Almost 16 percent of the tenured and tenure-track positions on the Princeton faculty are held by members of minority groups, a percentage that has increased slowly but steadily over the last decade, according to statistics provided by the office of the dean of the faculty.

The total number of tenured and tenure-track faculty (defined as full, associate, and assistant professors) who are African-American has risen from 16 in 2000 to 25 in 2009, raising the percentage from 2.5 to 3.5 percent. Much of the increase is attributable to the opening of the Center for African American Studies in 2006.

The numbers for other minority groups on the faculty also have increased. The percentage of Asians in tenured and tenure-track positions has risen from 8 percent in 2000 to 9 percent in 2009 and the percentage of Hispanics from 2 to 3 percent. There is also one Native American faculty member. Overall, the percentage of minority faculty has risen from 13.2 percent in 2000 to 16 percent last year. The hiring of women has increased as well: The percentage of women in tenured and tenure-track positions has risen from 21 percent in 2000 to 25 percent in 2009. The figures do not include academic officers of the University who are also professors.

Minority representation continues to vary widely among academic disciplines. African-Americans currently account for 5 percent of the faculty in the social sciences and the humanities, for example, but only six out of 322 total faculty positions (1.5 percent) in engineering and the natural sciences.  

Officials admit that it has been difficult to identify large numbers of qualified minority candidates and then to hire those who are identified, particularly in engineering and the natural sciences. “There is not a large pool from which to choose, and there are many players who wish to hire from this very small pool,” explained Dean of the Faculty David P. Dobkin in an e-mail.

“Although we have a fair number of minorities among our undergraduate population (though it’s never enough), the proportion drops in our (and everyone else’s) graduate-student population, which is the population we will ultimately hire from­,” Dobkin said.

A concentrated effort is being made to identify and lure qualified female and minority faculty candidates through the Target of Opportunity Search Committee, which is run by the office of the dean of the faculty. That approach, said President Tilghman, “has absolutely paid dividends over the years.” Tilghman said Princeton has made progress in faculty diversity, but added: “Am I satisfied with the progress? The answer is absolutely no. We can do much better.”

Another way to promote the hiring of minority doctoral students, at Princeton as well as at other institutions, comes from mentoring through their departments and through the graduate school’s office of academic affairs and diversity, said Dean William Russel. Princeton’s minority Ph.D. students, Russel added, “are doing quite well in the job market.” The graduate school aggressively has been recruiting qualified minority applicants.