In some fit of civic-mindedness, I agreed to be nominated for our university-level Faculty Senate, now that I'm tenured and all, and then was surprised to be elected. So today was my first meeting of the Senate. I was alternately interested and bored out of my mind, about what I expected.
The reasons I agreed to serve on the Senate were partially my responsibility to my department (as one of the largest depts in our college, we need people on various governance committees to report information back to our own faculty) but also my curiosity about other areas of the university. Large Urban University comprises a variety of professional schools as well as liberal arts and sciences. Looking around the room during the Senate meeting, I realised I hadn't actually seen so many people from the other schools and divisions since my New Faculty Orientation seven years ago. What does the faculty of LUU look like? Older white American men, and younger white European men. In a room of 50 Senators present, there were 7 women: 14%, a bit under our overall representation on the full time faculty -- a lousy 25%, way under the national average. In English, my own department, women make up 39% of the full time faculty (and about 75% of the active engaged members) , so it's easy to forget what the overall picture looks like. In the Senate today, there were only 3 non-white faculty present. LUU has not been very successful in recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty, although our city and our student population are extremely multicultural. It's good to be reminded of these things, though it's also pretty depressing.