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Johns Hopkins to launch $25 million faculty diversity program

The Johns Hopkins University will spend $25 million over the next five years to better recruit and maintain minority faculty, among other moves aimed at increasing campus diversity.

The Faculty Diversity Initiative will include a two-year postdoctoral fellowship focused on fields with fewer women and underrepresented minorities, a targeted recruiting program, and five $50,000 awards for diversity and inclusion research, the university said.

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The initiative has been in the works for more than a year, but its announcement this week comes as students at Hopkins and other universities across the nation have demanded that administrators work to improve race relations and increase diversity on their campuses.

Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels attended a two-hour forum Monday hosted by the Black Student Union to discuss racial issues, including faculty diversity, hiring practices, cultural competency and harassment on campus.

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Kennedy McDaniel, the Black Student Union's events chairwoman, said the forum was "really strong" and brought hundreds of students, faculty and alumni to lay bare racial issues on the Homewood campus in North Baltimore.

McDaniel said black professors have had racial epithets thrown at them by drunken students; black students have been asked whom they know at fraternity parties, as if they do not belong; and that the lack of black faculty is "embarrassing."

"I don't think the administration really understands what it's like to be a black student on this campus," she said.

McDaniel, an 18-year-old Africana studies and sociology student, called the university's new diversity initiative "a good first step" but said it will take time to see how it plays out. She said the Black Student Union presented demands that the university was open to considering.

"We're actively working to make sure these conversations about race and making the black student life experience equal to that of the rest of the student body aren't over," McDaniel said.

In a letter to campus after the group held a protest last month, Daniels acknowledged the university's "complex racial legacy" and said Hopkins is committed to realizing "the ideal of true equality."

The faculty initiative will create protocols to ensure that candidates are diverse, train search committee members on unconscious biases, and place trained diversity advocates on the committees. The university will report on its search practices and the racial composition of its faculty every two years.

The university also plans to create a targeted recruitment program to offer $100,000 for "exceptional and diverse scholars."

The students' demands include turning the university's Center for Africana Studies into a school that could hire its own faculty. Hopkins has announced plans to hire five new faculty members for the center — two in the center itself, two in the history department and one interdisciplinary scholar.

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