SANDY — A 33-year-old Utah State Board of Regents policy on women and minorities in faculty and administrative positions that's been on the books but apparently never acted on has undergone substantial revisions and will be considered by the regents in May.
The regents' Academic and Student Affairs committee reviewed the latest version of the policy on Friday, which calls for "wage and salary data for all faculty and staff, disaggregated by gender, race, and ethnicity."
According to memo to the regents from Utah Commissioner of Higher Education David Buhler, current board members want to monitor the representation by gender, race and ethnic group of the faculty and staff of the Utah System of Higher Education, as well as the effects of salary equity on that representation.
"This is particularly important because there is research that demonstrates that students from diverse backgrounds are more likely to participate in higher education and continue to completion if they see individuals like themselves represented in the faculty, staff and administration of higher education institutions. Appointments of women to the presidencies of four of the eight Utah System of Higher Education institutions have brought the power of these appointments into sharp focus," the memo states.
Regent Nina Barnes lauded the staff for its thorough work on the policy update.
"I’m just thrilled to death. I’m so pleased because I think this addresses so many issues we see across the state," said Barnes, who is the vice chairwoman of the board of regents.
The system analysis should have been available for decades "and it has not been available. That's why we're doing this," she said during the meeting held on the Miller campus of Salt Lake Community College.
The committee pulled the policy from its agenda to address some minor changes.
According Utah System of Higher Education general counsel Geoffrey Landward, the data would be collected by internal auditors and reviewed by experts to ensure "the conclusions we use for policymaking are accurate and informed by the context they come from" before their release.
The data would be protected in the audit phase, he said.
Barnes requested that language in a supporting memorandum be changed before it is presented to the full board.
As written, it said "the regents have a long history" of actions designed to focus attention on and to encourage representative participation in the Utah System of Higher Education for students, faculty and staff.
"If we’re really working to be transparent and honest and reflect at our shortcomings, it’s important we identify and not sugarcoat it that we’ve been doing all this because I don’t believe we have," Barnes said.6 comments on this story
The proposal also has an updated title: “Gender, Race and Ethnicity Representation within the Utah System of Higher Education.” Its title had been "Women and Minorities in Faculty and Administrative Positions."
The policy update would clarify the board's goals of employing "a diverse, representative and equitably compensated workforce," as well providing "an educational experience for students rooted in diverse perspectives, experiences and backgrounds."
"As findings from a thorough process for data collection and analysis becomes available, the board can direct future actions to achieve the policy goals," the memo states.