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Program offers funding for new diverse faculty hires

In the fall of 2013, an ad hoc group headed by Hazel Morrow-Jones, director of The Women’s Place, developed a set of proposals for Provost Steinmetz on best practices for supporting diversity in hiring. The group consisted of: Valerie Lee (Office of Diversity and Inclusion), Mary Menkedick-Ionno (Office of Legal Affairs), Alexandra Schimmer (Office of Legal Affairs), Brad Harris (Office of Academic Affairs), Kim Shumate (Office of Human Resources) and Anne Nagy (Office of Human Resources).

One result of this group’s work was a pilot Special Opportunity Hire Fund (SOH). The provost allocated $1 million in cash to help cost share the salary of faculty members who would contribute to diversity and equal opportunity within the specific context of their units. This cost share was the equivalent of a year’s base salary, spread out over two or three years. Candidates could be chosen from national or targeted searches.

In applying for funding, units needed to explain how candidates contributed to the mission and diversity of their units. They also explained their plans for continued financial support of the candidates.

Between February and June of 2014, the Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) received 10 SOH requests from six colleges (arts and sciences, education and human ecology, engineering, nursing, law, and optometry). To date, the SOH has supported the hiring of six faculty members who have joined the college of arts and sciences, education and human ecology, engineering, optometry, and the Mansfield campus. Four of these faculty are women and two (both women) are full professors.

The provost has decided to continue the pilot program for the 2014-15 academic year, and the announcement, with application details, may be found on OAA's website. The program will continue to provide bridge funding, in cash, to help support the initial salary for SOH hires. Approval is not automatic and will be based on consideration of the information required in the application as well as OAA’s assessment of how best to support campus-wide diversity initiatives and needs. Note that the program is separate from OAA’s ongoing efforts to support the internationalization of our students and faculty and for this reason it is expected that candidates will contribute to domestic diversity initiatives.