Rutgers University will increase its budget to enhance its faculty diversity over the coming years by nearly $22 million, the school announced on Wednesday.
Under the Faculty Diversity Hiring Initiative, which began in 2016, the university has give freedom to its schools and departments to spend funds on hiring more faculty from diverse backgrounds.
As part of the initiative, Rutgers provides half of the salary support for each hired faculty member for the first three years of their service to the school. Additional funding is also allocated to support mentoring and retention activities.
“This extension will enable schools and departments to hire additional cohorts using this supplemental funding, beginning in the 2019-20 academic year,” university president Robert Barchi wrote.
“The initiative will thus total more than $40 million and underscores the ongoing commitment of University leadership to assist our schools and departments in attracting and retaining a world-class faculty that embodies our dedication to diversity and inclusion.”
The university has hired more than 79 faculty members under the diversity program over the last four years. However, many of the school’s distinguished professors signed a petition last month against the spending priorities of university leadership members, claiming that the campus has actually become less diverse in the last few decades.
“The number of tenure-track African American faculty at Rutgers in 1976 was 175, whereas the number of tenure-track African American faculty in 2017 was 89,” the petition reads.
Signatories of the petition further alleged the administration of spending less than 20 percent of the funds allocated under the diversity program in 2017 on African American and Latino faculty.
The university is also currently facing a crisis as more than 88 percent of members of The American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers at Rutgers’ group, representing 4,800 full-time faculty and graduate employees, authorized a strike if the school doesn’t meet their union’s various demands.
Demands include an increase in pay to student teachers; equal pay for female faculty members; salary increases for teaching assistants, and improvements in student-faculty ratios.