October 1, 2002

C.U. Stresses Affirmative Action in Hiring Faculty Hiring

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The University is undertaking measures to actively recruit women and minority faculty members. This year, a new postdoctoral fellowship program and increased efforts in each college aim to widen the hiring and retention of female and minority professors.

“I have made the recruitment of women and faculty of color a priority,” said Provost Biddy (Carolyn A.) Martin.

The Provost’s Academic Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship Program “brings underrepresented minority faculty to campus for up to two years during which they can get acquainted with Cornell and our departments can get to know them and their work,” she said.

The program, begun this year, currently has three postdoctoral fellows.

“We hope that some of the postdoctoral fellows will, over time, become candidates for open positions at Cornell,” Martin added. “Having them here permits our faculty to get to know them and helps us, as well as them, build networks.”

Additionally, according to Martin, there is an incentive program which encourages the hiring of women in the physical sciences and engineering. The program provides funding to cover some start-up and salary costs.

Recently, Robert L. Harris, Jr., vice provost for diversity and faculty development, began working with deans to establish and reinvigorate diversity committees in the various colleges. This initiative was presented at the President’s Council last spring.

“The University has sought to attract as diverse a faculty as possible,” Harris said.

Philip Lewis, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, outlined his contribution to the effort.

He will “experiment with an enlarged affirmative action committee in the hopes of stronger recruitment efforts for faculty of underrepresented minorities,” Lewis said.

He noted that some departments in the arts college do not have significant representation of women or minorities.

“We need to intensify our effort to change that,” he said.

In addition to the current efforts within each college through various diversity committees, Harris said that another focus is the hiring of faculty in ethnic studies programs.

They are “currently an area where we have a great need,” Harris said.

The Latino Studies and Asian American Studies programs have three associated faculty each, with two faculty exclusively appointed to the American Indian Program, according to Harris.

“There’s also a need to have more underrepresented faculty in the sciences,” Harris added.

The progress in these efforts is outlined in the May 2002 report “Summary Update: Progress Toward Diversity and Inclusion.” According to the report, 38 percent of new faculty appointments last academic year were women and 21.1 percent were minorities. Since 1991, the number of minority faculty grew by 45.6 percent while the overall faculty size decreased by 2.6 percent. The number of women faculty increased by 40.7 percent in the same time period.

Minorities currently make up 12 percent of the faculty, and women make up 27 percent, according to the report. In the 1991-92 academic year, women made up 17 percent and minorities were 8 percent of the faculty.

Archived article by Andy Guess