Members of K-State’s Black Student Union raised a valid point in their recent guest editorial calling for more diverse faculty and staff members. Please know the university is committed to increasing the number of faculty members from under-represented groups.
There has been considerable discussion on campus considering the status of the American Ethnic Studies program and we want to provide accurate information. The university is taking steps to increase staffing in the program, including hiring a full-time director. National searches have been conducted for this position and an additional tenure-track faculty position; these searches attracted excellent pools of candidates.
As with all personnel decisions, it is inappropriate to discuss specifics until the hiring process is complete. Please be assured the university is committed to bringing full-time, highly qualified faculty members to this important area of study. Next fall we will have a full-time director, two additional tenure-track faculty members, and two instructors. An additional search for a tenure-track faculty member is scheduled for next year.
There is misinformation being disseminated about the status of current faculty members who serve on annual appointments. These appointments run from August to May each academic year, with contract letters being issued in June for the subsequent year, normally after our budgets are codified. While some appointees may have been notified verbally of upcoming appointments, the timing remains standard for the entire university. We ask that the campus community respect the process and avoid engaging in speculation or rumor about personnel decisions.
The issue of recruiting and retaining more diverse faculty and staff members is larger than any one program, department or college. We have established diversity as a common element within K-State 2025 and it serves as an integral part of our thematic goal for faculty and staff development. The 2025 process is based on metrics and making an honest assessment about where we stand. Our historical record with regard to the hiring and retention of diverse faculty members tells a clear story. We can, and must, do better.
As a university community, we cannot expect to follow the same practices as the past and expect different results. We welcome dialogue with the Black Student Union and other groups that want to be part of the solution. To this end, we set a meeting for April 23 at 5:15 p.m. in Union 227 and look forward to discussing these issues with our students.
Kirk Schulz, President
April Mason, Provost and Senior Vice President
Peter Dorhout, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences