Loyola University prides itself on its diversity and inclusivity, yet according to its 2016-17 diversity report, only 17 percent of its faculty were of a minority background.
First-year Loyola student Nikita Mahay seemed initially satisfied at the level of diversity among the university’s faculty.
“I’ve been to many state schools and I see a majority of white teachers,” the 18-year old neuroscience major said. “Over here [at Loyola] I see a mix of everything, so I think we’re doing pretty well.”
However, after learning that of the 1,600 Loyola faculty employed last year, only 266 weren’t white, Mahay’s perception shifted.
“I’m actually surprised, I thought it [the number of minority faculty members] would be more, because diversity’s something that Loyola is known for,” Mahay said. “Seeing those numbers, it [seems] like Loyola is not really living up to its word.”
Senior Don Donnowitz, an economics major, similarly said that “Loyola is an institution that’s ahead of its time.” But after hearing the same statistic on faculty racial diversity, Donnowitz said “I guess it [the ratio of white to nonwhite faculty members] is like a trend, or not a trend but normal across the state and across the nation really.”
Senior Will Bridges, a 21-year-old international studies major, followed a similar pattern of thinking.
“I feel like we have a pretty diverse faculty here at Loyola from my experience,” Bridges said.
Then — upon hearing about the low number of minority faculty members — he changed his mind.
“I feel like that’s not a good enough level of diversity. There should be more representation,” Bridges said.
According to Loyola’s 2016-17 Annual Report on Diversity, 83 percent of the teaching staff at Loyola is white; only 17 percent is from a minority background.
In order to improve its inclusion of minority faculty, Loyola recently sent a diversity survey to all students and staff.
Christopher Manning, associate professor and assistant provost of academic diversity, gave his own understanding of Loyola’s faculty diversity numbers.
“Statistically speaking, we are about middle of the road when it comes to AJCU (Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities),” Manning said. “We are not at the bottom of the pack — to the extent that students thought that we are not bad, that’s probably correct. Although we can improve.”
The university doesn’t distinguish between international faculty and racial minorities when determining its diversity numbers, according to Manning.
Loyola’s neighboring universities are doing only slightly better.
In January 2017, the University of Chicago’s Final Report showed a 73 percent white faculty and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s 2015 Diversity Data reported a 60 percent white faculty.
Manning accounted for students’ surprise by saying that students might only be considering their own experience with diversity among their own professors.
“I think that students have a good sense of what they see around them,” Manning said. “What they see may or may not be at the level that they are looking for, but that is not the same as going out and thoroughly checking the data.”
As an African American history professor, Manning said he recognized the sentiments students expressed when they said they’d like to see more diversity.
“I worked 25 hours a week in a grocery store, and went to school in Alabama where the Confederate flag was flown regularly,” Manning said. “I think if I was a student who was also a first generation, a person who had to experience being put into a racial or ethnic box, working all seven days to earn as much money to go back to school instead of going away for spring break, I feel like it would be nice to have someone who understands that.”
Still, the lack of diversity among faculty members is felt by students.
Erin Chorazyczewski, a sophomore psychology major, said she thinks the university can do better.
“It’s something that we do talk about in my friend group, because my friend group is pretty diverse,” Chorazyczewski said. “It would be nice to have someone that reflects who you are.”
Donnowitz echoed this sentiment by saying that low faculty diversity leads to a relationship gap between professors and students.
“Me being Arab by background, I would like to see a lot more Arabic professors,” Donnowitz said.
Mahay said she hasn’t run into any problems herself in terms of feeling like something is missing in her classroom experience, but she acknowledges the fact that other people might.
“I think some people would feel more comfortable if it were more diverse,” she said. Bridges agreed, saying that “new voices and new perspectives can always help you learn better.”
The 2017-18 Annual Report isn’t ready for release, according to Assistant Provost Anne Reuland.