INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
A lack of diversity on Indiana universities’ boards of trustees could be
hindering the institutions’ abilities to adapt to increasingly diverse
students and staffs, experts say.
Star review found that women hold barely a fifth of the seats on trustees
boards across the state, even though they outnumber men at most of the
state’s public universities.
Indiana isn’t alone
in its lack of diversity on the boards that make major decisions including
hiring presidents and controlling multimillion-dollar budgets. Nationally,
just 28 percent of public university trustees are women, according to a
five-year survey conducted in 2010 by the Association of Governing Boards of
Universities and Colleges. Less than a quarter are minorities.
“You can see things
have pretty much been stable or plateaued or stagnant, whatever word you
want to use, in terms of gender diversity since the survey in ‘97,” said
Merrill Schwartz, the vice president of the Association of Governing Boards’
consulting arm who conducted the 2010 survey. “Things don’t change that
leaders say it’s OK that the governing boards don’t reflect the diversity of
students and staff because they aren’t tasked with representing them.
“It’s a matter of
what individuals you have on your board,” said Rick Hall, chairman of the
trustees at Ball State University. “We have strong individuals that are
sensitive to making sure that all members of the Ball State campus feel
welcome and their needs are addressed.”
Schwartz said good
intentions aren’t enough and that some important issues can be overlooked
when a board lacks diversity.
One example, she
said, is graduation rates, which are much lower for low-income and minority
students than for others. If no trustee comes from a low-income or minority
background, Schwartz said, critical viewpoints could be missed in solving
spokeswoman for Gov. Mike Pence, said diversity is a consideration, but not
the determining factor, when Pence appoints trustees.
Pence has appointed
15 men and eight women to university boards since taking office in 2012.
Denault said his priority is to find the person with the right skills and
That can mean
successful alumni, major donors, business leaders, attorneys or former
governors and universities should seek out as much diversity as possible,
looking not just at gender but at age, religion, race and sexual orientation
“Do I think it
makes a difference?” Schwartz asked. “I do.”