In today’s political climate, diversity is one of the most talked about topics of conversation in government, institutions of higher learning, film and television, among others.
According to Seton Hall’s 2015-2016 Fact Book, of the 467 full-time faculty members in the fall of 2015, 366 were white, or 78 percent. In 2001, of the 381 full-time faculty members, 307 were white, or 80 percent.
This means that in roughly 15 years, the percentage of full-time professors of color at Seton Hall has only slightly increased.
Several students and administrators had thoughts on diversity at Seton Hall.
Mohamed Shedeed, a sophomore diplomacy and international relations major, had a mixed review of the diversity within the faculty.
“I think that in the diplomacy school, at least in my experience, the faculty is pretty diverse,” he said. “In fact, out of five professors, only two have been white and each of the others has been from a background distinct from the others.”
Shedeed also said that in the other schools and departments he personally has had professors of various backgrounds, but thinks that diversity is something that can always be improved upon.
“As an Arab, I would always welcome more representation, just like I think many other minorities would. I don’t see an obvious lack in that department at Seton Hall, however, but I do think that the school could focus on having more diverse class options for area studies programs taught by professors from those areas.”
Eduardo Mendoza, a sophomore finance major, thinks that Seton Hall’s faculty is diverse.
“In my three semesters at Seton Hall, I’ve had a very diverse set of professors ranging from women, men, white, foreign-born, liberal, conservative, non-Catholic, and more,” Mendoza said.
He said that while he feels his set of professors has been diverse, each student’s experience is different so some may feel differently.
Rawda Abdelmenam, a senior special education and speech pathology major, thinks that diversity in Seton Hall’s faculty could use some improvement.
“I don’t think that Seton Hall’s faculty is diverse,” she said. “I’m now in my senior year and for both my majors and minor, I’ve only ever had one minority professor. I can think of a couple of administrators and faculty that are minorities, but even that number is very low in my opinion.”
Abdelmenam went on to say that she finds the lack of diversity concerning, especially today when she thinks representation is essential.
“I think it needs to be more diverse, for sure,” she said. “One of the big topics that minority students are concerned with now is the Africana Studies department which does not offer enough classes and have enough professors to keep running.”
She thinks that cutting that program if that is what it comes to will be detrimental to the school as a whole. Giving minority students representation, she said, is essential to having a thriving student body.
“You empower these students and you challenge their thoughts and engage them in the Seton Hall community by giving them adequate representation,” she said.
Abdelmenam also said that when minority students spend four years at an institution where they rarely encounter a professor that looks or speaks like them, they start to wonder if there is room for them in their chosen field of study.
“We need Seton Hall to show us through the people they hire that there are successful minorities in all fields,” she said. “It’s encouraging and empowering to us and it’s an educational opportunity for the majority of students on this campus.”
Karen Boroff, interim provost, offered her thoughts on diversity in the faculty.
“As members of a Catholic university, we, more than others at other universities, know we are created in the Lord’s image,” she said. “That overarching conviction impels us to treat every member of our community, whether we are faculty, administrators, staff, students, or alumni, with dignity and respect, with a welcoming spirit and an even deepen sense that our community members belong here.”
Boroff said that the faculty at Seton Hall tries to find members from various backgrounds.
“I have seen faculty search committees (and these committees are at the core of all faculty hiring) work long hours to surface candidates who embrace our mission, whether they are seeking a tenure-track hire or a term hire,” Boroff said.
Boroff then said that the different schools within Seton Hall work to become more educated on various cultures.
“Every college devotes time, from guest lecturers to offering other workshops, to topical discussions of diversity, whether that centers on diverse international cultures, demographic diversity, or a dialogue about religions of the world, as examples,” she said.
Boroff shared that the Stillman School of Business for example, has created practice partners that are diverse in background as well as experience that come and join in the classroom to help with instruction. The College of Education is also working on a year-long study of the book, Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, to explore how housing impacts the lives of people across the country.
Boroff added that Seton Hall strives to be a place where all students and faculty feel welcome.
“It is my sincere belief that every day, faculty strive to make the learning environment as positive as possible for all students,” she said.
Mary Meehan, Seton Hall’s interim president, shared her thoughts on the topic.
“Diversity and inclusivity are critically important to Seton Hall,” Meehan said. “I know when faculty and administrators are hiring, they search for a diverse pool of candidates. It is especially important at Seton Hall because we have such a diverse student body and our faculty and staff should mirror that diversity as much as possible. We have made some strides in this area, but like most colleges and universities, we need to do better in the future.”
Isabel Soisson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.