Recruiting & Retaining Faculty of Color

10+1 suggestions on how to recruit and retain faculty of color

Recruiting & Retaining Faculty of Color

The Twitter hashtag #BlackintheIvory is brutally honest. How courageous of black scholars to share these racist encounters in higher education.

What I'm sharing below – for free – are some suggestions for leaders at universities and colleges on how to recruit and retain faculty of color. These suggestions are based on my experiences and observations in U.S. higher education, as a graduate student and faculty. There is a baseline, of course, in how we treat one another respectfully and empathetically, but in addition to that, leaders should consider:

1. Developing a robust mentorship program for recruiting and retaining faculty of color. Have a plan and make sure you consider local and administrative challenges and issues (that is, issues and challenges specific to your institution). The National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity would be a good starting point.

2. Encouraging faculty to reside wherever they so choose. (This is probably specific to liberal arts colleges.) A shuttle to and from a major city that operates 4 or 5 days a week could go a long way to attract faculty of color who may wish to live in a more urban community (farther from where the institution is located).

3. Doing cluster hires for tenure track faculty and postdoctoral scholars of color across the Arts & Humanities, History & Social Sciences, and Mathematical & Natural Sciences divisions. Cluster hires take lots of coordination and planning, so communication across colleges is key.

4. Requiring anti-racist and anti-oppression training--multiple workshops--for non-faculty of color, particularly department and program chairs.

5. Rewarding those departments and programs that nourish a supportive and positive environment for faculty, staff, and students of color.

6. Developing a clear faculty grievance process and holding faculty accountable who remain hostile to junior and senior faculty of color.

7. Identifying faculty of color who would be strong candidates for early tenure or promotion. Tenure and promote them (assistant to associate, associate to full, full to provost)! Look at the named professorships and/or administrative leadership positions at your institution. How many are faculty of color or women of color? How about black women?

8. Abolish teaching evaluations, once and for all. (We can still encourage students to send feedback to us directly. It doesn't and shouldn't have to be shared with a chair, tenure & promotion committee, or dean). If you must, consider in-class teaching observations performed by colleagues as well as faculty reflections. But if a faculty person has little to no training in anti-racist teaching practices, then really who should be observing who?

9. Allocating funding for special programming and projects to be used by faculty in support of diversity initiatives. (Invite black scholars to campus to give keynotes or lead workshops and compensate them well).

10. Strongly recommending that all department and program chairs write a short, annual report on diversity initiatives pursued for that year (regarding programming; faculty and staff engagement; student engagement, etc.). Meritorious departments and programs might receive sizable additional funding to support departmental and program initiatives. (Department and program chairs may opt out of writing such a report, making them ineligible for additional funding.)

11. Provide healthy stipends to faculty (of color) who engage in anti-racist and anti-oppression initiatives (in addition to “counting” it as service work).

Now before I get emails about unfair treatment... I've seen leaders tenure and promote colleagues early; I've seen leaders support spousal hires, not just for faculty but for postdocs too; I've seen leaders spend money on various "pet projects" that have nothing to do with anti-racist or anti-oppression initiatives. My white colleagues are usually the beneficiaries of this.

It's about priorities... and if we really care...  [I will say that, as faculty at both the College of Wooster and the University of New Hampshire, I had the best chairs who went above and beyond as leaders. So, some of us care a lot.]

I've posted some actionable items here. There are more, way more. As a friend of mine once said, do your part, whatever that is.