Up, up, up

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

Whether classes fall under the ethnic studies program or not, students will experience more diversity during their academic career this year.

According the U’s Budget and Institutional Analysis, the number of professors from ethnic backgrounds has increased in the last 10 years.

The number of Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander professors has increased the most from 1996 to the fall of 2006, when the survey was most recently taken.

There are currently 106 Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander professors at the U, increasing the total percentage of Pacific Islander professors by 2 percent from 10 years ago, when there were 84.

Haruko Moriyasu, director of the Asian American Studies program, said having an increase in the diverse faculty increases students’ opportunity to receive a complete learning experience.

“Ethnic professors bring different ideas and approaches to the classroom,” Moriyasu said. “And often times, it’s a perspective that many students had never seen before.”

Black professors have also increased their percentage by .7 percent. There are currently 17 black professors at the U, an increase since 1996 when there were only eight.

Hispanic professors have increased by 1 percent and nearly doubled in size. There were 29 Hispanic professors in 1996; now there are 48.

American Indian or Alaska Native professors have increased by .1 percent, or by one professor since 1996. Small increases in diversity, however, benefit students in big ways, said Daniel Edwards, director of the American Indian Studies program.

“Being a professor from an ethnic background brings different life experience to students,” said Edwards, who is also a processor in the ethnic studies program. “It also gives students learning opportunities that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.”

U student Austin Fought agreed that ethnic professors bring a “rounder” class experience.

“I had a professor that was very knowledgeable of European cultures and that gave me a whole different viewpoint of how I’ve seen it in Western perspective,” said Fought, a senior in geography.

But compared to other states, the 19 percent of minorities that make up the faculty population is low.

Bryan Francis, senior in communication, said that when he studied in San Jose, California, almost half of his professors were from a diverse background.

“The teachers there were very diverse, and that brought in a different type of learning experience,” Francis said.

But increasing the number of professors from ethnic backgrounds may not be that easy for the U, Edwards said.

“It’s difficult to hire our own,” Edwards said. “It’s hard to get people to come work here because most people stereotype Utah as being unfriendly to minorities.”