Guest Column: Supporting Diverse Faculty – Networking to Get Your Voice Heard and Achieve Your Goals
Editor's note: This guest column is part of an occasional series that explores diversity and inclusiveness at the University of Arizona.
We have made impressive gains diversifying our student body, but we have not made nearly as much progress diversifying our faculty. Research shows that faculty of color increase the success of students of color, which is important given that more than 40 percent of our incoming freshmen are students of color.
It is vital to the success of our institution, students and faculty that we not only recruit diverse faculty, but that we ensure diverse faculty feel supported and that they are treated equitably.
The University of Arizona Faculty Senate recently formed a working group to address faculty diversity and to develop new ways to recruit and retain faculty, with the aim of strengthening our collaborations with diverse students and constituencies. This effort has support from the Office for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence and the Office of the Provost. I am part of this working group, and we are using a broad conceptualization of diversity, including race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, national origin, intellectual perspective and political perspective, among other factors that contribute to diversity.
We hope to come forward with concrete proposals for action by the end of this semester, and faculty input on this initiative is vital. We do not want to presuppose what faculty want to see offered here and what their experiences have been. We are offering several avenues for faculty to get their voices heard.
University Club Happy Hour
We organized a University Club happy hour to gather faculty input on challenges we face, successes we've already had, and new ideas for supporting, recruiting and retaining diverse faculty. The happy hour will be tomorrow, 5-7 p.m., in the Vine Avenue Annex, Room 102. All faculty are welcome; wine and food will be provided. Please RSVP here if you plan to join. Members of the Diversity Coordinating Council and Vice Provost Jesús Treviño will be there to listen and learn. This event will also provide faculty an opportunity to meet others who want to learn about and contribute to diversity.
Furthermore, faculty will be invited to provide input in a brief survey sent later this semester through the Office for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence. Feedback gathered via the happy hour and the survey will be used to inform the committee's recommendations and will be shared broadly, along with the results of faculty exit surveys and a report from a focus group with faculty of color.
Diverse Faculty Career Discussions and First Friday Faculty Lunches
There are other opportunities for faculty to get their voices heard and to develop peer networks of support. These initiatives are supported by the Office for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, the Office of the Provost and the Commission on the Status of Women. For example, there are the Diverse Faculty Career Discussions and the Commission on the Status of Women’s First Friday Faculty Lunches.
In peer mentoring networks, faculty members discuss challenges, share information and brainstorm on how to best address the challenges. Research shows that peer mentoring can be just as effective as traditional senior-junior mentoring. Research also shows that mentoring increases the retention and satisfaction of faculty, particularly those from underrepresented groups. These events also simply offer opportunities to create friendships.
The next event in the Diverse Faculty Career Discussions is "Rethinking Mentoring: Building Peer Communities for Accountability and Support," which will be Feb. 22 from noon to 1 p.m. We will discuss research-based strategies for getting the most out of your mentoring relationships and how to build and sustain peer mentoring communities.
The Commission on the Status of Women's Faculty Affairs workgroup will hold its initial First Friday Faculty Lunch of the semester on Friday, between noon and 1 p.m. (RSVP is required). Lunch is provided. All faculty are welcome and should bring their business cards to facilitate networking.
We hope you take the opportunity to join us this semester to share your input and meet other faculty from across campus to help in building a network of support.
Laura Hunter is the coordinator of faculty development and associate diversity officer in the Office of the Provost.