Marquette University is looking to boost its commitment to diversity by hiring up to nine new professors for its Race and Ethnic Studies program. The new hires would join the interdisciplinary program founded with five faculty members in 2017.
The predominately white, Jesuit university hopes to build a critical mass of researchers who study race, ethnicity and their influences. Questions about immigration, segregation and political representation make these studies especially relevant now, says Sergio González, a history professor who joined Marquette when the RAES program launched two years ago.
“I believe our students are particularly hungry for more and better tools to understand the world they live in today,” he says. “Marquette students are looking to their professors to better understand the broader historical, cultural, economic and social context for which we find ourselves in 2019.”
William Welburn, a university vice president who is involved in hiring the new faculty, says the program thus far has recruited scholars with diverse research backgrounds. Because of this, he says, the “critical need here is to find ways to grow the RAES.”
Students of color made up 27.5 percent of Marquette undergraduates in the fall 2018 semester. “We want our students to have the experience of learning about cultures and communities much like the ones they may have grown up in,” Welburn says.
The university is seeking up to nine new professors using a “cluster” approach to hiring that’s intended to bring in several scholars of shared research interests at one time.
The hires also are expected to make progress toward another goal at Marquette: staff diversity. Heather Hathaway, associate dean of academic affairs for the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, noted in the university’s 2018 financial report that the arrival of RAES’ three new African-American and two new Hispanic professors “dramatically and positively affects the experience of students of color on campus.”
The exact number of professors hired will depend on the success of the search committees in the departments where the professors are housed, including the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, the Diederich College of Communication and the College of Business Administration.
González sees the initiative as an important step towards broader cultural studies and representation within the university: “It’s been heartening to see the amount of resources and attention Marquette administration and faculty have committed to this project.”