Academic Affirmative Action Committee Report
Commitment to Diversity
The University of Notre Dame has a longstanding commitment to increasing the presence of minorities, women, Catholics, and members of the Congregation of Holy Cross on the teaching-and-research faculty. In 1970, then President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh created the Affirmative Action Committee and directed its members to prepare the University’s Affirmative Action Program. The affirmative action plan was completed five years later in 1975. In a letter addressed to the University Officers, Deans, Department Heads, and Chairs, publishing the University’s statement of affirmative action goals and objectives, Rev. Hesburgh articulated this commitment:
"I have long since come to the conclusion that no amount of rhetoric can bring social change in a society, not even in such a committed society as the University of Notre Dame. We are committed to academic excellence, but, at the same time, we are committed to achieving this goal within the context of justice for all our minorities who in one way or another have never had an adequate share in the task here. I have no problem in visualizing this search for excellence with the constant concern for justice in the matter of hirings and promotions. It is not an easy task, but it will have to be accomplished at the departmental level because that is where the hirings mainly take place."
In his annual address to the faculty delivered on October 8, 1996, President Rev. Edward A. Malloy reaffirmed the University’s commitment to affirmative action:
"In a time in the history of American higher education when opposition to this policy of affirmative action has become commonplace and strident, I want to urge us to ratchet up our commitment. I am convinced that affirmative action is the best method available to make Notre Dame a more inclusive and representative institution."
Additionally, Provost Nathan O. Hatch, in an address to the faculty delivered on September 18, 1996, identified increasing the presence of women, racial minorities, and Catholic scholars as one of the Provost’s “Six Priorities for Academic Life” at Notre Dame. Noting that in the next decade the University planned to add as many as 150 new faculty, in addition to replacing faculty who choose to retire, he stressed that special attention should be given “to women, people of color, [and] persons who would enliven Notre Dame as a Catholic center of learning . . . .”
Diversifying the Notre Dame faculty remains a high University priority.
However, we are far from achieving the diversity necessary to realize
our aspirations as a premier Catholic research and teaching institution.
In 2003, the number of faculty and students from historically underrepresented
groups remains below the national averages for other institutions of higher
education. As Father Hesburgh stated, “no amount of rhetoric can
bring social change.” In other words, good intentions, and an adherence
to a written policy of non-discrimination, will not, by itself, change
the racial and gender composition of the teaching-and-research faculty.
Notre Dame’s strategic plan for the next decade calls for giving
special attention to translating the ideal of faculty diversity into a
reality at Notre Dame. That our best efforts have been largely unsuccessful,
especially with regard to increasing the numbers of African-American students
and faculty, suggests the need to re-examine our efforts and strategies
and to take bold steps in new directions. Specific strategic goals should
include a commitment to double the numbers of African-American full-time
teaching-and-research faculty by 2012, to strengthen and raise the visibility
of African-American and multicultural studies at Notre Dame while continuing
to support and strengthen Hispanic/Latino studies, and to expand and intensify
efforts to recruit and retain faculty and students from historically underrepresented
groups. At the same time, as Rev. Hesburgh correctly observed, if success
is to be realized in this endeavor it must be accomplished at the departmental
level where faculty recruitment and hiring takes place. Therefore, strategic
planning must continue to emphasize accountability at the departmental
level as well, and ensure that every reasonable effort is made to include
highly qualified women and racial minorities in the faculty applicant