Higher Education

David Randall, Ph.D. | May 5, 2022

Oklahoma higher ed is hiring (conservatives need not apply)

David Randall, Ph.D.

Oklahoma’s radical higher education establishment wants to make sure that the next generation of professors will only include radicals. It’s not as if Oklahoma professors were conservative before, but at least they were being hired for job-related skills. That’s coming to an end. The radicals are seizing control of the job advertisements for new professors. If you use the right words to craft the requirements, you can make sure that only radicals will be hired.

Consider two similar job advertisements, one with and one without the new radical requirements.

The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) is hiring an Instructor in Musical Theatre. Aside from the dangerous implications lurking in “adheres to the educational philosophy of the university” (“educational philosophy” now can mean “diversity, equity, and inclusion”), the job confines itself to professional qualifications, such as “extensive performance and teaching experience in the field of musical theatre” and “ability to direct stage productions at a professional level.” UCO (at least formally) just wants anybody who can teach students how to put on a good show.

By contrast, the University of Oklahoma (OU) has inserted extensive language to limit job applicants for an Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre Performance to a radical fringe.

We are seeking an acting teacher/stage director in musical theatre who … can equip our majors with the skills to develop their unique artistic voice, explore and expose oppressive structures and power dynamics within our culture and artform, and increase the incorporation of inclusive pedagogies in our classrooms. ... Additional areas of expertise may include non-Western performance techniques, especially from the African diaspora, Latinx, Asian, or Indigenous cultures, or specializations in works from a Feminist or Queer theatre perspective.

Oppressive structures. Power dynamics. Inclusive pedagogies. Latinx. Feminist. Queer. While UCO’s job advertisement will likely secure a liberal (if only because conservatives are thin on the ground in musical theatre), it would be a liberal hired purely for professional talent. OU’s job advertisement, by contrast, makes radical advocacy part of the job.

‘Culturally Responsive Pedagogy’

The radicals have inserted the same sort of language in job advertisement after job advertisement. At UCO, the English department is hiring “a poet whose work significantly engages with issues of race/ethnicity, identity, and culture and who has a strong commitment to antiracist and social justice pedagogy.”Applicants are required to submit a “teaching statement that demonstrates commitment to racial justice in the classroom.”

UCO English also seeks an assistant professor with a specialty in English Education “who is committed to equity-driven teaching, especially in culturally responsive pedagogy. Preference will be given to those who embed such practices in their teaching, scholarship, and service.” Application requirements include a “philosophy statement regarding culturally responsive pedagogy and diversity, equity, and inclusion in English education.” Just requiring knowledge and love of good books is out of date.

UCO is also advertising for an assistant professor of “Indigenous/Tribal Governance, Master of Public Administration.” Applicants must submit a “1–2 page essay on diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The political requirements sometimes are scarcely visible. OU Libraries seeks a Director of Open Initiatives & Scholarly Communication, who must possess “commitment to diversity, equity, respect, and inclusion.”

Sometimes they are more extensive. OU Psychology, in addition to encouraging applications for the position of Chair “from women, members of minority groups, veterans, those with disabilities, the LGBTQIA community, and all others who are committed to excellence, inclusion, and diversity,” also requires the submission of “a statement regarding your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The Gallogly College of Engineering, which seeks to hire for three Faculty Positions in Advanced Manufacturing and Materials, stipulates that

The Gallogly College of Engineering holds strong the values of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We seek candidates who contribute to fostering an inclusive culture in all aspects of faculty responsibility, including within the classroom, the academic community, and within their professional commitments. ... Applicants should provide ... a statement discussing their professional experience with and how they intend to promote the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Knowing how to build things that work is no longer enough.

Diversity Bloat Expands

The Gender+Equality Center at the University of Oklahoma’s Norman campus seeks “a full-time Instructor/Program Specialist committed to building environments where LGBTQ+ students are valued, respected, and provided opportunities to flourish in their pursuits of excellence.” It is true that one would hardly expect someone critical of gay ideology to pursue this position—but that in turn raises the question of why a public university would have a position where ideology is a natural prerequisite.

The University of Oklahoma, which already has more diversity staff than history faculty, is expanding that staff: “The Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is hiring!!!” New hires will include a TRIO Programs administrative coordinator, a Graduate Assistant of DEI, a Director of Upward Bound, and a Director of DEI Outreach and Engagement. Hires for the DEI bureaucracy itself of course will be devotees of DEI ideology.

Oklahoma’s radicals haven’t yet formalized their politicization of the hiring process at Oklahoma’s public universities. The different departments are acting by individual initiative. Yet given the full-on push to impose DEI in universities around the country, we must expect Oklahoma’s radicals to impose tactics which are already being pioneered elsewhere, such as adding “diversity competencies” for tenure and promotion. Once these are in place, every job in Oklahoma’s public universities will require radical advocacy as a professional requirement.

State Lawmakers Must Act

Oklahomans need to end the politicization of faculty recruitment. They should pass laws prohibiting ideological discrimination in all university administrative processes, including hiring and promotion. Perhaps most importantly, they need to give their lawmakers the capability of reducing the budget of any department or administrative office where the job search uses politicized criteria. Oklahomans should give their elected representatives the ability both to inspect the operating budget of their public universities and to conduct a line-item veto on any individual expenditure.

It’s also time to change the makeup of the State Regents for Higher Education and every public university president. Oklahomans deserve regents and presidents who not only will say no to radical proposals but also will take the initiative to redeem Oklahoma’s public universities.

Dudley Randall wrote in “A Poet is Not a Jukebox” that

I repeat, A poet is not a jukebox for someone to shove a quarter in his ear

and get the tune they want to hear,

Or to pat on the head and call “a good little Revolutionary,”

Or to give a Kuumba Liberation Award.

But Oklahoma’s radicals want jukeboxes instead of professors. So long as they can craft their job advertisements, they’ll get what they want.

More in this series:

David Randall, Ph.D.

David Randall is the research director of the National Association of Scholars. He earned a Ph.D. in history from Rutgers University, an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Columbia University, a master’s degree in library science from the Palmer School at Long Island University, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College. Prior to working at NAS he was the sole librarian at the John McEnroe Library at New York Studio School.

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