Office of the President

Action Plan: A Memo from President William E. Kirwan

TO: Deans, Directors, and Department Chairs

FROM: William E. Kirwan

SUBJECT: An Action Plan in Response to Studies of Progress Toward Diversity Goals for African American Faculty, Staff, and Students


For some years the university has embraced the creation of a vibrant, multi-cultural community as one of its major institutional goals. Considerable progress has been made toward the achievement of this goal. Indeed, the rich human diversity found at this institution is one of its distinguished features.

Because of its earlier history as a racially segregated institution, the campus has identified a number of goals and initiatives that relate specifically to African American faculty, students, and staff as part of its commitment to ensure access and full opportunity to all those enrolled or employed at the institution. In comparison to other members of the Association of American Universities (AAU), College Park has much to be proud of for its relative success in recruiting and retaining African Americans. Nevertheless, among our racial and cultural minorities, African Americans alone continue to be significantly underrepresented numerically.

Over the past several years there have been three detailed studies of the extent to which our institutional goals as they relate to African Americans have been realized: (1) Access is Not Enough: A Report to the President Concerning Opportunities for Blacks at the University of Maryland at College Park, prepared at my request by Ray Gillian, Assistant to the President (submitted in October 1989); (2) "Progress in Equity and Diversity," chapter in the campus' 1992 Periodic Review Report to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (submitted in June 1992); and (3) The Report of the Committee on Excellence through Diversity: Providing Opportunities for Black Americans at College Park, prepared by a committee appointed by me in response to a resolution passed by the Campus Senate (submitted in July 1992). During the past year these reports have been reviewed and discussed throughout the campus. The Vice Presidents, the President's Commission on Ethnic Minority Issues, the Black Faculty and Staff Executive Committee, the Equity Council, and many individual members of our community have provided me with valuable advice on a response to these reports.

In a request to the deans on March 22nd of this year, I sought their advice on issues in these reports as they relate to the academic units. I identified what I regarded as the most serious issues raised in them, and asked the deans to review and comment on my analysis. During a meeting with the deans on April 19th, and at a subsequent session of the Council of Deans on April 26th, a number of issues that I had identified were discussed, and several implementation and accountability measures were proposed.

Discussions with all of these groups and the responses from many individuals have been invaluable to me in formulating the present plan. Indeed, I can say with some confidence that the proposals described below represent a consensus from the advice I have received on how the campus can best achieve its diversity and community development goals as they relate to African American faculty, students, and staff.

The focus on African Americans in this report in no way diminishes the institution's broader multi-cultural diversity goals. Rather, it is a recognition that the realization of these broader goals can not be achieved without special initiatives to increase the presence of African Americans in our community.

The description and brief explanation of the actions I am proposing indicate the important role you and your colleagues will play in the implementation of the plan. As in many other aspects of campus life, we can expect that real change will take place only when faculty, students, and staff in individuals units embrace larger campus goals as their personal concerns, and work to realize them.

The Four Areas Identified as Deserving Special Attention

Given the length and complexity of the three studies cited above, it would be unrealistic to expect that all of their recommendations could be dealt with in detail. The 1989 study listed a total of 34 actions; the June 1992 report another 20; the July 1992 report still another 81. In studying the reports and the responses to them, it became clear to me that our actions should be focused in four areas:

  • The recruitment, retention and graduation of African Americans students;
  • The appointment, retention, and promotion of African American faculty
  • The degree of job-satisfaction of African American staff members; and
  • The general climate on the campus for African American employees and students.

In what follows, I describe specific proposed initiatives in each of these areas. A table at the end of this report summarizes the various initiatives, indicates the individuals responsible for implementation, and stipulates a timetable for implementation.

Area I

Improving the Retention and Graduation Rates of African American Students on the Campus, and Expanding Recruitment Efforts

A recent national study places College Park among the nation's leaders in the production of African Americans with Bachelor's and Ph.D. degrees. Despite this relative success, the campus is not satisfied with its current graduation rate for African Americans. For example, an April 1991 report of the Retention Review Committee showed that African American students have been graduating at a significantly lower rate than the student population as a whole (Excellence noted that while 51% of the class which entered in 1986 graduated within a five-year period, the figure for African American students was only 35%). And as the Periodic Review pointed out, the campus continues to have one of the lowest five-year graduation rate for African American students among all its peer institutions, even though the total number of African American graduates is one of the nation's highest. In addition, although progress has been made, the enrollment of African American graduate students remains below the goal (of 12%) established for the institution several years ago. All three reports call for an increased effort in the recruitment and retention of African American students, with the setting of specific targets and timetables in individual colleges.

