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Institutional and Demographic Frameworks for Affirmative Action IN THE 1990S Louise Año Nuevo Kerr Academic hiring in the 1990s: for some employers, the prospects for attaining, at last, a diverse workforce, have never been brighter. For all too many others, this phrase is an oxymoron. This statement represents great change from a year and a half ago. At that time I was just completing a report to the Illinois Board of Higher Education describing the goals our university was setting and the steps it would be taking to redress current imbalances in the hiring and promotion of females and minorities at all levels in the university, especially among those under-represented in the faculty. Since then, attitudes toward higher education have further hardened, however, and fiscal circumstances are even more constrained. In the last decade higher education as a whole has been under increasingly intense and continuous scrutiny since William Bennett assumed the chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities in the early 1980s. That scrutiny has to some degree been cumulative, beginning and ending with criticism about the lack of accomplishment of students themselves. In between, attacks have been made on various dimensions of the curriculum, from the germination to the rapid spread of the infection of structuralism and deconstruction; to the increasing specialization of faculty and thencourse offerings; and, perhaps most pejoratively, to the women and ethnics who focus on their own history and traditions. These inquiries recently have been followed with analyses of hiring and recruitment policies and practices which—the critics have maintained—pay entirely too much attention to relative and historic proportions of women and minorities. In the prosperous 1980s, the attacks, while vocal and widely circulated , were relatively muted and perceived to represent the views of a limited, politically isolated few. The evolving national policy still supported affirmative hiring and retention policies for faculty and students. However, recent books have woven these criticisms together into a tapestry of censure, especially of those Bennett describes as former radical hippies of the 1960s bent on the destruction of civilization as we have known it. While the number of critics may not have increased, the public's receptivity to critical appraisal of higher education has increased in inverse proportion to the decline of funds to support all public activities in the 1990s, including education. News about the rise in incidents of racial © 1993 Journal of Women's History, Vol. 4 No. 3 (Winter) 142 Journal of Women's History Winter tension on campus has added to the perception that the peaceful "quality" of U.S. education has declined and that changing demography on campus has resulted not just in campus strife but in further dechne in the cahber of the curriculum as well as the faculty and the student body. Bear in mind that while the situation I will outline is sobering, it is not without many bright spots. To begin, those seeking academic employment during the 1990s need to be aware of three trends. • The decade will be one of retrenchment with particular impact on higher education. • These cuts have already led to institutional reassessment of priorities and reallocation of remaining resources. • While affirmative action hiring remains the stated policy of most institutions, attitudes in some departments have been hardening, almost in direct relation to the availability of early retirement. Retrenchment Virtually every state and therefore every state higher education institution in the country has felt the impact of recession. Virtually every state has a deficit, which in most states must, by law, be corrected. Some states have seen real cuts as high as 10 percent or more. Some institutions have been required to cut their annual or biannual fiscal spending only to face additional mid-year cuts. Some colleges and universities have been 'lucky" enough to be given a steady budget, which in real terms—taking inflation into account—represents a budget cut. Private institutions have not escaped. The most sobering examples have been given by Stanford and Yale Universities which have each found themselves with an $11 million deficit. For Stanford, which has hundreds of millions of dollars in endowment, the sum seemed trifling until we calculate the number of jobs this...


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