Diversifying the faculty initiative

What you can do

There are a number of ways you can buld on last year's success in hiring faculty from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Here are a few:

Serve on a search committee.  Committees need people that understand the value of diversity, appreciate the ways that search team dynamics can impact the success of a search, and are willing to step forward and contribute both their time and talent.

Educate a colleague.  Few issues stimulate greater differences of perspective and viewpoint than does diversity. Members of the ISU community, just as in society at large, are at different places intellectually and emotionally on this issue. So long as we stay focused on the purpose of this initiative - attracting the very best talented and highly capable persons by building deep, diverse candidate pools and actively recruiting candidates who would clearly meet our high standards of excellence - we can be successful. Thoughtfully helping a colleague to work through discomforts on this topic will go a long way to achieving success with the initiative and in the long term, to building a culture and climate of support for diversity.

Be Willing to Ask for help.  Not everyone is an expert in this subject, but often we feel we must be experts and thus are reluctant to ask for help. Asking others who you feel may have a deeper understanding is the best way forward. Members of our majority and minority communities want to help and appreciate the candidness that comes with being honest. Use those resources to your personal and unit benefit.

Call people you know who are or who know potential candidates of color.   Any search is aided by considering it a contact sport, especially so for encouraging applicants of color who may not have a clear idea about the institution and it culture and climate. There is nothing more important to building a deep, diverse pool than working personal contacts and encouraging potential candidates to apply. Often search teams, search chairs, and department chairs are reluctant to do this out of fear that it is tantamount to compromising the integrity of a search and giving all candidates a fair chance at a position. However, the recruitment phase has nothing to do with the evaluation phase and so long as you do not promise a candidate that “they will get the job” and you do follow the search procedures that were advertised, you are fine. If you would like some coaching support on how to make this kind of call to a prospect, please let us know.

Consult lists of diverse candidates that currently exist.  There are a number of valuable lists of diverse candidates that you can easily consult, that have brief bios/vitae, and that have candidate contact information. A number of these can be found under the Resources link on the Diversifying the faculty Main page.  The Affirmative Action Office and the Office of Diversity have helpful resources. By serendipitous luck, the state of Illinois has perhaps one of the best scholarship programs for supporting doctoral candidates of color. However, at this moment in time, many are having trouble finding jobs in Illinois. Given our proximity, consulting their lists and making personal contact with perspectives may prove very fruitful to us:

Advocate for a candidate of color.  It is human nature to draw conclusions/make assessments about others through the lens of one’s own experience. This is especially true of a search process when we are provided relatively little information about a person but have a high need to make judgments that reduce a pool in size and ultimately make decisions on finalists. Research shows that when candidate pools are reduced, particularly before any kind of a face to face interview, judgments are made on credentials or assumptions about credentials that disproportionately eliminate candidates of color. These types of evaluations are often subtle and linked to paradigm beliefs about what makes for acceptable scholarship, teaching, and service. Advocacy for candidates who have credentials that do not necessarily conform to a perceived norm (often meaning what my training or background was, something that at an historically white institution like ISU is often the majority membership on a search committee) is critical. A search committee that is intentional about playing devil’s advocate with candidates and who have members willing to advocate for a candidate whose credential may be somewhat different, will likely arrive at a definition of excellence that is more expansive than those search committees that do not.