Transparency Is First Step Toward More Diversity in Leadership

Transparency Is First Step Toward More Diversity in Leadership

“Colleges should be required to report demographic data for presidents, provosts, deans, department chairs and trustees, Andrea Silbert writes.”

The American college student population has become increasingly diverse, a reflection of the changing demographics of our nation. But unfortunately, the leaders running our colleges and universities remain far from reflecting this diversity.

Exactly how far is difficult to fully assess. While institutions of higher education are required to provide data on the race and gender of students and faculty to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), they inexplicably are not asked to disclose the demographic makeup of their top academic and administrative leaders or their governing boards.

That must change: Collecting and publishing demographic data about presidents, provosts, deans, department chairs and trustees is foundational to increasing gender, racial and ethnic diversity among higher education leaders.

The need for this information is particularly urgent in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action. Higher education leadership will play an increasingly pivotal role in ensuring not only diversity on campus, but also in creating a welcoming environment for a diverse student body.

Top leaders oversee research agendas, admission policies and budgetary decisions. They influence curriculum and lay out institutions’ objectives and goals for educating future generations. To do so most effectively, it is essential that their ranks reflect the diversity of the student bodies they hope to serve.

More diverse leadership will ensure that the needs of all students, especially those from underrepresented populations, are understood, appreciated and considered. Moreover, leadership diversity enhances the exposure and experiences of a generation coming of age in an increasingly globalized world.

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