The position of president at universities across the country is a good ole boy’s club. And the University of Idaho is no exception.On Monday, UI announced the five finalists for the office of president. On that list were four white males and one white female.
UI has only had one female president in its history, and no president of color. We’ve had two presidential searches in the last 10 years, and there were no females in the list of finalists for either of them. And there was only one person who wasn’t white — an Iranian.
For this search, the finalists were chosen from a pool of 70 candidates. I find it hard to believe there was not a single qualified person of color in that pool either now or during any of the past searches . I find it equally difficult to believe there has been only one woman in the last 10 years who is qualified enough.
According to the American Council on Education’s 2012 survey, racial and ethnic minorities are represented in only 13 percent of college presidencies. Women are at about 25 percent.
UI should be making more of an effort to put women and minorities into high positions of leadership. It is unacceptable that in over 120 years of service to Idaho, only white males have headed our institution, with a solitary exception in Elisabeth Zinser.
The importance of diversity in administrative positions is more than just an issue of fairness or equity. It’s about bringing unique worldviews to the table.
A woman or person of color is going to have a vastly different lens through which they see life than a white male, by virtue of being positioned in the world differently due to gender or skin color. And a different perspective is what higher education is supposed to be about.
College is about expanding horizons, opening minds and meeting new people — from all backgrounds. That goes for students, professors, administrators and the office of the president.
I’m not arguing that a woman should be hired just because she’s a woman. Or a person of color be hired just because he isn’t white. But the fact is there are hundreds of equally qualified, diverse individuals who also possess the one thing our usual presidents do not , a different perspective. And that different perspective can only serve our university well, both now and in the future.
Kaitlin Moroney can be reached at email@example.com