W&M is serious about affirmative action

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W&M is serious about affirmative action


Last week The Flat Hat reported the allegations of Ely Dorsey, an official of the local NAACP and a visiting professor, that William and Mary’s hiring practices are racially motivated and that the College is not committed to its Affirmative Action programs. He offers as evidence the fact that there are only six black professors on campus.

I submit that the number of minority faculty members indicates little, if anything, of the College’s intentions or practices and that Mr. Dorsey is dead-wrong in his charges against the school. He apparently reached his conclusions after surveying the William and Mary hiring scenes from his School of Business vantage point. While I cannot speak as a representative of the College, I have worked in the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Programs three of the past four semesters and am in a position to refute his claims.

A citing of the number of minority faculty members only tells how many minority applicants accepted an offer of employment. I know that the College is actively engaged in recruitment of minority candidates. In addition to maintaining and continually updating its own vita bank, William and Mary employs a computer-based system that allows it to tap into the vita banks of other Virginia colleges and universities. The credentials of appropriate candidates are referred to department search committees for review as positions become available. Those considered qualified for further review are personally asked to submit an application. Like other universities, the College places paid advertisements in newspapers and national education journals to publicized position vacancies. In an effort to better reach prospective minority candidates, William and Mary also prints its own announcements, which it sends to numerous predominately-black colleges, universities, service organizations, and professional societies.

Mr. Dorsey notes that the School of Business has successfully attracted qualified blacks to its faculty - and for only $250 over its recruitment budget. The suggestion is made that the College could spend more money on recruitment. Money is one of the factors in the low number of black faculty members here. It is no secret that William and Mary professors, particularly in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, are relatively underpaid. But, beyond increasing salary offers, this is not a problem that money can remedy. Other factors that Mr. Dorsey apparently fails to recognize are the dearth of qualified blacks in many subject areas and the fact that the College can only consider for employment those who apply.

Other factors can be cited to explain why black professors are so few in number at the College. I challenge Mr. Dorsey to present concrete evidence of the “element of racism” and lack of commitment to Affirmative Action that he believes taint the College’s hiring practices. Unless and until he can do so, he should refrain from spouting assertions of the sort reports last week, which only serve to divide the community.


Swem Special Collections


October 4, 1985
Flat Hat Volume 75 Number 6


William and Mary Flat Hat


October 4, 1985


Rachel Brown, metadata and transcription


The Flat Hat 10-04-1985.pdf


Swem Special Collections, “W&M is serious about affirmative action,” The Lemon Project, accessed September 15, 2019, https://lemonlab.wm.edu/items/show/173.

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