The old homogenous rerun of “Leave it to Beaver” that has been playing on campus has finally been edited by the Fairfield administration through the hiring of four black professors.

In the wake of President Jeffery Von Arx’s Martin Luther King Day address, the College of Arts and Sciences hired four black professors, more than doubling its current faculty number.

“Having professors with different cultural backgrounds brings Fairfield students out of this homogenous bubble that we live in,” said Aamina Awan ’07. “Having diversity among the professors gives students a different perspective. We get a chance to broaden our horizons by cultivating professors who can bring an array of different ideas and cultures to the table, both inside and outside of the classroom.”

According to Arts and Sciences Dean Timothy Snyder’s address to college faculty in September, the university’s current percentage of black faculty is two percent. Although the hirings do not tremendously increase the percentage, next year the university will raise the bar to four percent.

Professor Walter Petry’s retirement at the end of the year will bring the count to six black faculty members for next year.

“Increasing diversity has been a priority of my tenure at Fairfield,” said von Arx, “and a challenge that most institutions of higher education are facing.”

The non-affirmative action hires are part of a campus-wide effort by the administration to diversify the faculty, a move that aims to support a more cogent representation of the world’s population.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, affirmative action is a step that involves preferential selection that is based on race, gender or ethnicity, to increase the representation of women and minorities.

“I think it’s important to note that these hirings were not just the result of affirmative action,” said Ryan Farias ’05, a member of a student search committee. “As a student involved in the interviewing and hiring of one of the African-American faculty members, I know that the choice was made because the candidate best related to the students and held the most potential for growth and development while at Fairfield.”

According to Academic Vice President Orin Grossman, Renee White joins as a professor in the department of sociology, and will also teach in the black studies program. Yohuru Williams joins the faculty as an associate professor of history, and will be the director of the black studies program. Kevin Dawson joins as an assistant professor in the history department.

Terry-Ann Jones joins the department of international studies, according to Petry.

“I look forward to a time,” said Grossman, “when Fairfield University’s faculty, staff and student body reflect more closely the racial and ethnic diversity of the United States and indeed the world.”

The college of arts and sciences also hired eight other new faculty members and there are four on-going searches as well.

Three of the hired faculty members are white, while others have backgrounds in Bolivia and China, according to Snyder.

“Scholarly literature tells us that, without question, a racially diverse learning environment, on many scales and using many outcomes assessments, increases the depth and quality of learning and complex thought – for all types of students,” Snyder said.

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