Higher Ed in the News: 5/17

Photo by Max Böttinger on Unsplash.

This week, a look at disparities in student outcomes and one school’s new approach connecting tenure to diversity, equity, and inclusion work. You can read last week’s edition of this series here.

Study on graduate outcomes finds disparities in race and gender.

Among graduates of 93% of public four-year institutions, median student earnings exceeded those of high school graduates, compared to 77% for private nonprofit schools and 69% for for-profit schools. This is according to a study by The Postsecondary Value Commission, a nonprofit advocacy group. 

Natalie Schwartz of Higher Ed Dive wrote about the report, which also looked at data from the University of Texas system and concluded, despite higher-on-average earnings, “racial, socioeconomic and gender inequities are rampant, especially within higher-paying fields.”

The analysis from UT found that white graduates and men earn tens of thousands more in annual salary compared to BIPOC and women, respectively. The study did note that Black and Latinx students who completed post-secondary degrees did fare much better than those who did not. 


IUPUI including DEI in promotion and tenure criteria

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is offering new promotion and tenure options for faculty who contribute to and lead university efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion, Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed writes.

Starting in 2022, those seeking tenure or promotion will have this option, called the “balanced-integrative case” for excellence in DEI, Flaherty writes:

“To be promoted based on this standard, candidates must demonstrate excellence ‘across an array of integrated scholarly activities aligned with diversity, equity and inclusion.’ Professors must articulate a DEI philosophy and show how their teaching, research and service advance DEI. They must also demonstrate independence, innovation and initiative, along with scholarly impact, local impact and development over time.

Would-be associate professors ‘will have led or been an essential part of endeavors with distinct and demonstrable local outcomes,’ according to the new standard. National or international influence is expected. Would-be full professors ‘will be seen as a local leader and will also have achieved a national or international reputation through their work.’”

This new methodology aligns with a trend in the corporate world, where companies are increasingly tying executive compensation and incentive plans to DEI and other social responsibility metrics. It speaks to the need for greater accountability in these numbers, the same way corporations manage profit margins or how academic departments measure success in research and teaching. 

While it may seem obvious to promote DEI in academia, many pervasive opinions exist within the halls of higher education that prevent inclusion from being a priority on college campuses.

For example, a recent survey of U.S. adults found that around a third are critical of international students, believing them to be a security threat. Moreover, students have indicated a willingness to engage with issues of race and equity on campus; nearly 4 in 10 college students strongly agree that higher education has a role to play in racial justice and racial equality in the United States. Sixty-five percent agree that this statement is at least somewhat true as did 72% of Black students surveyed.