University of Oregon

Best Practices in Faculty Hiring

Over the past two decades, institutions of higher education across the United States have been engaged in efforts to increase faculty diversity.  In spite of these efforts, progress in this area has been slow (Education Advisory Board, 2008; Minorities in Higher Education, 2010).

“In 2007, men continued to outnumber women by large numbers among full and associate professors, and whites substantially outnumbered minorities in all [full-time faculty] positions”

(Minorities in Higher Education, 2010).

The University of Oregon has made progress in the representation of women and people of color among tenure-track faculty, with the representation increasing between 1994 and 2009 from 28.71% to 37.40% for women, and from 8.09% to 16.95% for people of color.

Despite those gains, women and people of color are represented in a number of tenure-related job groups at levels below what we would expect based on availability statistics (primarily PhD or other terminal degree recipient data).  In all likelihood, those disparities will become more pronounced as availability is updated this year.

While the issue is more pronounced in some disciplines than others, few units have achieved parity with availability statistics across all underrepresented groups.

Research suggests:

Pipeline issues are real. “Significant pipeline disparities by race/ethnicity and gender become evident at the level of doctoral degree attainment” and therefore directly impact the size of the population of women scholars and scholars of color from which to recruit.

“Examination of the faculty pipeline suggests that gaps are small in pipeline stages where universities have the most control and larger earlier on.”

However, despite the slow progress in the sector generally, there are universities in every category that have created faculties far more diverse than those of their peers, often after starting with faculty diversity levels well below average.”

(Education Advisory Board, 2008)

Academic Affairs has developed focused initiatives, this faculty search resource being one of them, aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the University’s efforts to diversify tenure-related faculty.  The goals of these efforts are as follows:

  • The UO will enhance the diversity of our faculty to align with the changing face of America and to reflect our global position.
  • The UO will refine its appointment policies, processes and procedures to overcome existing institutional barriers to diversifying our faculty.
  • The UO will challenge its own conventional practices and implicit assumptions about faculty recruitment to ensure conscious and deliberate considerations of diversity-related issues.

This online resource describes the findings from the scholarly research and best practices from our peer institutions, as they relate to the tenure track faculty search process in general, and to diversifying faculty in particular.

Use of the term “Underrepresented Faculty”

The term “underrepresented faculty” is used in this resource.  The term is deliberately expansive, and includes women and racial/ethnic minority groups that have been historically underrepresented in academia.  Federal law defines historically underrepresented minority groups as Blacks/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaskan Native.

Use of the term “Recommended Practices”

The term “recommended practices” is used throughout this resource.  Information identified as such is based on a variety of sources including the following:

  • Findings from empirical research
  • Conceptual and theoretical frameworks that are widely accepted and assumed to contribute to the current thinking related to effective faculty search practices and strategies to diversify and retain underrepresented faculty
  • Descriptions of promising practices from peer institutions
  • Identification of best practices based on empirical evidence and/or comprehensive reviews

The University will not sacrifice quality for diversity because diversity is an important component of quality and the aspiration to enhance quality is at the heart of our University mission statement itself. (UO Diversity Plan, 2006).

Sources:

Dettmar, D. (2004). What we waste when faculty hiring goes wrong. Chronicle of Higher Education.

Education Advisory Board (2008).  Breakthrough advances in faculty diversity: Lessons and innovative practices from the frontier.

Ryu, Mikyung. (2010). Minorities in higher education: Twenty-fourth status Report.  American Council on Education. If you are interested in receiving a pdf copy of this ACE report, please contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity at 541-346-3175.

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