Simpson faculty not that diverse

by Zach Leiser

When it comes to diversity, Simpson is about as plain as pudding – and that’s an understatement. Ethnically, diverse faculty members and students are rare.

“Bringing minority faculty to Simpson College has always been an issue,” Academic Dean Bruce Haddox said. “It’s not that we haven’t tried, but we’re fighting against larger schools that can spend a lot more money when hiring people, and that’s tough competition.”

According to the most recent Student and Faculty Ethnic Diversity Report, conducted by Iowa College Student Aid Commission in 2003, Simpson had 62 minority students and 12 minority faculty.

Haddox said the low numbers were due to competition from larger schools.

“We are fighting against larger schools and geography,” Haddox said. “What complicates the whole situation even more is the fact that Iowa has the second-lowest diversity ratio in the country.”

Of the minority students who were enrolled in 2003, 16 were African American, 23 were Hispanic, three were American Indian and 20 were Asian. For faculty, two were African American, six Hispanic, two American Indian and two Asian.

Since these numbers were published, Simpson’s faculty numbers have dropped. Today, there are only five full-time professors of a minority race; two of which are African American, two Hispanic and one Asian.

Haddox said this doesn’t mean Simpson is in a slump – these numbers are average for the college.

“Supply and demand is our biggest problem,” Haddox said. “You have to find people who are willing to apply to this type of school.”

Simpson’s comparison schools have low numbers of racial minorities in their faculty, too. In fact, Simpson has the second-highest number of minority professors in the group.

According to Haddox, Simpson is always looking for diversity when recruiting new faculty, but in the end, all hiring decisions come down to whether they have a passion for teaching and a solid background.

“Students don’t necessarily connect based on race,” Lecturer Margarita Savala said. “Diversity gives more background, but not necessarily quality.”

Still, sophomore Lindsey Johnson thinks a diverse faculty is beneficial.

“I always think it’s interesting to be able to work with somebody from a different ethnic background,” Johnson said. “They have this essence about them that makes every class period interesting.”

Walter Lain, dean of international and multicultural affairs, said the feeling goes both ways.

“I feel very invigorated when working with students,” Lain said. “I’m comfortable working here at Simpson, and despite all of the accomplishments of my people, I believe that there are plenty of opportunities to build upon.”

With the number of minority professors decreasing at Simpson, the college has joined in cooperative effort with DMACC and ISU to increase the number of minority professors.

Simpson is looking for people who are going to compliment particular fields of study.

“If we can’t get diversity in points of background, then we will try and get diversity by point of view,” Haddox said. “Our job is to view the world from a minority perspective, and to get students to learn in a more diverse way.”