The Quest for a Diverse Faculty: Theory and Practice

For the past half century, universities and professional schools have been on a quest for the academic analog of the Holy Grail—a diverse faculty. In this article, I distinguish two types of diversity: social group diversity and viewpoint diversity, examine the argument made by the advocates of faculty social group diversity, and conclude that it is a strong prima facie argument for not only faculty social group diversity, but faculty viewpoint diversity as well. I then examine the method universities and professional schools currently employ to increase social group diversity, show that there exists a superior method that, in theory, could cheaply and equitably produce the desired diversity in a single year, and explain why, at present, this method cannot be put into practice. I also examine what is required to attain faculty viewpoint diversity and show that, unlike social group diversity, faculty viewpoint diversity could be quickly achieved at relatively low cost. I conclude by suggesting that universities and professional schools are most likely to realize the benefits of faculty diversity by redirecting their efforts toward making the theoretically superior method of attaining faculty social group diversity practicable while, simultaneously, actively pursuing faculty viewpoint diversity. In doing so, I offer my analog of a map to the Holy Grail.