East Carolina University prides itself on diversity and inclusion of all peoples in faculty, staff and student body. However, some students feel that they do not see themselves represented in staff and faculty.
The ratio of male to female faculty is 38.4% male and 61.6% female, which is similar to most universities. While the racial and ethnic diversity of faculty is above average compared to other universities, some students feel ECU could do more to diversify staff.
In recent figures collected by ECU’s Office for Equity and Diversity, ECU’s percentage of minority professors has risen to 18% in faculty and 29% in staff, as of 2018.
Associate Provost for the Office of Equity and Diversity, Lakesha Alston Forbes, said she never realized how important it was to see herself reflected in mentors and faculty until she received a mentor of color years later.
“When I was in the College of Business, I did a fair amount of advocating for more faculty diversity and other issues within the College of Business. I encourage students to voice their concerns and also work within their student organizations to voice their opinions about faculty diversity. During my entire time at ECU, I didn’t have a faculty member of color. Not one. Being a person of color, that was really important to me,” Forbes said.
The Office of Equity and Diversity has multiple programs focused around increasing diversity across ECU’s campus, according to Forbes. She said these programs include the Diversity and Inclusion Research and Scholarship (DIRS) Program, which is a faculty development and seed grant program that provides funding to departments with faculty who engage in research projects related to diversity, equity, inclusion and/or cultural competence.
ECU provides many resource groups for faculty to connect to the university, including the Organization of African American Faculty, Chinese Association of ECU Faculty, Staff and Friend, Organization of African American Staff, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally Faculty and Staff Group and the American Indian Faculty and Staff Group.
“Our office works primarily with faculty and staff. We consider diversity of faculty to be one of the top priorities in our office,” Forbes said. “Although we are relatively small, we have partnered with academic units across campus to be able to help with outreach and even recruitment and retention of faculty who are underrepresented in their areas.”
Junior public health major, Myles Alexander, who is a member of ECU’s Black Student Union (BSU), said he sees minorities and other races as a part of ECU’s faculty, but does not believe they are well represented.
Alexander has had multiple minority professors, a minority advisor and minorities in higher positions, but said he still believes there is a large gap in representation within ECU faculty.
“In order to improve diversity among ECU's faculty and staff, you must first see the disconnection between the staff and its students. It is very hard to communicate and connect with someone who doesn't even realize that there is a disconnect,” Alexander said.
Sophomore marketing major Tyrell Govan, another member of ECU’s BSU, commented on a lack of diversity on campus. He said after four semesters at ECU, he’s only had one professor of color.
Govan said his professor of color was one of the only professors he connected with most. His supervisor at the student center is also a woman of color and Govan said he connects with her very well, and doesn’t think it’s coincidental that the two faculty members he connects with most are people of color.
“I do wish to see more representation and diversity on ECU’s campus among the faculty and staff. I would like for ECU to consider diversity when recruiting more faculty members on campus,” Govan said.
ECU’s Office of Equity and Diversity can provide multiple documents with campus statistics available upon request for those interested in the diversity rate.