Hank Koebler of KSSZ contributed to this story.
The University of Missouri is devoting an additional $1 million to try and increase diversity among its faculty. That’s on top of the already $1.3 million budgeted to recruit and retain minority faculty this academic year. Diversity chief Kevin McDonald says the school wants to double its number of minority faculty by 2020.
“I think there’s just a tremendous amount of vigor and energy around moving this institution forward and I think that they really do believe that this is a new day that’s reflective but also turning toward the future,” says McDonald.
At a press conference Tuesday, interim Chancellor Hank Foley, interim system president Mike Middleton, Board of Curators Chair Pam Henrickson and McDonald discussed recruiting efforts.
About 7% of the university’s nearly 2,000 current faculty members are minorities. McDonald thinks having a more diverse faculty will help students feel more involved.
“They’re able to see some aspect of their identity and the faculty member that’s teaching them and passing on this strong academic information,” says McDonald. “It can spur an increased desire to want to learn.”
McDonald was named Mizzou’s first-ever permanent chief Diversity officer in June, following last fall’s racial protests on the Columbia campus.
“I think in any community that has had to deal with the events of last fall, I think there’s going to be some levels of skepticism and a recognition of wanting to engage in more dialogue,” says McDonald.
Recruiting will also include a program meant to help the spouses of candidates find jobs at the university or in the community.