The deans have recently reaffirmed the goal originally set in 1991 of graduating within five years at least 50% of the African American students in the class that will enroll at College Park this fall, with the additional expectation that the graduation rate for African American students will approach that of the campus as a whole within a few years' time.

To achieve this goal, it will be necessary to undertake a variety of measures, some for specific student populations, others for the student population as a whole (e.g. additional department-based organizations to increase contact between faculty and students; campus-wide use of the mid-semester grade review proposed by the Retention Implementation Committee; a feasibility study of an on-campus residency requirement for all incoming freshmen). Included among these general measures, however, I also propose a number of measures focused specifically on improving the retention and graduation rates of African American students:

(1) As recommended in both Access and Excellence, an upgrading of the physical facilities for the Nyumburu Center. $2.5 million has been allocated for the renovation and expansion of the Mill building for this purpose. Administrative oversight responsibility will remain in Academic Affairs in order to enhance the academic goals of the Center as well as to encourage effective coordination with academic programs;

(2) As recommended in Access, each dean in consultation with the Provost will establish college-specific retention and graduation goals and accountability measures (a working group composed of the assistant deans in the colleges will be assembled to determine how best to track students who transfer from one college to another);

(3) Each college will be asked to ensure that a full range of academic support services are available for the African American students enrolled in its programs; in the larger colleges this could take the form of an academic-support center, but individual colleges would be free to develop the programs best suited to meet the needs of their students; and

(4) In consultation with the Provost and Dean for Graduate Studies and Research, the deans will establish specific goals and accountability measures to increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation rate of African American graduate students.

In each of these areas, the deans will be held accountable by the Provost for the efforts undertaken and the results achieved in their respective colleges. Department chairs can expect to be hearing more about these initiatives from their dean in the near future.

I am also proposing a set of recruitment initiatives. The Office of Academic Affairs will be asked to:

(5) Develop and implement a set of measures, such as additional outreach activities in the schools and summer enrichment programs, that will increase the effectivement of the Banneker Scholarships Program in the recruitment of African American students; and

(6) Develop and implement additional measures that will increase the numbers of talented African American students enrolling as undergraduates; and

(7) Reorganize the existing merit scholarship support structure to provide staff support for the Banneker Scholarship program comparable to that now made available to the Francis Scott Key Scholarship program.

The Vice President for Institutional Advancement will be asked to:

(8) Place a top priority on fund raising for the Key and Banneker Scholarships in order that the programs become fully funded from private funds and are increased to provide 100 new awards per year.

The campus also enjoys an unusual opportunity to participate in EQUITY 2000, a recent initiative of the College Board designed to increase the number of academically prepared minority and disadvantaged students who will enter and graduate from college. Prince George's County is one of only six school systems in the nation selected to participate in this effort; and the framework for extensive participation by our faculty already exists. The Office of Academic Affairs will be asked to:

(9) Coordinate a broad-based campus involvement in the EQUITY 2000 program;

The Dean for Graduate Studies and Research will be asked to:

(10) Develop and implement additional measures to increase the numbers of African American students enrolling in College Park's graduate programs, with an overall goal of 12% enrollment, consistent with the goals originally established for African American graduate students in Enhancement Plan.

Area II

Increasing the Numbers of African American Faculty Recruited, Retained, and Promoted at College Park

The campus can take pride in the fact that it has one of the highest percentages of African American faculty among AAU institutions. Nevertheless, despite the efforts undertaken by many campus units to significantly increase the number of African American faculty, the overall racial composition of the College Park faculty has remained largely unchanged in recent years. Therefore:

(11) The Provost, in consultation with the deans, will establish hiring goals in the colleges in order to roughly double campus-wide the number of African American tenure/tenure-track faculty from the present figure (58) by the end of this decade; and

(12) As recommended in Access and Excellence, and recently endorsed by the deans the Minority Pool Line program will be increased (from its present six lines to twelve); and

(13) Units prepared to initiate either curriculum-based or research-oriented special projects that will bring African American scholars, scientists, or artists to the campus for special events or short-term appointments can expect to receive additional resources. The Graduate School will be asked to invite applications for use of campus DRI funds for these purposes.

