Paul L. Caron
Dean



Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Facade Of 'Fit' In Faculty Searches Frustrates Diversity Hiring

Inside Higher Ed, Study Finds the Concept of Faculty Fit in Hiring Is Vague and Potentially Detrimental to Diversity Efforts:

Faculty search committees often pick candidates based on their supposed fit. But rather than a defined metric, fit is a highly subjective concept that opens the door to racial and other biases, according to a new study in The Journal of Higher Education [The Facade of Fit in Faculty Search Processes].

Beyond providing a novel analysis of faculty fit and its implications for diversity, the paper is also a fascinating window into the pre-COVID-19 hiring process in general. The study confirms what many already believe or suspect about academic hiring: that it typically privileges perceived research impact over all else and that it runs on what’s been called cloning bias, or homophily.

Still, the paper doesn’t vilify the concept of fit altogether. Instead, it advocates standardizing fit, such as through the use of jointly designed rubrics, to uncover and calibrate search committee members’ preferences and to promote diversity.

Author Damani K. White-Lewis, a postdoctoral scholar in counseling, higher education and special education at the University of Maryland at College Park, said recently that fit, “both as coded language and an overall model of candidate evaluation, is poorly suited to justify academic hiring decisions.”

At the same time, he said, “If we can get away from using [fit] so blanketly, there may be opportunities to use design thinking to promote more equitable hiring.” ...

White-Lewis recommends that institutions adopt criterion-based fit processes and, more generally, equity-driven evaluation procedures. While using hiring rubrics did not eliminate biases in some of the searches studied, he wrote that “jointly creating and calibrating rubrics allows faculty to explicitly state and defend their own leanings, expose their biases, and ensures that equal and fair criterion is applied consistently.”

Rubrics must also include equity considerations, he said, to challenge the status quo of “guarded discussions around racial equity” and “convert biases related to engaged research, teaching, and service into competitive advantages necessary to support twenty-first century learners.” ...

George Justice, professor of English at Arizona State University and author of How to Be a Dean (and an opinion contributor to Inside Higher Ed), said he doesn’t believe in fit, as it's "almost always an excuse to make a bad hire." “I always believe in hiring for excellence, which I believe strongly will increase diversity. I also believe strongly in some kinds of targeted hiring for diversity and excellence,” he said.

Justice said that he views fit as “always idiosyncratic,” and that instead of fit, search committees should set "explicit criteria of excellence."

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2020/07/the-facade-of-fit-in-faculty-searches-frustrates-diversity-hiring.html

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Comments

"But rather than a defined metric, fit is a highly subjective concept that opens the door to racial and other biases."

This sounds exactly like Harvard's selection process, whereby Asian applicants were systematically rated lowest on a subjective personality test, while black applicants were systematically rates highest on the same test. Coincidentally, of course. Harvard achieved its preferred racial makeup by employing just this kind of subjective bias.

Posted by: MM | Jul 30, 2020 5:57:08 PM

@MM,

You are aware that SFFA lost its case at trial, yes? Feel free to look it up (if you know how). Now where was the thirty years of conservative concern trolling after the Bush 41 Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education found that underqualified white legacy and recruited athletes were gaining admission over Asian-American applicants* but ruled it was OK because Harvard had a vested interest in cultivating sports teams money, I mean multi-generational Harvard families?

*Asian and Asia-American are two different groups in college admissions but whatever.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 1, 2020 12:16:50 PM

Unemployed Troll: "You are aware that SFFA lost its case at trial, yes? Feel free to look it up (if you know how)."

I'm aware and already did that, sir. It's just fascinating, here you are again defending Harvard's admittedly discriminatory practices, which create disparate outcomes based on race. Good to know that you have absolutely no problem with the following practices, which I'll quote from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal:

"During the proceeding, it was revealed that Harvard consistently rated Asian-American applicants lower than others on traits like positive personality, likability, courage, kindness and being widely respected. Asian-Americans scored higher than applicants of any other racial or ethnic group on other admissions measures like test scores, grades and extracurricular activities, but the students’ personal ratings significantly dragged down their admissions chances. Alumni interviewers give Asian-Americans personal ratings comparable to white applicants, but Harvard's admissions office rates Asians as the worst scores of any racial group."

"Harvard itself found a bias against Asian-American applicants in an internal investigation in 2013, but had never made the findings public or acted on them. Plaintiffs and commentators have compared the treatment of Asians with the Jewish quota in place in the early 20th century, which used deficient personalities as the reason for excluding Jews in elite universities."

