By MEGHAN HOLLAND, Staff Reporter |
Amarillo College administrators say that AC has a richly diverse culture, so the college tries to reflect that on campus by having appropriately diverse faculty members and by providing student clubs and organizations that support diversity.
“We can do better, and we are striving to do better to try to recruit more diverse faculty to mirror the population of our students,” Dr. Tamara Clunis, vice president of academic affairs, said.
AC does not currently have a strongly diverse faculty, Clunis said, but is working to expand the applicant pool. “This has been the best year we’ve had. It is a top priority under the college’s strategic planning and equity,” she said.
AC has been “reaching out to historically black colleges and Hispanic associations for higher education for administrative personnel” along with other strategies to recruit diverse faculty, said Clunis. This process includes going through trainings with academic leaders on how to recruit people.
“Those strategies that have been used in the past of just posting jobs in a higher education magazine are not deliberate strategies,” Clunis said.
The history of the college has not been successful in having a diverse faculty, but it is now more of a priority, she said.
The classroom is also a focus for the college. “We are working on training faculty on culturally responsive teaching practices that support students regardless of who is in front of them as their instructor,” Clunis said.
Diversity is something that the college strives for daily, according to employees in the employee and organizational development department, which handles human resources functions.
“There is a lot of outreach just within the community,” Cindy Lanham, EOD coordinator, said. “AC reaches out to church groups and organizations that serve all of the cultural populations. They have been invited to collaboration meetings to talk about our hiring practices and what we need to do to get our job postings out there to community and reach everybody.”
Some students said they are more concerned with qualifications of the faculty rather than with diversity. “I’m Hispanic, but I don’t need a Latino male to teach me,” Omar Nevarez, a business major, said. “At the end of the day, you need to hold actual performance and ability above anything else.” He said that diversity is nice, but it is more about teaching qualifications for him.
Clunis said that a reason to increase faculty diversity is to ensure that the students are able to relate to the faculty. Nevarez, who recently enrolled at AC after attending Texas Tech University for one semester, said that it is easy to talk to the professors.
He said that at TTU, he had classes of about 400 students, so even as an active participant in class, the professors did not know his name at the end of the semester. Now he said that the professors know him and have already started building a relationship with him.