Leverage postdoc programs to recruit diverse faculty

Today, most colleges and universities are interested in expanding the diversity of faculty on campus and creating an inclusive and welcoming environment. Some institutions have identified ways to design postdoctoral programs to recruit diverse faculty. Unfortunately, conversion from postdoctoral fellow to tenure track professor is rare as faculty are often not involved in the postdoctoral search and screening process. Moreover, future open faculty lines are not typically considered when allocating postdoctoral positions. As a result, promising candidates who are already on campus will take jobs elsewhere.

The Carolina Postdoctoral Fellowship for Faculty Diversity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Postdoctoral Fellowship for Faculty Diversity at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) recruit and develop young faculty of color. Both place postdoctoral fellows in tenure track positions more successfully than typical postdoctoral programs for two reasons. First, they align their postdoctoral searches with the future hiring needs of departments. Second, unlike most postdoctoral programs, faculty are more involved in developing the selection criteria for the fellows hired. This leaves faculty less skeptical about the qualifications of fellows as potential colleagues.

Two Models For Aligning Post-Doctoral

Consider impending retirements and desired growth

The Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) at UMBC requires each department to submit two hypothetical hiring plans for the next five years that outline their research and curricular goals and how these are related to university-level goals. In one plan the departments would keep constant their existing number of faculty, and in the other they would increase their faculty number by one. The dean then prioritizes each proposed hire (both the replacement of retiring faculty and new hires) based on transparent metrics involving research, enrollment, and retirements.

Departments must also relate their evaluation of postdoctoral applicants to these five-year strategic hiring plans so that postdoctoral appointments are aligned with university hiring intentions when possible.

Example Hiring Plan

Webconference: The right—and wrong—ways to measure the health of academic departments

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