November 6, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 38  

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Does U of T make the grade? Employment equity examined

By Chris Sinal
Gazette Staff

At Ontario universities, diversity and equity within the faculty population is often heard as a theme from institutional leaders. Yet, are these words followed by actions? How does one measure whether faculties are, in fact, on course to diversify their professoriate?

The University of Toronto administration has stated publicly its desire to encourage diversity and equity within its faculty (as well as student) population and outlined what methods are taken to ensure this policy is implemented in the recruitment of new faculty.

"Equity, diversity and excellence are key priorities at the University of Toronto," says Angela Hildyard, vice-president of human resources and equity at U of T. "This was stated... by the Provost in the White Paper entitled Stepping Up: 2004-2010." Of the seven key values stated in the White Paper, one is entitled Equity X Excellence: Fostering Diversity.

"[The goal for the university] is that by 2010, new faculty appointments in each field, across four designated groups (women, visible minorities, aboriginals and thr disabled) will be significantly higher than the Canadian pool of PhD graduates," Hildyard says. "This is an ambitious agenda. However, is this vision becoming a reality" "It is encouraging that the proportion of visible minorities and women is increasing [in hiring patterns for new faculty]," says U of T deputy provost and vice-provost faculty, Vivek Goel. "However, there are many disciplinary areas where the available pool of candidates is quite limited." "We need to do more to address the issues in these areas in particular and across the campus as a whole," Goel adds.

While diversity in recruitment was changing, the current numbers and make up of faculty have yet to be altered significantly.

"I suspect that if one examined the racial profile on campus today, it would be the same as that of students 30 years ago," says George Luste, president of the U of T Faculty Association. "Change does not happen overnight -it can take one year or one generation." In an organization of significant size, changes sometimes meet with internal resistance, as well as difficulties implementing new methods across various administrative levels.

Some tools U of T uses to promote equality and diversity include employee benefits for inclusiveness, evaluation of the quality of faculty recruitment, academic employment opportunities for the partners of new faculty and "ethnocultural" funds for visiting professors, Goel says. "[Demonstration of equity policy implementation] is required in reports by chairs and deans and is considered in regular reviews of the divisions," he adds.

According to Hildyard, the effort to diversify campus is ultimately successful through education. "By reinforcing the concept through equity and diversity, one will achieve excellence," she says.





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