fraught minefield, and has become&#......

June 20, 2023


Letter: Academic Freedom Requires More Than Words

There is still no word from Ohio Northern University administrators after their removal of Professor Scott Gerber without due process—a clear violation of Gerber's rights......

Most Read

April 14, 2023


Faculty Fight for Academic Freedom at Harvard

While many faculty quietly endorse views they privately disagree with, Harvard faculty band together to resist administrative overreach, overzealous students, and protect academic freedom....

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...