My colleague Bob Martin wrote in our local paper about the lack of ideological diversity in the faculty. He was approached by a student who wanted to start a pro-life student group, and was looking for a faculty advisor. Bob, a moderate libertarian on this issue, declined. But he was also struck by the realization that he was not sure any member of the faculty would be willing to advise such a club. In part, he was not certain what most colleagues' views on the issue were. In larger part, though, he knew that the overwhelming majority would not agree with the students – and suspected that our handful of pro-life faculty members would feel uneasy about sponsoring such a group in public.
Centre College is the most collegial college I know. We do have a range of views, and yet are quite civil to one another about our differences. As anyone who knows academia can testify, this friendly state of affairs is unusual. Still, like nearly every secular faculty we are heavily tilted to the left, though we teach a much more centrist student body.
Last year we were hiring a new dean of the faculty (called a provost some places), which is always a momentous event for a college. In the public Q & A with the candidates, several of us came to ask some particular question of each prospective dean. Some of the questions were clearly quite familiar to the candidates, such as "what would you do to promote racial diversity in the faculty?" All of them were for it, and promised vigorous efforts, which I applaud and have long participated in. My question, though, seemed to catch all of them off guard: "What would you do to promote ideological diversity in the faculty?" All of them said some variety of "I wouldn't," though I am happy to say that our current dean gave the most thoughtful version of "no."
Well, now that abstract issue is having a real consequence for our pro-life students. We have never used abortion as a litmus test for faculty selection, of course, nor even asked about it. Yet it is clear that there is almost no ideological diversity on this crucial issue. Worse, the few professors who do stand out against the consensus have qualms that they might be made to suffer if they buck the trend. An untenured faculty member who considered taking on the students' request said "this is one of the few positions that might actually threaten getting tenure."
The real point of seeking "diversity" is to get people who think differently to work together. All the other kinds of diversity are really just proxies for that goal. Students would be better taught by an ideologically diverse faculty.