Diversifying Our Faculty

May 12, 2016

Provost Katie Conboy

A message from the President's Office with Provost and Senior Vice President Katie Conboy

This week Provost and Senior Vice President Katie Conboy and I respond to one of the Ten Demands that focuses on recruiting a more diverse faculty to the College. Students made the specific request that we increase the number of faculty of color at Simmons.

Progress To Date

In response to this demand, we made significant efforts this year to enrich the pools of applicants in our faculty searches. Moreover, we converted several faculty positions to tenure-track with the explicit intention of recruiting candidates of color in these roles.

Of the 11 faculty searches that took place this year, we have completed nine, and in those nine searches we have hired five new faculty of color. Two searches remain underway, with diverse finalists in both pools of candidates. There are other kinds of diversity accomplished in our hiring as well, including LGBTQ and international diversity.

While we have had very good success this year in our recruiting efforts, it will take more time to develop protocols and trainings for all faculty searches. Importantly however, we have begun to ask the right questions, such as how to structure effective search committees, how to position the job-posting advantageously, and how to use the campus visit to emphasize the kind of community we expect—and that any candidate will want to join.

The demands set out laudable goals for achieving diversity levels across all academic disciplines, but the fact is that the academic pipeline is not evenly robust in all the disciplines offered at Simmons. We may need to take advantage of opportunities in those disciplines with greater numbers of diverse candidates, and perhaps also do our part to encourage more students from diverse backgrounds to go into academia.

It will take all of us “rowing together” to advance this important work—and also to create and sustain an operational environment that truly respects the power and efficacy of a diverse workforce.