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University of Maryland commits $40 million to improving faculty diversity over next 10 years

The University of Maryland, College Park is committing $40 million over the next 10 years to improve the diversity of its faculty, making good on president Darryll Pines’ pledge to combat racism and improve campus culture for people of color.

Funds for the program, referred to as the Faculty Advancement at Maryland for Inclusive Learning and Excellence, will go toward hiring more than 100 faculty members of diverse backgrounds throughout the university as well as boosting leadership development opportunities, retention and recruitment. The program’s goal is to correct inequity at the faculty level in order to better reflect the diversity of the student body, the university president said.

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“We feel we are not right-sized for the diverse student body that we have,” Pines said.

The University of Maryland, College Park reports that more than 40% of students enrolled in 2020 are people of color, according to the university analytics. Pines anticipates students of color will become the majority in the next few years.

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About 56% of the College Park faculty are white, according to university system data. About 11% of faculty is “underrepresented minority,” which includes Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Native Hawaiian. Another 13% are categorized are “other minority,” which includes people identifying as Asian or multiple races, 11% are foreign and for 9% race is unknown.

A former dean of the engineering school, Pines was hired in July 2020 during a period of turmoil for the public institution brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide protests against racism after the murder of George Floyd. At the same time, the university was facing its own reckoning on racism brought on by the deaths of two Black students on the College Park campus.

Football player Jordan McNair died in June 2018 after suffering heatstroke during a team practice. The university later reached a $3.5 million settlement with McNair’s family. And Army 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III, a Bowie State University student, was fatally stabbed in May 2017 by a white University of Maryland student. Prosecutors in the case have argued the killing was racially motivated.

University leaders observed a drop in Black student enrollment in 2017 to 2019 — a trend Pines attributed to the fallout from those incidents. The enrollment figures have since rebounded, Pines said, adding the university can do more to earn Black students’ trust in the institution.

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“This should help the number of diverse students coming to our campus as they see faculty that look like them and reflects where they came from,” Pines said.

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