Well, she didn't say it in those words, but Pitzer President Laura Skandera Trombley gave vocal support to some of the more dangerous, anti-educational theories floating about in the ether.
At The Chronicle of Higher Education's Second Annual President Forum, President Trombley participated in a panel discussion addressing the issue of diversifying colleges' executive suites (read: racial and gender preferences for candidates from weaker academic backgrounds teaching classes). The Chronicle's Sara Hebel recorded Trombley's answers in the September 28, 2007 edition.
On preparing an institution for "diversity" (she means racial, gender, ethnic, etc.):
Diversity has to be a goal of the board of trustees and viewed as a core value of the institution; otherwise, it will always remain on the margins. No one group should serve as an institution's symbol of diversity. It cannot be students; it cannot be staff; it cannot be faculty. Efforts to increase diversity have to involve everyone.
Trustees must support diversity initiatives, do outreach, and emphasize when they are conducting presidential searches that not only are they interested in a diverse pool of candidates, but also that the institution is ready for that diverse pool of candidates. I have been a candidate where it was clear that I was the "diversity candidate," and everyone was thrilled that their institution was so forward-thinking. But, in my view, if I was such a big surprise, that indicated that more foundational work needed to take place at that institution. Colleges can accomplish that by asking diversity experts to come in and help educate various groups on their campuses.
Let's borrow a phrase from liberals themselves. Let's deconstruct this argument. By education she means indoctrinate and by diversity becoming a major goal, she means the major goal. She will extend diversity only to certain ethnic groups. Diversity of political viewpoints will not factor into her decision.
On socially engineering everyone to think like she does:
Trombley, to her credit, makes sure that students and students alone aren't the only people who have to sit through re-education: faculty and administrators, you too, despite your PhDs and other degrees, have to spare a weekend for social engineering. In responding to a question about how to deal with a black CEO, she should have said, "If the person is qualified, just deal with it." Instead she gives us her weekend-retreat solution (if these issues were really that pressing, one wonders why they are solved so quickly in small groups, but I digress):
I would suggest taking the administrative cabinet and the president on a retreat, perhaps with a consultant, where people spend the night off the campus so they do not have to try and juggle two or three things at the same time. I would also try to make it a safe space where people can ask honest questions. And at the conclusion of the retreat, I would try to come up with some common goals that unite everyone.Why do people have to be removed from academia? Isn't Pitzer a safe enough space to ask honest questions? Are we to infer that it isn't?
In keeping with Trombley's theory of removing people from the general real world so that they can be transformed and reeducated, she advocates a new "alternative" (read: anti-meritocratic) means of finding presidents.
Of course, people who have never taught in a classroom or who have never chaired a department, might not know the difference between needs and wants in their community and so remain ineffective managers, but that doesn't really matter in a world where the "major goal" of a President is not the endowment or the education of the students, but the diversity of everybody.
Trombley: If you look at the pipeline, the typical path to the presidency is to become a department chair and then to become a dean and then move to the provost's office, and so on. But if you look at the percentage of deans who are people of color or women, then you see some startlingly small numbers.
What needs to happen at the departmental level is for administrations to actively promote people or think of alternate ways in which people can reach the presidency. I was never a department chair. My first administrative position was as an affirmative-action officer, and I had people across the college warning me not do it because they thought it would end my career. But I ignored them and went ahead and became an assistant provost and then went on to become dean of the faculty at a different institution.