Affirmative Action

02. Preface - Handbook for Faculty Searches with Special Reference to Affirmative Action

Since 1964 the federal government has passed legislation and issued executive orders designed to achieve equality of employment, end discrimination in hiring and remedy the effects of past discrimination. Michigan State University has not only complied with these measures, but has also frequently and in a variety of ways, demonstrated its commitment to ameliorate the negative effects of discrimination and to achieve the ideals of affirmative action. MSU prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, political persuasion, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, height, weight, veteran status or age. While significant progress has been made, MSU has not yet reached its goal of a heterogeneous faculty and student body with substantial representation of women and minorities.

There are four groups of people who, in terms of federal guidelines, are classified as racial/ethnic minorities: Blacks, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and American Indians and Alaskan Natives. In addition, women, Vietnam-Era Veterans and persons with disabilities are designated as "protected" classes and are also the focus of affirmative action/equal opportunity concerns.

Affirmative action should not be confused with passive compliance with regulations, tokenism or good intentions. It is, instead, a proactive concept which implies initiating aggressive, vigorous and systematic activities to achieve equality and equity for all individuals. There is no single activity at this University more essential to realizing MSU's affirmative action goals than the selection of new faculty and academic staff. Hiring women and minorities, it has been demonstrated, adds cultural richness to an institution and enhances its vitality and excellence by broadening instructional, curricular and research efforts. A diverse faculty also encourages greater pluralism in the student body by attracting women and minorities, while their presence as role models and their efforts at mentorship increase the retention and development of students from protected groups.

Equity, educational, organizational and business reasons require MSU to advance the diversity of its faculty/academic staff compliment. One must be mindful that there are significant differences in the backgrounds, perspectives, needs and interests of individuals and that these differences should be taken into account in evaluating the unique qualities and contributions of each applicant. Furthermore, to achieve the departmental and institutional goals of diversity and richness in our faculty, we must make a commitment to diversity in hiring, not just targeting one group at the expense of others.

The University Bylaws for Academic Governance (1975) defines a key role for the chairpersons and unit directors (2.1.2.), ( and provides for strong faculty involvement (, (2.1.3.), (2.2.1.), (2.2.8.) in the search and selection process. Unit and college bylaws may specify policies and procedures in addition, but must not contravene the University Bylaws (2.2.1.). Responsibility for the recruitment, retention, and development of faculty is fundamentally influenced by faculty values and attitudes because all of these activities are undertaken by individual faculty and faculty committees. This handbook is designed to assist in attracting and retaining women and minority scholars and creating a diverse workforce at Michigan State University. Our goal is to achieve a new spirit of welcome and collegiality that will produce improved representation through a commitment to the institutional benefits of diversity within our community.

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