SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation aimed at increasing diversity among the ranks of faculty at Illinois colleges and universities. Senate Bill 3107 will strengthen a minority graduate fellowship program designed to expand the pool of diverse candidates for faculty positions throughout higher education.
“Our system of higher education should be as diverse as the state it serves,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “Diversity of background, experiences, and viewpoints – is what college is all about. This legislation will help bring the benefits of our diverse culture to classrooms and campuses for the benefit of all students.”
A study of faculty diversity last year by the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) found that African-American faculty constituted 5 percent and Latino faculty just 2 percent of all faculty at Illinois colleges and universities. Among the study’s recommendations was to combine two existing minority graduate incentive programs – the Illinois Consortium for Educational Opportunity Program and the Illinois Minority Graduate Incentive Program – into a single program to streamline administration and place a stronger focus on securing faculty positions in Illinois for graduates.
Senate Bill 3107, sponsored by Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park), creates the Diversifying Faculty in Illinois Higher Education Program. Fellows in the program are eligible for stipends to assist in their graduate study. An oversight board will be comprised of academic leaders in a position to influence faculty hires as well as representatives of minority advocacy organizations. The new law includes an annual reporting mandate so the IBHE can monitor the progress in placing graduates in Illinois faculty jobs.
“Diversity has long been an educational value of the Board of Higher Education, and this legislation underscores that commitment to bringing diversity to our classrooms. We in the higher education community commend Gov. Blagojevich, Sen. del Valle and Rep. McCarthy for their vision in promoting diversity through this important legislation,” said James L. Kaplan, IBHE Chairman.