Stanford President Bows to Demands, Will Increase Minority Faculty Members

Share via
Times Staff Writer

Stanford President Donald Kennedy, faced with increasingly strident student demonstrations, announced Thursday that he will attempt to hire 30 minority faculty members within the next decade.

But he stopped short of endorsing key demands of students, and recommendations of a 240-page report he commissioned, including a proposal that an ethnic studies course be made a graduation requirement and that financial aid programs be increased. He said he is studying all proposals.

Kennedy, speaking to the faculty in an annual report to the Academic Council, also said the university will attempt to increase minority enrollment in graduate programs.


“We confirm that many minority issues and concerns are not the special pleadings of interest groups but are Stanford issues--ones that should engage all of us,” Kennedy said.

The report was released in April by a committee of 20 teachers, administrators and students who spent 18 months studying minority issues at Stanford. Kennedy asked for the study after complaints about the treatment of minorities on the 13,000-student campus.

The report made 120 recommendations, among them calls for the addition of 30 minority faculty members to be hired in the next decade, a doubling of the number of minorities enrolled in doctoral studies, and the addition of an ethnic studies course to the graduation requirements.

Kennedy’s speech followed a week of demonstrations by students who are demanding additional ethnic studies courses and minority teachers. In an action more characteristic of its cross-bay rival, UC Berkeley, students took over Kennedy’s office on Monday. More than 50 were arrested. Stanford had not witnessed a take-over of the president’s office since 1971.

“I fear that events of this week have wrought heavy damage and may have rekindled doubts among our friends as to whether we are a community dedicated to rational process and deserving of their respect,” Kennedy said.

However, he said he will meet with students on Monday to discuss the issues.

Kennedy said his speech was prepared before the student demonstrations and that he was not pressured by the actions.


At the same time, the faculty is debating whether to make more explicit prohibitions against racial and sexual slurs by amending Stanford’s so-called Fundamental Standard. The two-sentence standard says students can be expelled for failing to show “such respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens.”

Some critics say that any expansion of the standard would infringe on freedom of speech.

Racial incidents in the past year fueled the debate. In one, someone scrawled a racial epithet on a poster announcing a party at a black fraternity. In another, masked students held a vigil outside a predominantly minority dormitory.

For all the negative attention that Stanford has gotten lately, the university in some ways has taken a lead in reaching out to minorities. Over criticism from such persons as former Education Secretary William Bennett, the university two years ago expanded its mandatory Western Culture course to include writings by women and minorities.

And although other universities have looked at campus race relations, Stanford’s undertaking is unusually complete. A month after its release, the university continues to field an average of 35 requests a day for copies and may require a second printing.

Although more than a third of the students are minorities, the report said that 20 years after Stanford began targeting minorities for recruitment, its record is mediocre compared to other research universities, and fewer blacks and Latinos are enrolled now than in 1973.

Points to Areas of Ignorance

The report also cited students’ “widespread ignorance about the history and culture of American racial minorities.” Most incoming white students, the products of upper-class rearing, have had little contact with minority or poor youngsters.


The report chided the university for not having Asian-American or American Indian courses, and for making “frustratingly slow” progress in the hiring of minority teachers.

Albert Camarillo, a history professor who chaired the group that prepared the report, said that while many departments have made concerted efforts to recruit minority faculty, others have not. And of 66 minority faculty members who were on the tenure track between 1978 and 1987, 25 resigned and another 16 were not promoted.