The mechanisms for monitoring the extent of progress made in faculty hiring and retention are already in place; however:

(14) An assessment of the unit's performance as indicated through the existing Diversity Accountability and Implementation Plan (DAIP) reporting process will become a required part of the annual assessment of the performance of chairs, directors, deans, and vice presidents; the vice presidents will review the DAIP reports from each unit within their divisions and advise the President annually on the extent of the progress made.

Among the measures with the greatest potential to increase the size and longevity of our African American faculty community are those that will help us to avoid losing the faculty we have succeeded in bringing to the campus. As has been noted in Excellence and in recent discussions, it will be essential that Chairs make good use of the annual consultation and review provisions contained in the new APT system in order to ensure that African American faculty members are receiving the kind of annual assessment and guidance they need as they approach the tenure decision, and that they are connecting in productive ways with their colleagues in the department and elsewhere on campus. In additions, I have requested that the Provost:

(15) Require that all units receiving minority pool lines submit (prior to receiving authorization for making the appointment) a detailed description of the support package the unit will assemble in order to improve the appointee's chances for the ultimate award of tenure. These plans should make clear how all un-tenured faculty in the unit will be given the advice and support that will optimize their opportunities for a successful tenure decision, as well as how the special teaching, mentoring, advising, and administrative demands typically placed on African American faculty will be taken into account in the assignment of teaching and other departmental duties;

(16) Undertake to disseminate information about the interests and professional activities of African American faculty on the campus, especially recent arrivals, as well as bring to the attention of African American faculty special projects or organizations of potential relevance to their research and teaching interests; and

(17) Expand existing or create new post-doctoral programs for African Americans, especially for those with UMCP Ph.D's. No later than FY 95 up to $300,000 will be made available in support of existing or new post-doctoral programs.

It will be essential that positive actions along these lines be taken at the unit level, that chairs have a clear understanding from their deans about the procedures to be followed, that deans communicate their expectations to chairs and allocate resources based on the results, and that the deans work closely with the Provost throughout the process.

Area III

Improving Levels of Job Satisfaction for African American Staff Members

The past several years have been difficult ones for all of our classified and associate staff members, but the reports identify a number of special concerns of African American employees. All three studies founds that many African American staff members believe that assessments of their job performance and prospects for advancement have been affected by perceived prejudicial attitudes. Both Access and the Periodic Review noted, there is no mechanism for carrying our comparability studies of African American and non-African American persons performing at similar levels in comparable Associate or Administrative Staff positions (as is, for example, available for determining equity in faculty salary levels). Access also recommended a series of measures which would help to enhance career development for Associate Staff employees (e.g., internships to gain wider administrative experience, and leaves of absence for educational purposes). Based on these findings and recommendations, I will request that:

(18) The Provost in consultation with the Vice Presidents develop an appropriate methodology for carrying out an effective comparability study for the salaries of African Americans and non-African American staff members serving in similar Associate and Administrative staff positions, and to conduct such a study as soon as feasible;

(19) The Vice Presidents for Administrative Affairs and Student Affairs determine whether conditions exist that adversely affect the prospects for advancement and general work environment for African American employees in the service and maintenance areas, and to prepare a set of recommendations for correcting any problems identified; and

(20) The Personnel Office and the Human Relations Office jointly develop a series of Diversity/Prejudice Reduction/Racial Sensitivity workshops for all supervisors and key campus personnel.

In an effort to increase the size of the pool of African American applicants for vacancies on the campus in the Associate Staff executive and professional category, it has been suggested that it might be helpful to engage the services of a recruiter or recruiting agency. Such a person or office could work in a consulting capacity with search committees and develop a data-base on prospective African American applicants. Therefore:

(21) During FY 94 funds will be made available to support an effort to increase the size of the pool of African American applicants for vacant positions on the campus, either by engaging the services of a recruiting agency or through other measures identified as useful in meeting this objective.

Area IV

Improving the Campus Climate for African American Employees and Students

All three studies reported a significant level of concern about the current campus climate for African American employees and students. As is obvious from news accounts of recent events at other colleges and universities, such a problem is not unique to College Park. But College Park is the place we have responsibility to improve. As President I want to reaffirm that actions that contribute to a hostile work environment for others are unacceptable; supervisors bear the primary responsibility for ensuring that the workplace environment remains a welcoming one for all our employees.

