The number of Black faculty members at the University of Maryland increased by about 26 percent from 2021 to 2023, according to data from the institutional research, planning and assessment office. 

Several university community members commended this increase in Black faculty and highlighted the need for inclusive hiring and retention processes. Offices at this university, such as faculty affairs and diversity, equity and inclusion have attempted to increase diversity in recent years, but progress varies largely by academic colleges and departments

This university has also seen Hispanic faculty increase by about 12 percent and Asian faculty increase by about 4 percent during the same timeframe, according to IRPA. The number of Black faculty members at this university has increased about 50 percent since 2016, according to IRPA

“We're always proud of our focus to improve the makeup of our institution based on excellence and on diversity and inclusion at all levels,” university president Darryll Pines told The Diamondback.

Sharon Harley, an African American studies professor, said she has noticed the number of Black faculty members increase at this university in her 30 years working here.

Although this university is not a “complete utopia” in terms of faculty diversity, she said, the support for Black faculty members through grants or collaboration with other faculty is encouraging.

“The numbers have grown so incrementally, I don't even know many of the new faculty,” she said. “I think it's quite impressive.”

Despite the recent increases in Black faculty, there are still disparities between faculty and student populations at this university. In 2023, the Black students made up nearly 13 percent of this university’s student body, while the Black faculty population was less than seven percent, according to IRPA.

There were 12 Black students for every one Black faculty member at this university in 2023. For every one white faculty member, there were five white students, according to IRPA.

Some departments at this university, such as computer science, did not have any Black faculty members in 2023, according to IRPA.

A factor that might cause these differences is that the number of Black faculty receiving doctoral degrees in recent years has not seen a large increase, according to Georgina Dodge, this university’s diversity and inclusion office vice president.

Steps to recruit and support doctoral students include initiatives by the graduate diversity and inclusion office and a president’s fellowship, according to the diversity and inclusion office’s 25 demands dashboard.

The dashboard was born in 2021 after five Black student leaders collaborated with this university’s administration to create a list of 25 demands that aimed to address anti-Black racism. The first demand listed was to “increase the number of Black faculty, staff, teaching assistants, administrators and advisors at the university.”

The diversity and inclusion office is still looking to make this university a “welcoming environment for faculty of color,” Dodge said. In addition to creating training programs around hiring, the office is in the process of hiring an equal employment opportunity officer who will work with different departments to increase diversity, she said.

This university saw increased retirement and a hiring freeze during the pandemic, John Bertot, the associate provost for faculty affairs, said. As the pandemic subsided, this university increased hiring.

That increase coincided with the announcement of programs intended to increase diversity among faculty, he added.

One of the programs — the Faculty Advance at Maryland for Inclusive Learning and Excellence initiative — started in spring 2021 under the faculty affairs office and has recruited more than 32 faculty members as of November, Bertot said.

“I'm very, very pleased with the progress we’ve been making even over the last few years, but there's more that could be done,” Bertot said.

The program’s main components include a fellowship for postdoctoral scholars and targeted hiring for assistant professors and senior tenured faculty.

[UMD administration, students hope to maintain campus diversity post-affirmative action]

Junior government and politics major Mason Minus, this university’s Black Student Union president, said he has had five Black professors over his last two semesters at this university. His Black professors have taught “color-based classes” such as women of color in politics or Black politics, he said, while some of his white professors have taught other grassroots government and policy courses.

Minus has observed the increase of Black faculty at this university but said there is a small divide in the classes taught.

“It's nice to have a Black professor to show you an example of what you could become and what you could amount to,” Minus said. “On top of that, it helps boost confidence in the classroom.”

Solomon Comissiong, Nyumburu Cultural Center's assistant director of student involvement and this university’s Black Faculty and Staff Association chapter's president, said some Prince George’s County natives have not seen this university as a “warm and welcoming place for folks of color.”

There are many Black scholars who research topics such as mass incarceration, the war on drugs and structural racism that could play a significant role in creating equitable policies, Comissiong said. But this university needs stronger retention strategies for Black faculty who pursue these areas of study, he said.

Welcoming faculty who study these topics will make this university “fearless when it comes to supporting the scholars that are lending their scholarship towards dismantling a range of social justice and race-based inequities,” he said.