Strategies to Increase Faculty Diversity Guiding Principles and Processes 2014-2017


For reasons of intellectual vibrancy and pedagogic integrity, the University of Utah aims to increase the diversity of its faculty over the next three-to-five-year period. We share a belief that the university will better serve local, national and international communities when our scholars and educators come from diverse backgrounds, that the success of our students can be enhanced by models and leaders of varied backgrounds, and that raising our institutional profile is linked to a climate of inclusivity, facilitated by a diverse campus community. Moreover, and quite importantly, our faculty is not as diverse as our student body, nor is it as diverse as the population of Utah.

In Spring 2014, an ad hoc faculty committee recommended several strategies for increasing faculty diversity. The purpose of this brief communication is to articulate the process for enacting some of these recommendations in a clear and open manner for the benefit of departments and colleges. It is anticipated that these strategies will be implemented for a three-year period, with both an annual evaluation and a three-year assessment, after which time a more complete consideration of effectiveness will be made.

Resources to Accelerate Recruitment

An amount of funding has been reserved to allow academic units to accelerate the recruitment of faculty from diverse backgrounds. For the purpose of this recruitment effort, increasing faculty from diverse racial-ethnic backgrounds (U.S. historically underrepresented groups: African American/Black, Hispanic/Latina/o, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander) will be prioritized (note that Health Sciences may have specific priorities for increasing diversity of faculty, based on representation in their units). Female faculty in fields where they are significantly underrepresented, along with faculty of other underrepresented identities, may be considered on a case-by-case basis, if resources permit. The primary focus will be tenure-track faculty; career-line faculty who will engage large numbers of students may also be included in this recruitment effort, again on a case-by-case basis.

For the next three to five years, available resources will be used to accelerate recruitment of faculty from diverse backgrounds, as outlined below:

  • When a scholar-teacher from an underrepresented group is the top candidate in an approved faculty search process, campus resources for salary support, up to 75K/year, will be available. These resources will remain in the hiring unit for a duration determined by the respective Office for Equity and Diversity according to the process described below.
  • When a scholar-teacher from an underrepresented group is a qualified and desired second candidate in an approved faculty search process, campus resources will be available to support a portion of the salary for a finite period of time, up to 40K/year for salary for a period of three years.
  • A matching program will be available for units who wish to develop a post-doctoral fellowship program for scholars from diverse backgrounds. The post-doctoral fellowship program would allow a unit to recruit a scholar who may benefit from additional time for scholarship prior to assuming a tenure-track role. The fellowship may be up to two years in duration, with an option to offer a tenure-track faculty role to the individual, either through a search process (with terms as outlined above) or through a search waiver, as outlined below. The cost of the post-doctoral fellowship will be matched 1:1 (unit:campus). Responsibility for identifying a mentor or mentoring team for the fellow, and locating a lab environment, if applicable, rests with the academic unit. In units where post-docs are not the norm, one-year visiting faculty appointments may be requested for underrepresented faculty.
  • In rare circumstances, a time-sensitive opportunity to recruit a scholar from a diverse background at another institution may arise. In such cases, where there is also need and interest in an academic unit, a search waiver may be requested from the Office of Equity and Diversity to recruit a specific individual.

Process to Request Support

For units on the main campus, the Office of Equity and Diversity (via AVP Kathryn Stockton) will manage the process of providing financial support associated with recruitment of faculty from underrepresented groups, with the assistance of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. For units in Health Sciences, the Office for Equity and Diversity (via AVP AnaMaria Lopez) will manage the process, with assistance from the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences.

Each academic year, resources will be set aside for these strategic hires. It is possible that the available funds will be expended during a hiring cycle, in which case not all requests will be able to be accommodated. Thus, a process for tracking commitments is necessary. In FY2016, we will begin maintaining a record of all planned faculty searches, built through the budget process, and use this spreadsheet as a tool for also tracking diversity hiring efforts.

For candidates who are underrepresented coming through a search process, the department chair should confer with the dean regarding the opportunity and contact the appropriate Associate VP for Equity and Diversity/OED in writing (email is sufficient) regarding the opportunity and whether the recruitee is either the first or second candidate. The OED will then monitor the outcome of the search, indicate the financial commitment, and assist with recruitment efforts. Email communication should include an indication of support of both the department chair and the dean.

For units seeking to recruit and appoint a post-doctoral fellow or visiting faculty member with matching fund assistance, the appropriate Associate VP for Equity and Diversity/OED should be contacted in writing (email is sufficient), regarding the process for identification of a prospective post-doc, assurance of mentoring plans, and shared financial commitment to the effort. Communication should include an indication of support of both the department chair and the dean for the effort.

In the unusual event of a targeted recruitment due to special circumstances, a request for a search waiver should be made to their respective Associate Vice President for Equity and Diversity/OED. These requests must be approved prior to beginning any recruitment process.