University Introduces New Pathways for Increasing Equity and Inclusion in Faculty Recruitment

John McCarthy
John McCarthy

UMass Amherst has introduced two new ways to increase the ranks of tenure-system faculty who will contribute to the campus goals of greater equity and inclusion.

Faculty members can now be hired as part of the Tenure-Track Pathway or the Postdoctoral Pathway Fellowship based on their life experiences and scholarship, as well as their mentoring, teaching and outreach activities.

“Both pathways are about recruitment,” says John McCarthy, acting provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We’d like to improve on our faculty diversity overall.”

Ideally, these pathways will help the institution improve its number of diverse faculty from 9 percent to 16 percent, which would mirror the underrepresented minority population in the most recent incoming class of students, McCarthy says.

Participants in either program will receive support and resources that help them succeed at the institution, including access to peer mentors, diversity resources and opportunities for connection among the broader campus.

“The goal is to support these faculty members as a cohort. We’ll bring them together on a regular basis and promote a connection,” says Anna Branch, associate chancellor for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. “Anything we can do that helps recruit diverse faculty to UMass Amherst while also retaining our current faculty is a good thing.”

The Tenure-Track Pathway allows the institution to hire faculty members who have been identified by a department or dean as someone who would be a strong addition to UMass Amherst. Nominations are considered on a rolling basis.

Thus far, seven offers have been made to a “very diverse group,” McCarthy says, and additional offers will be made until funds have been exhausted.

Through the Postdoctoral Pathway Fellowship, an individual is hired into a research position with 50 percent of the normal tenure-system faculty teaching load in the hiring department. A light teaching load will give them an opportunity to work on their publications, dissertation or other research related to their field. This can lead to a tenure-track position, including through the Tenure-Track Pathway.

“This model has been used at many research universities with great success,” says McCarthy. “Through this pathway, we hope they’ll realize UMass Amherst is a strong, supportive institution, and that they’d like to continue their career here.”

The first cohort of individuals from the postdoctoral pathway is expected to begin working at the institution in fall 2018.

“These pathways will be useful in showing that the campus is a welcome place for diverse faculty,” Branch says. “As the demographics of our students change, particularly in the coming years, making sure that we nurture the next generation of faculty is crucial.”