Vanguard University is a place where the women outnumber the men, are celebrated as leaders, and are key influencers of everything on Vanguard’s campus, from its spiritual life to residence halls.
Or is it? As many already know, Michael Whitford was recently hired as the Associate Dean of Spiritual Formation, as well as University Pastor. While many are excited to welcome Whitford to the Vanguard community, his hire raises an important conversation about diversity on Vanguard’s campus.
Vanguard proclaims itself to be a university that is exceptionally diverse, and champions that. Students boast about the large number of women on campus, with rumors of the women to men ration being astronomically high at 8:1 (although it is actually closer to 2:1, still).
But as we broadcast such diverse statistics and celebrate how many women and minorities we have on campus, is that reflected in our faculty and staff?
It is interesting that on a campus of mostly women, those in charge of formatting the spiritual life of Vanguard’s students is exclusively white men, as Whitford joins Bryan Rouanzoin and John Allbaugh.
In the Spiritual Formation Department, there are more women than men (4:3), but half of those women serve as assistants to the male leads. At a university that’s student body is nearly 70 percent female and less than 50 percent white, why are all three heads of the Spiritual Formation Department white men? It would make more sense to have at least one woman, seeing as we are predominantly a female campus, and to have at least one African American or Latino head, as well, seeing as we are predominantly non-white.
As a university that falls under the denomination of Assemblies of God, one of the few denominations that actually allows women to be pastors (and in many cases, encourage them to), it seems contrary that we as a university continue to place obscure white men into the spotlight while only giving amazing women such as Dr. Sandie Morgan, head of the Global Center for Women and Justice, the opportunity to speak once a school year. This isn’t a problem exclusive to Spiritual Formation; it seems as if the faculty of Vanguard doesn’t meet the diversity of the students. According to an ethnic breakdown of Vanguard’s undergraduate students from the Office of the Provost, only 39.67 percent of undergraduate students are white. Hispanic students of any race make up 39.45 percent, those with race unknown make up 6.48 percent, and 5.10 percent are African American. While white students may be the biggest ethnic group (and just barely), they do not make up the majority of students.
This is not true for faculty, however. Out of the 14 undergraduate departments, nine department chairs are men. It’s clear we are not lacking in women on campus, so why are women in places of leadership on campus seen so less often than men?
Vanguard tirelessly promotes being an minority serving university, and yet it seems to miss the mark so often when it comes to our faculty and staff.
So where do we go from here?
As a campus, we are all always striving to have our dialogues be more inclusive of voices different from us, what with all of Vanguard’s different clubs, from BSU to ISP. But what we do so well as undergrad students seems to be missed oftentimes by those in authority. In the future, we, as a campus and a community, can be more aware and conscious of the lack in diversity in positions of leadership and faculty. There are always positions that can be filled, and it is up to us to recognize that women and people of color have voices that need to be heard.
And as far as chapel goes, we can increase chapel opportunities for women and people of color to share their voices, be it through more gospel and bilingual chapels, having more women and people of color as guest speakers, and just considering those besides white men for positions when positions open. If we do this, maybe we can become a university that is as truly diverse as we proclaim.