Recruiting Diverse Faculty at NC State

Diverse NC State faculty

You may be wondering what NC State is doing to increase diversity among the faculty. Recruiting diverse faculty, supporting the success of faculty from groups that are underrepresented or isolated in their disciplines, enhancing the climate for all faculty and celebrating the diversity in NC State’s community are all key elements for fostering a vibrant and diverse faculty. Five NC State initiatives address the first element, recruiting diverse faculty. These initiatives emanate from various entities around the university; one is from the Provost’s Office, three are from academic colleges and one is from the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity:

  1. Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program
  2. College of Humanities and Social Sciences Departmental Faculty Diversity Plans
  3. Pilot Program on Recruiting Diverse Faculty
  4. College of Education Search Committee Checklist
  5. College of Natural Resources Standard Operating Procedure for Faculty Searches

Twelve interdisciplinary clusters were formed in the first round of the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program (CFEP), with the goal of hiring 42 faculty. The hiring process was different from the usual process for hiring within single disciplines in that special guidelines were drawn up for a cluster search process. Under these guidelines, each CFEP search committee participated in a discussion about diversity in faculty searches, and Laura Severin, special assistant to the provost and professor of English, worked with the search committee chairs to facilitate the search process, including providing assistance with dual-career and target-of-opportunity hiring. This hands-on approach resulted in hiring larger fractions of both women and underrepresented minority faculty than in typical departmental hiring; 17 of the 41 faculty hired (41%) have been women and 6 of the 41 (15%) have been African American or Hispanic/Latino. For the second round of cluster proposals, which were solicited in 2014, the “potential to attract diverse faculty” was added to the list of criteria for selecting clusters for funding. These three elements: (1) discuss diversity with faculty search committees; (2) pay attention to diversity throughout the search and facilitate diversity efforts; and (3) incorporate faculty diversity as a goal or criterion, provide a successful model that can be adapted by regular departmental searches.

The Black Faculty Representation Working Group recommended in 2013 that each academic department develop a plan for recruiting and retaining diverse faculty. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS) launched an initiative in August 2013 requiring every department to prepare a diversity plan. Under the guidance of Juliana Nfah-Abbenyi, assistant dean for diversity and professor of English, with the assistance of the CHASS Diversity Advisory Committee, every department crafted a faculty-written plan for recruiting and retaining diverse faculty. The process of debating and writing these plans has resulted in possibly the most diverse group of entering tenure-track and tenured faculty in CHASS history.

In Summer 2015, the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity launched a pilot program on Recruiting Diverse Faculty. The pilot, which draws elements from the CFEP approach, includes the following elements, some for department heads and some for faculty search committees:

  1. Summer workshops prepare department heads and deans for pre-search activities with topics such as composition of the search committee, making the academic case for faculty diversity while charging the search committee, developing the position description, periodically assessing the diversity of the applicant pool, creating accountability and becoming knowledgeable about the Target of Opportunity Hiring Program.
  2. Marcia Gumpertz, assistant vice provost for faculty diversity and professor of Statistics, meets with search committees early in the search process to discuss how faculty diversity fits into the requirements of the faculty position under consideration and how diversity would enhance the contributions expected from this position. At the same search committee orientation, Ursula Hairston, assistant vice provost for equal opportunity, presents search committee best practices.
  3. Workshops on unconscious bias in faculty searches present recent research on optimal decision-making processes and unconscious bias in the selection processes.

Sixteen department heads, three deans or assistant deans and a vice provost participated in the summer workshops, and eight search committees have participated in the search committee orientations and workshops on unconscious biases in faculty searches this fall.

The College of Education has developed a diversity checklist for faculty search committees.  The checklist incorporates the elements of the pilot program on Recruiting Diverse Faculty described above. In addition, it includes several recommendations about ways to attract a diverse pool of applicants and suggestions about conducting the campus visit. The checklist is available on request from Valerie Faulkner, chair of the College of Education Committee on Multicultural Initiatives and Diversity (COMID).

Finally, the College of Natural Resources has adopted a standard operating procedure for faculty searches. The dean of the college charges each search committee, making the academic case for diversity among the faculty and actively tracks the composition of the applicant pools with the chairs of the search committees. Each search committee in the college participated in the pilot program on Recruiting Diverse Faculty, and the college held a special meeting for all faculty to discuss faculty diversity. The standard operating procedure is available on request from Thomas Easley, chair of the CNR Diversity Committee.

Please consider adopting some of these approaches for your own departmental faculty searches, or join the Recruiting Diverse Faculty pilot program. If your college or department has a faculty diversity initiative, we would be interested in sharing that information with the NC State community. Contact Marcia Gumpertz for more information about any of these initiatives.

Dr. Marcia Gumpertz is assistant vice provost for faculty diversity in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity.