NEW PALTZ, N.Y. (NEWS10) — State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced Tuesday the addition of 72 newly hired faculty across 21 SUNY campuses to further expand the PRODiG program launched two years ago.

The goal of the PRODiG program (Promoting, Recruiting Opportunity, Diversion, Inclusion and Growth) is to increase the representation of historically underrepresented faculty in the SUNY/CUNY system including underrepresented minority faculty in general and women faculty of all races in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.

Chancellor Malatras was joined by SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian as well as faculty and students. At SUNY New Paltz, steps have been taken to educate and reform current practices with things like implicit bias training and to include more BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) faculty working in STEM fields.

“One of the longest standing and most unfulfilled challenges facing higher education is to diversify the workforce of the academy and to create learning and working environments that are equitable and inclusive so that every member of our community can achieve their full promise,” said SUNY New Paltz President Don Christian. “PRODiG has created a framework and offered funding for intentional and sustained change and helped us take bigger and bolder steps in our journey to be a more inclusive campus.”

Chancellor Malatras announced a 25-Point Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan back in September 2020 to help close racial equity gaps and to eliminate cultural and racial discrimination across SUNY campuses.

“While SUNY’s students more broadly represent the diversity of New York State and a cross-section of our nation and the world, we acknowledge the need and importance to have a more diverse faculty,” said Chancellor Malatras. “By creating a pipeline and backing it with dedicated support, our PRODiG program has already increased the number of new faculty hires from under-represented minorities by nearly 40 percent, and we will continue to expand this program to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion remain not just the mission of SUNY, but that it is also followed up with real, sustainable change to close racial equity gaps, and eliminate cultural and racial discrimination across SUNY.”

In order to meet that goal, SUNY has taken steps to bring in a more diverse faculty so that students of color feel more represented in order for them to thrive in the world of higher education. Currently, 10.7% of SUNY students are Black and 14.2% are Hispanic while only 4% of faculty are Black and 3.4% are Hispanic.

SUNY currently has 149 faculty across 31 campuses that are part of the PRODiG program. Of all new faculty at SUNY New Paltz, 41% reportedly come from underserved areas. Of the newly hired 72 faculty across SUNY campuses, eight were hired at the SUNY New Paltz campus.

Chancellor Malatras noted that while these actions are steps in the right direction there is more work to be done. Currently only 20% of community colleges within the SUNY/CUNY system use the PRODiG program.