Many of the measures proposed in the first three areas qualify as climate-improvement measures. In addition, many other valuable current efforts, such as the transformation of the curriculum project, should be continued. Both Access and Excellence, however, raise questions about the effectiveness of our current system of equity officers in the colleges and units for dealing with the problems encountered by African American staff and students in campus offices and classrooms. Accordingly:

(22) I will initiate and oversee a review of the campus' equity system to be carried out during 1993-94, incorporating a wide-ranging fact-finding effort drawing upon the experiences or other institutions and the advice of recognized experts in higher education; and

(23) I will request that the Dean of Undergraduate Studies and the Director of Orientation utilize sections of EDCP 108 and Honors 100 to devise ways in which our students can enjoy increased opportunities for study of the history of race relations in the United States, especially in the state of Maryland.

Accountability and Timetable for Action

The enclosed chart indicates which individuals or offices either have been or will be asked to assume responsibility for implementing the measures just identified, as well as the time frame for each of their actions. I will ask incoming Provost Daniel Fallon to assume responsibility for oversight of the implementation of this report.

Given the length of time that has elapsed since the Senate passed its resolution in 1990, it is essential that we begin the implementation of a response to the Excellence Through Diversity Report as soon as possible. Many of the actions I have proposed are administrative in nature and initial work can begin on these almost immediately. Others involve the expenditure of considerable resources. I have asked Provost-designate Fallon to consult with APAC as soon as possible this Fall on allocation of the necessary resources.

Finally, this report is the culmination of a process begun through a resolution of the Campus Senate in January 1990. The resolution called for "significant recommendations" to address issues raised in Access Is Not Enough. I am, therefore, submitting this report to the Campus Senate for its advice as to whether — in total — it is responsive to the general concerns that let to the 1990 resolution.

In the meantime, let me add that I look forward to working with each of you to meet the objectives of this report.


Action To Be Taken Person/Office Responsible Timetable

Area I

1. Expanding Nyumburu Center President Funding Approved

2. Set college-specific retention and graduation goals Provost*, Deans Mid-Fall semester of 1993

3. Create college-level support programs Deans Colleges to plan during Fall of 1993 for implementation in Spring or Fall of 1994

4. Set recruitment and program completion goals for graduate students Provost*, Graduate Dean, Deans, Chairs Conduct study during Fall of 1993, report due in Spring of 1994

5. Enhance effectiveness of Banneker Program Provost Develop strategies during the 1993-94 year

6. Develop additional undergraduate recruitment strategies Director of Admissions Continue present program development with college deans; develop recommendations for additional measures in the colleges by Spring 1994

7. Reorganize support structure for Banneker and Key programs Provost Mid-Fall semester 1993

8. Increase private support for Key and Banneker programs VP for Institutional Advancement Continuing effort; currently identified as a high priority area

9. Coordinate campus participation in Equity 2000 Provost Develop strategy and appoint coordinator, Fall 1993

10. Develop additional graduate recruitment measures Graduate Dean*, Deans, Chairs Develop plan of action during Fall of 1993 for implementation in 1994-95 recruitment cycle

Area II

11. Establish hiring goals by college to double number of African American faculty President*, Deans Study and update data during 1993-94; set goals in January 1994; implement for 1994-95 hiring year

12. Increase Minority Pool Line Program to 12 per year ProvostFY 95 through FY 97; increase by two lines per year

13. Support special projects and short-term appointments Graduate Dean*, Provost, Deans, Chairs Develop and disseminate plans during Fall of 1993

14. Annually review performance of chairs and deans through DAIP process Provost*, Deans Begin with next annual cycle

15. Submit plans for support of prospective untenured faculty to be hired on pool lines Provost*, Deans, Chairs Charge committee of the deans to develop plans during Fall of 1993

16. Disseminate information about newly arrived African American faculty Office of Academic Affairs Develop plans during Fall of 1993 for implementation in Spring 1994

17. Commit additional funds for post-doctoral programs Provost*, DeansFall 1993: develop strategies for implementation; FY 95 increase level of funding

Area III

18. Develop methodology and institute study of staff salary equity Provost Create working group to develop review process; report due by March 1994

19. Develop recommendations for addressing workplace climate problems VP for Administrative Affairs, VP for Student Affairs October 31, 1993

20. Develop supervisor workshopsPersonnel Office, Human Relations Office October 31, 1993

21. Develop measures to increase the number of African American job applicants Director of Personnel October 31, 1993

Area IV

22. Review equity system President Develop plan and methodology during Fall of 1993

23. Develop additional courses on race relations in U.S./Maryland Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Director of Orientation Plan new courses or curriculum transformation projects during 1993-94; implementation to begin in Fall of 1994

*Indicates person or office with primary responsibility for this action.