November 13, 2014

New Measures Underway in Faculty Hiring Process

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One year after outgoing Provost Kent Fuchs initially introduced new search accountability oversight measures for hiring faculty, Cornell is implementing these new protocols — which include increased efforts to include more women and underrepresented minorities among faculty — across the University.

The protocols require that each college put in place “formal search accountability measures that actively engage the dean’s office — or an equivalent college-level oversight function — at key junctures in the faculty search process,” according to Yael Levitte, associate vice provost for faculty development and diversity. Each college must give authority to this oversight function to pause or modify faculty search efforts, Levitte added.

Critical points at which the college must engage the dean or other oversight authority include the time of search initiation, the point before a candidate is invited to interview and the point before an offer is made, according to Levitte.

“[We] aimed to strengthen the accountability structures in the hiring process to ensure we hire excellent and diverse faculty,” she said. “These new measures are but the latest feature in our comprehensive and multi-layered strategy of enhancing faculty diversity through training.”

Fuchs first introduced the new protocols last fall with the expectation that each college at Cornell would take approximately one year to create a unique plan customized to that college’s structure and needs, according to Levitte.

“We expected that each college would come up with a structure that fits its size and structure,” Levitte said.

The institution of these new protocols was motivated by the progress several colleges at Cornell have made already, according to Levitte. The veterinary school and engineering college, which have already had accountability structures in place, “have made great progress in their hiring of underrepresented faculty by gender and race,” Levitte said.

Increasing Diversity Among Faculty

The College of Engineering received a $3.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program in 2006, according to the NSF website. With that money, Cornell created a program called C.U.-ADVANCE, which aims to have one third of all science and engineering faculty be women by 2015.

President David Skorton addressed C.U.-ADVANCE in the Diversity and Inclusion Report published in October by the Office of Diversity and Workforce Inclusion.

“The processes developed through C.U.-ADVANCE have now been institutionalized to address gender and racial diversity through the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity,” Skorton wrote.

Across the University, women do not represent even one third of the faculty: In 2013, only 29.2 percent of faculty members were female and 7.2 percent were underrepresented minorities, according to the report. These numbers represent an increase from 2010, when only 26.7 percent of faculty were women and 6.3 percent were underrepresented minorities.

President Skorton wrote in the report that although these increases show “progress,” Cornell “must continue our efforts” to diversify faculty.

In addition to successful initiatives in the School of Veterinary Medicine and the engineering college, Levitte said the College of Arts and Sciences’ diversity faculty recruitment initiative can set a positive example for other undergraduate colleges.

Though the arts college does not have an accountability structure, the college does have two faculty diversity hiring initiatives, according to Levitte. These initiatives include “reserving faculty-renewal bridge funds to allow for extra hiring for opportunities that appear in regular searches,” as well as reservation of up to 10 positions for “target of opportunity hires” outside of regular searches, Levitte said.

She added that the arts college’s recruitment initiative is part of the college’s participation in Toward New Destinations — a University-wide institutional framework established in 2012 that requires all colleges and administration to annually identify specific diversity initiatives.

Levitte said that the three colleges’ efforts can be instructive in adopting accountability oversight measures across the University.

“We believe that these colleges’ practices are examples of best practices in hiring and asked all colleges to adopt a form of these hiring practices,” Levitte said.