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Columbia University commits $100 million to diversity

A joint event by Culture Shock and the Asian American Alliance on November 19, 2016. Image via Facebook/Columbia University Asian American Alliance.

Over the next five years, Columbia University will be committing US$100 million to diversifying its faculty in an effort to boost the low numbers of minority teachers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the university on Thursday announced the funding to help attract a more varied student population, which would lead to more innovative research.

Since 2005, the university has spent US$85 million to recruit and retain faculty from groups that were considered underrepresented.

Vice-provost for faculty diversity and inclusion Dennis Mitchell was quoted as saying the “reality” is that universities could not “really achieve excellence” without diversity.

“It requires diverse thought to solve complex problems.”

According to the WSJ, the university has in the past faced problems with recruiting and retaining scholars from minority groups. Officials said only nine percent of its 1,637 faculty members were African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Pacific Islander, of which 30 percent were women.

(File) The university has in the past faced problems with recruiting and retaining scholars from minority groups. Source: Shutterstock

As Columbia University sometimes faced challenges recruiting women in the sciences, in cases where it struggled to pay for jobs for their partners, Mitchell said some of the funds would help in recruiting dual-career couples. But this will change will the additional funds.

“We don’t have to scramble the way we have in the past trying to patch together resources for the partner.”

Columbia’s University Medical Center is spending US$50 million as part of the commitment on diversifying.

The initiative is similar to efforts undertaken by Yale University which committed US$50 million to the same cause in late 2015. The City University of New York also received a US$541 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to ensure its professor population was diversified.

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