The recent campus events have not been especially good for fans of academic integrity. Social Justice Warriors (SJW’s) have achieved one success after another while college Presidents have been busier than a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest in confessing toxic white privilege and promising to do “whatever it takes” to appease thin-skinned students of color.
Nevertheless, the news from the front is not entirely depressing. At least when it comes to dumbing down the faculty by diversifying it, the barbarians have been halted. Yes, the University of Pennsylvania and Brown University both have pledged $100 million each, Yale $50 and Johns Hopkins $25 million (among many others) to hire more blacks and Hispanics but such standards-destroying diversification is not about to happen. The reason for optimism is that university administrators have engaged in masterful deceit and those bamboozled do not suspect a thing. Such is the advantage of dealing with stupid folk—they are easily fooled.
First some background. Since the late 1960s universities have pursed faculty diversity so nothing is particularly new. Just read decades of job announcements with boilerplate “minorities and women are strongly encouraged to apply” provisions. Universities have long had special well-funded committees to unearth promising minority candidates to be forwarded to departments with “can you hire this guy and we’ll pay half?” notes.
I recall designated affirmative action “commissars” attached to every recruitment commitment to counter white racist bias against worthy black applicants. Similarly unsuccessful were efforts to identify promising minority candidates early and then hire them before the competition discovered them. The upshot was adding ill-prepared graduate students as full-fledged faculty and then watching them struggle with completing a dissertation and publishing some original research so as to move into a tenure track position. Then there were programs for academically weak black Ph.D.’s to receive an extra a year or two of post-doc mentoring to improve their chances of securing tenure track jobs. Further add mandatory faculty sensitivity training so racially tone-deaf white professors could detect otherwise unnoticed abilities in black applicants. A recent book regarding the paucity of blacks in the pipeline suggested that department graduate admissions committee penalize black applicants by making hurried decisions plus the lack of scientific standards necessary to properly judge minority applicants.
In other words, just about everything to boost these numbers has been tried and everything has failed.
The barely speakable reality is that there are insufficient numbers of worthy minority job candidates. According to National Science Foundation data, African Americans overall earned just 4% of doctorates awarded in 2014 but the figures are far less in the sciences and mathematics—just 1.8% in the physical sciences, 2% of the Ph.D.s in mathematics and 1.7% of those awarded in engineering. In some fields not a single doctorate was awarded to an African American (by contrast, black Ph.D.’s are disproportionately in education). And keep in mind that the few promising graduate students and Ph.D. will probably have far more lucrative offers from private firms and thus reduce the pool to near zero.
Ironically, upping the pressure to hire more minority professors will generate yet more failure. Thanks to the social justice epidemic, Penn, Hopkins, and Yale plus probably every other respectable school will now all be energetically chasing the same tiny talent pool. The normal rules of supply and demand do not apply when seeking black faculty, especially in science and engineering. Supply and demand will “work” only to the extent of more outrageous salaries for those few blacks hired but this generosity will not expand the candidate pool. It’s hard to imagine a struggling black undergraduate deciding on a Ph.D. in chemistry to take advantage of a half-dozen freshly created super-well paid jobs at prestige schools.
Now for the coup de grace to this fakery: the big numbers are obviously pulled out of thin air whose purpose can only reflect calculation of what will silence the agitated fools. How in the world, for example, is Yale going to spend $50 million on recruiting and then hiring a few black professors? It costs almost zilch to assemble a recruitment committee and place the “minorities are encouraged to apply” advertisement in multiple professional journals and then dispatch professors to a convention to track down would-be applicant. Even flying the potential recruit to the campus on a private jet and putting him in the Ritz Carlton and then holding a lavish banquet in their honor will cost less than $10,000.
Nor will grossly over-paying several black recruits to ward off counter-offers from rivals add up to more than a million or two per year. In fact, if Yale hired 10 new minority faculty—a Guinness Book of record level of accomplishment– at a starting salary of $150,000 this would just spend $1.5 million of the allocated $50 million. And this stellar feat would have to be repeated for at decade or more to spend the promised $50 million.
But, success at one school would mean ones fewer trophy professors at rival schools. Recruiting minority faculty is a zero sum game and keep in mind that to reach racial proportionality nationally, the total number of black faculty on American campuses would have to double.
Think of it this way—tens of millions to appease Social Justice Warriors in a game of musical chairs whose only solution is permitting black professors to hold multiple appointments. Like today’s exploited lowly-paid adjuncts, prized minority faculty might travel from school to school albeit in private jets teaching a course here, one there and so on so the each university could claim them as faculty.
All and all, top universities are having their feet put to the fire to accomplish an impossible task—the requisite faculty do not exist and, to be frank, will probably never be found. But, as we have said, fakery is so simple. These multi-million dollar commitments can easily be re-routed to intellectually harmless academic apartheid: centers devoted to African American themes that can soak up the otherwise academically unemployable plus armies of administrators of color to organize lavish conferences, dinners honoring visiting scholars and similar run-up-the-bill benefits. For example, protestors at Michigan State University demanded a Department of African American and African Studies with an annual budget of $3 million, twenty fully funded graduate assistantship packages, and, at minimum, ten tenure-stream faculty members by Fall 2017. This is a pittance in the school’s budget but of the utmost important, MSU’s intellectual excellence will not suffer one iota. Quite likely rules covering academic qualification, notably having a doctorate can be replaced with criteria such as working in community organizing or having held elective office.
This deceit should hardly surprise anybody familiar with university politics. Recall the old joke that a friend in the academy is somebody who stabs you in the front. Since no weak-kneed administrator can admit the harsh truth about hiring more blacks, they must resort to the traditional academic stratagems of deceit and subterfuge. They announce attention-getting sums knowing that this money will never be spent, appoint various committees and task forces whose sole accomplishment will be issuing impressive looking reports and Master Plans, and then hire a few well-paid black administrators to go through the motions of finding non-existent faculty.
Who would have ever believed that the lying and deceit so commonplace among university administrators would ever be used to defend high intellectual standards?