June 17, 2019 | 70° F

Rutgers faculty union calls for additional $15 M toward new diversity initiative

Photo by The Daily Targum |

 The Paul Robeson Cultural Center, which is located on Busch campus, promotes diversity in the Rutgers community. The faculty union calls for these same values, asking for 100 Paul Robeson fellowships for graduate students. 

The Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) is asking for an additional $15 million for a Paul Robeson Diversity Hiring Initiative for 2019-2020 and 100 Paul Robeson fellowships for graduate students, according to a union document obtained by The Daily Targum. These funds would be added to University President Robert L. Barchi’s previously promised $21.7 million for diversity hiring through 2021. 

Deepa Kumar, president of the AAUP-AFT and associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, said in an email to the Targum that the Barchi administration refuses to invest in such a program. The tensions between the two sides appear to be running high, as AAUP-AFT tweeted on Saturday that there will be an emergency strike tele-town hall on Thursday. The Targum reported last week that the union’s tweets and retweets said strike planning was underway. 

Dory Devlin, senior director of University News and Media Relations, said in an email to the Targum: “President Barchi committed $21.7 million in presidential strategic funds through FY (fiscal year) 2021 to promote diversity among faculty members. These funds have been used to recruit, retain and mentor faculty from diverse backgrounds. Since 2016, these funds were used to recruit 79 new diverse faculty members across Rutgers.”

It is also the faculty that makes the ultimate hiring decisions within their schools and departments, Devlin said. The University is working with departments, deans and chairs to ensure that candidate pools include diverse candidates. 

The union document stated the number of Black faculty has gone from 89 (4.2 percent) in 2015 to 97 (4.5 percent) as of November 2018  and the number of Latinx professors has gone from 78 (3.7 percent) to 96 (4.5 percent). This, it claimed, is only a modest step forward with allegedly $4 million spent on recruiting 26 Black and Latinx faculty. 

Barchi said to the Targum last month that $7 million has been spent this year alone on diversity hiring. “The problem is they’re being recruited away when they get to be assistant or associate professors,” he said.

Brendan Brightman

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