Diversity of top graduate faculty, continuous improvement a priority – [email protected]

Wayne State University not only has the most diverse student body in Michigan, but according to data published by the Chronicle of Higher Education, it also has the most diverse doctoral faculty among Michigan’s public universities.

The Chronicle aggregated the race, ethnicity and gender of full-time faculty members at more than 3,300 institutions as of November 2020. Its data shows that 32.1% of Wayne State doctoral faculty are minorities , making it Michigan’s only public university over 30%.

Wayne State’s strong performance is due in part to a three-year trend of growth in black doctoral faculty, which is now at 7.9% — significantly higher than other major research universities in the state. the University of Michigan (3.3%) and Michigan State University (4.4%). Wayne State also tops the state’s R1s for percentage of female doctoral students.


“Diversity is in our DNA at Wayne State, and it’s also something we work on very intentionally,” said Mark Kornbluh, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “A diverse graduate faculty is essential if we are to have a diverse faculty in the future. All research shows that faculty diversity is an essential step towards increasing opportunities and success for diverse students in higher education. This in turn shapes the future of the faculty. We are committed to further improving our number of underrepresented faculty members.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a university-wide effort and a focal point of Wayne State’s 2022-27 strategic plan, “Our Moment in Time.” DEI’s first strategic goal is to “recruit, support, retain and empower a more diverse faculty and staff”, and the Provost’s Office has several programs and initiatives in place.

  • The new Pathway to Faculty program with the Graduate School, which will guide and prepare pre-faculty scholars for acceptance into tenure-track positions, was announced in November 2021 to diversify the faculty by granting early-career scholars protected time to advance research or creation. work that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Kornbluh has prioritized a multi-year tenure-track cluster hiring initiative spanning all 13 schools and colleges to add on-campus expertise that most affects all aspects of life, culture, health, of African American history and well-being. With support from WSU President Roy Wilson, the academic leadership is developing this program with the goal of hiring 50 new tenure-track faculty over three to five years.
  • Wayne State’s Gender Equity Advances Retention in STEM (GEARS) program, funded by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, works to create systemic change to increase equity among female faculty, by especially underrepresented minorities, in STEM disciplines. By supporting positive changes in the campus climate, the three-year award aims to retain underrepresented faculty.

The Provost’s Office also works in conjunction with the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) throughout the hiring process.

For example, the Provost’s Office required that all members of the recruitment committee receive annual training from the Office of Equal Opportunity. Since 2018, nearly 100 research committee members have been trained as part of this initiative. The training focuses on broad and diverse recruiting efforts, implicit biases, and an introduction to Ph.D. pipeline created by the Institutional Research Department. The pipeline provides search committees with information on where to find graduates across the country in specific disciplines, their graduate institutions, race and gender.

OEO reviews and approves or rejects hiring department efforts every step of the way. The composition of the hiring committee should be as diverse as possible, given the faculty available within the department, and the advertising and recruitment strategy should be approved before the faculty position can even be posted in the system. online hiring.

Once the search begins, final applicants are vetted for diversity and inclusion. If the applicants are not diverse and the department itself already lacks diversity, the associate vice president or the OPA may recommend to the provost not to approve the hire.

Lammers of Stirling

“Ultimately, we want the department to hire the most qualified person available, and the faculty hiring process ensures that the hiring process identifies qualified and underrepresented candidates for consideration,” said Amy. Stirling Lammers, Acting Associate Vice President for Equal Opportunity. “Requiring a diverse hiring committee also makes it more likely that an underrepresented candidate will be selected. There is a lot of research on implicit bias that shows people are more likely to select a candidate who is similar to them in terms of race and gender.

Other efforts are being made through the Social Justice Action Committee (SJAC), which was established by Wilson in June 2020 following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

SJAC’s Diverse Faculty Hiring and Retention Implementation Group has made 17 recommendations to ensure diversity in those who make decisions to hire and retain faculty from underrepresented groups, as well as greater accountability. They understand:

  • Require search committees to use and submit a hiring rubric as part of the OPA hiring process.
  • Require departments to provide evidence that their approved recruitment plan has been followed.
  • Encourage departments/colleges to allow for broader representation of faculty classifications on search committees to help increase committee diversity.
  • Appoint academic diversity advocates to sit on each search committee to support the hiring process.
  • Submit an annual equity and inclusion plan to the provost that reports on the college and department’s progress toward equity.
  • Seek federal funding to attract underrepresented early career faculty.
  • Identify a third-party resource to conduct exit interviews with historically underrepresented faculty who have left the university within the past five years.

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