Policies and Practices for Recruiting and
Retaining a Diverse Faculty
The unit recognizes the need for and value of a culturally diverse and inclusive academic community and acknowledges its responsibilities to a broad range of diverse constituents. Rhode Island College's Affirmative Action Policy mandates that personnel at the College take a strong, supportive stance on affirmative action and equal employment opportunity. Details regarding the employment and selection process, transfer and promotion practices, training programs and exit interviews, as well as information on efforts to recruit within underrepresented groups, may be found at Affirmative Action Plan. The Unit recognizes the unique need for diverse faculty in the teacher preparation programs and has developed its own, even more aggressive FSEHD Diversity Plan, revised in 2007. It emphasizes the need for a focus on hiring and urges the use of a variety of strategies to recruit and retain a diverse faculty.
The College continues to post positions in a manner that provides the greatest access to the greatest number of persons. The College's Search Committee Guide for faculty hiring states that the second most important charge of a committee is to "Increase diversity among the faculty." Every position is advertized to the list of historically black and minority institutions. Every faculty search is required to submit the AFFIRMATIVE ACTION MONITORING REPORT, part 1 and part 2. All faculty are encouraged to use their social networks to recruit minority candidates. Search chairs make personal contacts with candidates who are deemed to have the appropriate qualifications. Most searches utilize relevant web sites and all open positions are posted on the College's web site. The Affirmative Action Office has completed the conversion of sending all position postings, both state and out of state, electronically. Additionally, the College has enhanced its tracking system for identifying the source of minority applicants.
Employment of minority faculty in the unit has not progressed as well its recruitment efforts. While the number of FSEHD faculty of minority background continues to be limited, the College's commitment to having a diverse faculty directly impacts students in the FSEHD.
Rhode Island College filled 41 positions in 2009-2010. Of that total, 7.3% were filled by minorities, and 68.3% were filled by women. In the Professional/Faculty category 7 of the 9 positions (77.8%) went to females and 1 (11.1%) went to minorities.
However, nearly 13% of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) are minority. This diversity positively impacts undergraduate students in FSEHD whose general education requirements as well as subject area specialties are taken with FAS faculty. This proportion is in line with the national proportion of underrepresented minorities -- defined as black, Hispanic and Native American --as represented among college and university faculty ranks in 2007. Mean variation from 2.2% in astronomy to 13.5 % in sociology were noted (Inside Higher Education, 2007).
Efforts to retain diverse faculty are supported by the College's administration and the Unit. Beginning in fall 2008, FSEHD began a faculty mentoring program that paired a new faculty member with a more seasoned faculty member to provide support during the initial years of establishing fit, teaching excellence and scholarship at Rhode Island College.
Some short term goals of the Mentoring Program include:
- Familiarization with the campus and its environment including College,Unit, department, and program information.
- Networking - introduction to colleagues and key personnel, identification of other possible mentors.
- Developing awareness - help new faculty understand policies and procedures that are relevant to the new faculty member's work. For example, grant writing, and funding opportunities; promotion and tenure including teaching, scholarship, research and service.
- Constructive criticism and encouragement, compliments on achievements.
- Helping to sort out priorities - budgeting time, balancing research, teaching, and service.
- Assistance with syllabus development.
More long term goals include:
- Developing visibility and prominence within the profession.
- Achieving career advancement.
In addition to recruitment and retention, the Unit makes a significant effort to ensure professional development aimed at building diversity competencies among faculty. The College's website prominently displays Diversity at RIC. Events that attract faculty, practitioners and the general public are offered by the Promising Practices and Dialogue of Diversity Committee who's Co-Chairs are both faculty members of the FSEHD. Teacher Candidates also attend these events which promote interaction with College, Unit and other faculty from diverse, ethnic, racial and gender groups.
Some recent examples are:
- Dialogue on Diversity – 16th Annual Spring Lecture held on March 23, 2011. The invited speaker was Tony Johnson, Director of Multicultural Affairs at Rhode Island School of Design and a visual and performing artist. His talk was entitled “Express Yo'self: The Power, Problem, and Potential of the Arts”
- Promising Practices - Thirteenth ANNUAL MULTICULTURAL CONFERENCE AND CURRICULUM RESOURCE FAIR held on NOVEMBER 6, 2010. Promising Practices plays a key role in defining multicultural and diverse education in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The 2010 Conference featured Dennis Shirley, author of THE MINDFUL TEACHER and co-author of THE FOURTH WAY, as keynote speaker. Learn more about Dr. Shirley by visiting his website: www.dennisshirley.com/. The conference included over 20 workshops and a curriculum resource fair offering a wide variety of resources for educators serving an increasingly diverse student population: race, ethnicity, language, class, gender and ability. The audience included current K-12 educators in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Rhode Island College faculty from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Feinstein School of Education, and undergraduate and graduate students who are content area specialists or teachers in training.
- Diversity Week - is held the first week of October, Diversity Week consists of a series of lectures, workshops, a student symposium, videos; fine art exhibits and coordinated classroom activities. The week also includes celebrations of music and dance. The purpose of this week is to provide shared learning opportunities designed to increase awareness, acquire knowledge, and develop competencies that will strengthen our campus community, broaden our understanding of diversity, and promote mutual respect and multicultural sensitivity. By diversity we mean to be inclusive of cultural, ethnic, and racial identity; national origin; language; gender; sexual and affectional identity; age; disability; religion; socio-economic status; and other group distinctions.