Case Tatro ’18 is delving into the workings of higher education administration in a Levitt Center-sponsored research project titled “The Impact of a College’s Board of Trustees on Student and Faculty Diversity.” His summer research aims to elucidate the decision making exchange between a college’s Board of Trustees and its administrators, and specifically how that affects diversity on campuses.
Tatro hopes his study will in some way contribute to the ongoing national conversation regarding diversity of faculty, staff and students on college campuses. He’s conducting research under the advisement of Associate Professor of Economics Emily Conover.
Tatro has quite a challenge before him, addressing one of the most hotly debated topics in higher education. He explained that his research is “looking at who is involved in setting diversity goals for the student body and faculty, if such goals exist, and what role the board of trustees plays in setting these goals, if they are involved at all. I am also looking at the characteristics [gender and racial diversity] of boards of the institutions involved.”
An economics concentrator, Tatro sent confidential online surveys to more than 100 institutions for their each of their trustees to complete. The colleges surveyed are spread around the country and include a range of collegiate institutions, from small state universities to small liberal arts colleges, including Hamilton. These surveys include questions that try to target the demographic range of trustees as well as their self-reported level of involvement in college decision making processes.
The direction of involvement is also of particular interest to Tatro, who wonders that, if there is involvement on the part of the trustees, is it sagacious or reactive to college administrators? In addition Tatro is compiling publicly available information about the institutions, such as location, enrollment and cost as well as their student and faculty diversity.
When he first arrived at Hamilton Tatro had planned to be a world politics major, and only took Intro. to Microeconomics “as a random class.” Now, working directly with Professor Conover he is learning data analysis skills that “will be useful in a career in economics.”
In the end, with the help of strong survey response rates and good data, Tatro hopes he’ll be able to paint a more complete picture of how trustees interact with a college and how those interactions can shape diversity goals on campuses across the country.
After he graduates from Hamilton Tatro plans to pursue a graduate degree in economics then hopes to find a future in international economic policy advising.