As for your reference to "underqualified white legacy", never heard of it. And per my standard policy regarding everything you claim, without any third party citations, I don't believe a word you have to say on the matter. Nor should anybody.

I'm neither interested nor obligated to search for information YOU can't or won't do yourself.

Posted by: MM | Aug 1, 2020 4:52:15 PM

P.S. I'll just observe that it's fascinating, the lengths that these elite institutions have to go at places like Harvard to exclude Asian Americans, and in the past Jewish applicants, is proof that they're meritocratic in nature to a large degree.

Why else would you systematically score only Asians Americans lowest on the most subjective measures?

Leaving aside Mr. Unemployed's profession, for which he has a personal axe to grind about all the time, impressing nobody, I'll actually say something positive about my profession, economics. It's a global profession, it's open to everyone, and it's meritocratic. Asian Americans and Jewish Americans excel in my profession, because they're good at it. Most anybody can be if they apply themselves.

Whining about a lack of diversity is evidence of a complete detachment from reality. Full stop.

Posted by: MM | Aug 1, 2020 7:12:52 PM

" It's just fascinating, here you are again defending Harvard's admittedly discriminatory practices, which create disparate outcomes based on race."

Saying that my recitation of the outcome of a case is siding with Harvard is about the most pathetic pap I can think MM. And if you can't find any of the contemporaneous or reflective coverage of the 1990 investigation by the Department of Education into Harvard's admissions practices by putting typing it into a search engine, it's entirely not my problem. You can also try reading about it in Jerome Karabel's "The Chosen," which is this fancy thing called a book. You can find it in a library, or a bookstore, or from Internet retailers, or...

As for underqualified legacies, since you've at least shown you can parrot that you've heard of the SFFA case, maybe look into SFFA's expert witness Peter Arcidiacono's brace of NBER papers analyzing the data that came out of discovery. Spoiler alert: he found that about 1/3 of accepted white Harvard undergrads in the 2010s was a legacy, recruited athlete, child of faculty, or dean's interest who would not have gotten in on their academic merits.

If you don't know what NBER is, ask the nearest adult. And for someone who purportedly doesn't believe me, you sure spend a lot of time responding to my posts. Oopsie.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 1, 2020 10:52:21 PM


UT: "And for someone who purportedly doesn't believe me, you sure spend a lot of time responding to my posts."

For the record, you responded to my comment, and you didn't even address my point. You introduced an irrelevant point about white legacies from decades ago, which has nothing to do with student applicants overall. And I wasn't parroting the plaintiffs, I was quoting from the New York Times and Wall Street Journals summaries of the judge's ruling.

And I'll quote some more:

"In her ruling, Judge Burroughs states that there are no quotas in place at Harvard, despite acknowledging that the school uses the racial makeup of admitted students to help determine how many students it should admit overall."

For the record, that's de facto racial discrimination against non-whites, and a highly coincidental racial quota system. The ruling is on appeal.

I'll also quote from several studies the plaintiffs presented:

- Golden (2007) wrote that "most elite universities have maintained a triple standard in college admissions, setting the bar highest for Asians, next for whites and lowest for blacks and Hispanics".
- Espenshade & Radford (2009) Asian Americans have the lowest acceptance rate for each SAT test score bracket, needing to score on average 140 points higher than a white student, 270 points higher than a Hispanic student, and 450 points higher than a black student.
- Unz (2012) The percentage of Asians at Harvard peaked at over 20% in 1993, then immediately declined and thereafter remained roughly constant at a level 3–5 percentage points lower, despite the fact that the Asian-American population has more than doubled since 1993. "The relative enrollment of Asians at Harvard was plummeting, dropping by over half during the last twenty years, with a range of similar declines also occurring at Yale, Cornell, and most other Ivy League universities."
- Sander (2014) "No other racial or ethnic group at the most selective Ivy League schools is as underrepresented relative to its application numbers as are Asian-Americans."

And if you actually objected to racial discimination against non-whites, and a racial quota system, you've spent an awful lot of time NOT making that clear. So, like the judge in this case, I'll interpret your silence as consent for those practices.

I understand exactly where hypocrites on the left, seems redudant saying that these days, are coming from on this issue. Racial discrimination is o.k. when it's directed at the most objectively qualified applicants in a meritocratic system.

Thank you for illustrating that for all to see.

