College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Faculty Diversity

Recommendations for Hiring and Retaining Diverse Faculty

The University of Northern Iowa is committed to recruiting and retaining a faculty that reflects the rich diversity of our community, state, and nation. UNI plays a critical role in preparing our students for an increasingly pluralistic world in which cultural competency will be key to their contributions to our social and economic well being. We recognize one critical initial step is the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty.

We define "diverse" faculty in the broadest sense of the term and believe efforts to recruit and retain diverse faculty should include all historically underrepresented groups in academia and recruitment efforts should include such factors as sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, culture, socioeconomic background, gender/sex, and religion. These recommendations are made for the College, although we certainly understand that many of the policy issues are addressed in the Office of the Provost.

We recognize three critical steps in the process of diversifying the faculty:

  1. The recruiting stage that begins well before faculty positions are even advertised;
  2. The hiring and orientation stage that involves selection of final candidates, on- and off-campus interviews, job offers, and orientation to UNI and Iowa; and
  3. The long-term commitment to retain diverse faculty.
For each of these stages, we make the following recommendations:

1. The recruiting stage that begins well before faculty positions are even advertised

Our recruiting efforts must be conducted much further "upstream" than typical faculty recruitment patterns at UNI. The key to increasing diversity is to expand the pool of applicants from the identified underrepresented classes.  If we wait until we are in the middle of a search, then it's too late.  Therefore, each department in SBS should:

  • Identify professional organizations within their discipline(s) that might have special access to minority candidates.
  • Identify universities including UNI peer institutions--that might be producing higher proportions of minority candidates. What are these universities doing that promotes higher proportions of minority graduates?
  • Consider recruitment tools that might more easily identify persons from underrepresented groups, since they are understandably reluctant to label themselves in written applications.  For example, in person interviews at national conferences are a good recruiting strategy in general and might also help identify folks to target for recruitment.
  • To the extent that it is consistent with meeting overall department needs, include areas of concentration within job descriptions that might attract underrepresented groups. Coursework dealing with minority issues is something every SBS department should be doing anyway.  This attracts candidates in two ways: (1) by appealing to their interests (understanding, of course, that not every minority person is interested in teaching about their group) and (2) by signaling that the department is really concerned about such issues. This will mean CSBS departments will need administrative support to create new courses on issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, queer studies, disability studies, citizenship, and other topics. This may well result in new jobs that with adequate job descriptions would be very attractive for a whole range of diverse faculty.
  • Support and fund faculty research activities in areas affecting/including oppressed populations, which will encourage faculty to join relevant organizations and attend conferences to present their findings and meet colleagues from underrepresented populations. CSBS should fund travel to these meetings. Potential diverse recruits will also recognize that UNI faculty are interested in similar issues.
  • Tap into current UNI pipeline efforts to recruit minority students in middle and high schools and provide opportunities for their academic enhancement on campus that will increase the likelihood that they will attend college (and hopefully UNI). These are also often referred to as "grow your own" programs like the McNair Scholars program at UNI. These pipelines are typically related to math and science. Perhaps CSBS should start a similar pipeline for students interested in the social sciences.

2. The hiring and orientation stage that involves selection of final candidates, on- and off-campus interviews, job offers, and orientation to UNI and Iowa

  • When members of underrepresented groups are being interviewed, make sure that they connect with others on or off campus who are members of their group or have interests related to their group.  This needs to be pursued carefully, so they don't feel like they are being labeled or ghettoized.  For example, since Iowa has a national reputation as a homogeneous state, letting African American candidates know about our vibrant African American community in Waterloo might help overcome their fears of being isolated here. Similar efforts can be made for Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, and others.
  • Establish one or more floating positions that are available to departments, which had identified a highly qualified minority candidate.  (Political Science used one these lines to hire one minority faculty member.  We realize this is difficult under tight budgetary circumstances, but given the overall scarcity of minority PhDs in virtually all disciplines, this may be the only way to significantly improve faculty diversity over the long haul.
  • Form a CSBS committee with representation from each department to (1) Determine historic and current turnover rates for female and other underrepresented populations in CSBS; (2) Determine specific determinants of this turnover by interviewing faculty who leave the university; (3) Monitor department efforts to identify and recruit diverse faculty and report these efforts to the Dean on an annual basis.
  • Provide on-going anti-bias education for departmental faculty and staff that is relevant, taught by professionals who are experienced in such issues as privilege, overt and covert discrimination within academia, at UNI, etc.
  • Create and fund spousal/partners hiring policies so prospective diversity candidates find UNI an attractive place to apply (e.g. see University of Washington as a model) and remain. This would increase the numbers of overall applications for new positions and would give departments more options to increase their numbers.
  • Fund a two- or three-day orientation experience for all new hires prior to starting classes. This travel seminar should physically introduce new faculty to diverse and typical Iowa populations, neighborhoods, and communities in eastern Iowa. This tour should include tours of major employers (including meatpacking plants), school districts, places of worship like the mosque and synagogue in Waterloo. This tour should orient new hires to the real Iowa with which most new hires cannot be expected to be familiar.
  • Provide competitive salaries and maintain the current UNI practice of making health care benefits available to all faculty partners.

3. The long-term commitment to retain diverse faculty

  • Make sure candidates from underrepresented groups have opportunities to participate in presentations and events that celebrate their group or address issues relevant to their group. Again, we don't want to force them into a role as "spokesperson for their group" but engagement in group related activities can make them feel that their diverse presence is valued on campus.
  • Reward service and applied research that allows them to address the needs of their particular group.
  • Ensure that new diverse faculty have adequate mentors (in and out of their departments) who can not only aid them in their professional growth but also with ensuring their research is getting done at a reasonable pace to ensure tenure.
  • New faculty from underrepresented groups are often doing more than their share of advising and mentoring of students of color or other diverse students. While this can often be an enjoyable part of the job, it is important that other faculty be equally committed to mentoring and advising these students and integrating issues related to diversity in their own teaching.
  • CSBS should also reward adequately the work done by faculty on issues related to diversity on and off campus. (e.g. mentoring of underrepresented groups on campus, how to integrate themes of diversity into courses, providing cultural competency training off campus, etc.).
  • Accommodate flexible meeting and work hours that take into consideration commuting patterns associated employment of trailing spouses/partners.

CSBS Diversity Council
Mark Grey, Chair
Xavier Escandell
Laura Kaplan
Allen Hays
March 2, 2010