MIT Finds Fault With Own Minority Hiring Efforts

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology needs to do a better job of recruiting and retaining black and Hispanic faculty members, according to an internal study released Thursday by the university.

The study, issued by the Initiative on Faculty Race and Diversity, found that the prestigious school is too narrow in its recruitment efforts and that minority faculty members are often dissatisfied with their experiences at MIT. Blacks and Hispanics make up only 6 percent of MIT faculty.

Chemical engineering professor Paula Hammond chaired the report's committee, and said that the school must dispel the notion that recruiting minorities means relaxing standards.

"You can actually seek to have a very diverse group as faculty, including diverse in gender and diverse in race and ethnicity, while at the same time maintaining the extremely high bar of excellence that we set at MIT," Hammond said.

The report suggests that the school broaden its focus beyond departmental promotions and a handful of elite peer universities, such as Harvard University and Stanford University.

The study also found that a higher percentage of minority faculty leave early in their careers, compared to white faculty members, especially within three to five years.

Hammond was particularly surprised by the level of dissatisfaction among minority faculty members.

"I did not necessarily expect that the loss of our faculty was happening at such an early point in their careers," she said. "I think we all look at tenure as the gate. But what we're seeing is a loss fairly well before tenure."

The study, which is the product of more than two years of analysis by a team of nine MIT faculty members, also recommends that MIT improve the consistency of its minority faculty mentoring experiences and hold more open, campus-wide discussions centered on race and diversity.

MIT conducted a similar diversity study in 1999 to determine equity among female scientific faculty members.

This program aired on January 14, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.