Features: Faculty Letter to Trustees
Editor’s Note: The email below was written by President Schutt on January 21st, 2020. This letter was signed by Faculty in support of diversifying the faculty body.
Volume 1, Issue 1
To the Lake Forest College Community,
I am pleased to forward the message below at the request of faculty who signed a recent letter to the Board of Trustees, calling on the College to increase the ethnic/racial diversity of our faculty.
Stephen D. Schutt
Lake Forest College
Dear students, faculty, and staff,
Last November, a significant number of faculty signed a letter to the Board of Trustees outlining a plan to increase the ethnic/racial diversity of our faculty. The Board of Trustees responded positively to the letter, and stated that they planned to make it a topic of discussion at their next meeting in February. We are heartened that this effort toward faculty diversity dovetails with many efforts underway already to create a more inclusive campus.
As the spring semester begins, we wanted to make sure that everyone in the college community had access to the abstract of the letter (pasted below). We are eager to create opportunities on our campus to discuss the challenges we face in diversifying the faculty and how we can work together to overcome them. We are in the process of scheduling a faculty panel and discussion forum on this topic for February, but in the interim, we hope you will join faculty table talks on Tuesday, 1/21, in the Caf, and participate in the Diversity and Inclusion Summit on Saturday, 1/25.
We look forward to ongoing conversations around improving the inclusivity of our campus, and we hope you will join us in talking through strategies to achieve that goal.
On behalf of 64 additional members of the faculty
Letter to the Board of Trustees of Lake Forest College
Given the real demographic challenges facing Lake Forest College in the coming years and decades, the faculty seeks to improve the viability of our institution and its responsiveness to the changing population of 18-22-year-olds, while remaining true to our mission as a liberal arts college. To this end, we argue that the most effective strategy for the College is to make a concerted effort to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of our faculty. By doing so, we will ensure that our faculty mirrors the diversity of the student body, which will improve our retention rates for students of color. Moreover, over the long run, we will potentially be able to position ourselves as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) ahead of the growing wave of college-bound Latinx students. The proposed initiative will enable us to begin to leverage the power of a diversified workforce, including its ability to improve innovation and decision-making, to attract talented employees, and to increase long-term financial returns and stability for the College. Realizing these benefits will require strengthening our programs in Latin American and Latinx Studies and African American Studies. It will require an initial investment in hiring and support for faculty of color, particularly Latinx and African American faculty. It will also require more sustained investment to ensure our retention of faculty of color. We recognize that the college needs to improve representation of many different marginalized groups on our campus. The focus of this letter is specifically to address the underrepresentation of Latinx and African American faculty, which we see as just the start of a longer process to become a more diverse and inclusive institution. We are all feeling the squeeze of our current budget limitations, which is why we believe that meeting this goal requires a separate and dedicated fundraising drive. We also believe that this specific investment now will increase our revenue in the future. This letter details a proposal for how and why to make this investment and requests that the Board of Trustees commit to making this part of the College’s strategic plan and begin new fundraising initiatives toward these goals.