Posted by: MM | Aug 4, 2020 9:20:25 PM

"And I wasn't parroting the plaintiffs" [MM follows up by citing more instance from the plaintiffs' losing legal argument]. Oh, and look - citing to an open white nationalist, Unz! Classy. Incidentally 25.3% of the Harvard Class of 2023 is Asian-American.

"You introduced an irrelevant point about white legacies from decades ago, which has nothing to do with student applicants overall"

No, actually it illustrates that conservatives don't care if Asian-Americans lose out to underqualified white applicants; only to affirmative action. Because this litigation was nothing more than another attack on affirmative action by the anti-civil rights agitator who brought us Fisher and Shelby County.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 6, 2020 12:24:35 PM

UT: "He found that about 1/3 of accepted white Harvard undergrads in the 2010s was a legacy, recruited athlete, child of faculty, or dean's interest."

He did not conclude special admissions in those categories, which comprise less than 6% of total applicants, were "underqualified", let alone white. Conflating legacies with athletes, who have the highest admission rate, along with early applicants, which other studies have done, doesn't actually prove anything. And the plaintiff cited Unz. You can disregard him for his political beliefs, that's fine, but I don't see any actual dispute over of the evidence that was cited.

The very same Peter Arcidiacono you cite also concluded that Harvard *discriminates* against Asian American applicants period, even adjusting for special admissions like athletes and legacies:

http://public.econ.duke.edu/~psarcidi/realpenalty.pdf

The discrimination manifests itself both in a direct penalty in admissions, but also in an Asian American penalty in some of Harvard’s ratings. Asian Americans are stronger thanwhite applicants on the observables associated with each of the ratings with the exception of the athletic rating, which was not modeled. Yet, on ratings like the personal and overall rating, Asian Americans receive lower ratings."

And you have yet to acknowledge or even object to Harvard's racially discriminatory practices. You claim Harvard will be 1/4 Asian in 3 years. Really? Can you prove that? I doubt it.

This is why people shouldn't take what you say at face value.

Posted by: MM | Aug 6, 2020 8:53:49 PM

As I wrote upthread, Arcidiacono wrote a brace of NBER papers. The one I am referring to is "Legacy and Athlete Preferences at Harvard." Since you did such a great little job finding the other paper - gold star! - I'm sure you can find this one, too. In it, Arcidiacono found that 43% of white enrollees to Harvard over the discovery period (most of the 2010s) were legacy, recruited athletes, children of faculty, or dean's interest. Of that group, he concluded about 75% of them would not have gotten accepted without those factor(s). That works out to about 33% of white Harvard enrollees over that time. Math! Helpful.

"And you have yet to acknowledge or even object to Harvard's racially discriminatory practices. You claim Harvard will be 1/4 Asian in 3 years. Really? Can you prove that? I doubt it."

Yeah gosh it's not like I got that 25.3% figure from Harvard's website or anything. Go child, find out some information for yourself. Maybe show some support for your f*cking ridiculous contention that everything would collapse if the top cap gains rate matched the top personal income tax that you posited in another thread, while you're at it.

And yes, I will absolutely discount the naked white nationalist Unz and all that post him as support - including you.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 7, 2020 8:39:53 AM

More evidence racial discrimination, from a Center for Equal Opportunity study of Harvard's admission policies from a few years ago:

http://www.ceousa.org/attachments/article/1237/CEO%20Study%20Harvard%20Investigates%20Harvard.pdf

"Asians experienced the biggest impact when all nonacademic factors including race were added, resulting in an Asian admit percentageof 18%, down from the hypothetical 43%.Legacy plus athlete dropped them 12 percentage points; extracurriculars plus personal ratings, 5 points. From there, Asians dropped a final 8 points and made up 18% of all admits."

Also:

"African American and Native American: Fourth and fifth in importance was the consideration of race. Being African American had a coefficient of 2.37 - slightly lower than having a high personal rating or legacy status, meaning that being African American was worth almost as much as having a high personal rating or being a legacy."

Feel free to toss the evidence you don't like by disparaging the authors.

Meanwhile, over at the University of Pittsburg, Professor Norman Wang has been removed from his position for questioning affirmative action. Also, over at UCSF Medical School, Asian American admissions declined by almost HALF in a single year, from 2019-2020, coincidentally of course.

If Mr. Unemployed wants to continue blaming white people for discriminating against Asian Americans, I suggest he clearly specify that he's blaming white leftists who run these institutions for perpetuating the discrimination, for the very best of reasons of course.

Posted by: MM | Aug 7, 2020 1:26:54 PM