Incoming and current faculty members at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are now required to report their involvement in promoting diversity and inclusion, which could then affect the assignment of faculty bonuses, Dean of SEAS Francis J. Doyle III said in a February interview.
Administrators implemented the requirement this academic year in accordance with a number of other diversity initiatives. Prospective faculty members must now provide a “diversity, inclusion, and belonging statement” as a part of their application, according to Doyle.
“I have found this to be a very important thing that we want to use in our recruiting to, again, set the tone that we value this — we think it’s a priority,” Doyle said.
SEAS has also implemented a requirement that current faculty members report any efforts they are undertaking to promote diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Such efforts could range from modifying course curricula to mentoring student affinity groups. Doyle said that while he does factor other aspects of faculty members’ job performance when assigning bonuses, he considers this information a “priority” in his decision.
“This is the way, in the University setting, that I can indicate the importance of this and reward accordingly when our faculty are invested deeply in that area,” Doyle said.
The diversity statement is one of a number of new initiatives created in the wake of an April 2018 climate survey that found more than a quarter of respondents have experienced harassment or discrimination at some point during their time at SEAS. Alexis J. Stokes, director of diversity, inclusion, and belonging at SEAS, said that requiring incoming and current faculty to report their commitment to diversity serves as a consistent means of monitoring their involvement in fostering an inclusive environment.
“It’s on both ends — as you’re entering the community, and then once you are part of the community, we’re still asking you to report on the things you’re doing,” Stokes said.
Though other divisions within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences do not currently require a diversity statement, the school is currently looking to learn from SEAS’s example, according to FAS Dean Claudine Gay.
“In addition to SEAS, I know of a couple of other universities that are moving in similar directions,” Gay said. “From the perspective of the FAS, we’re looking at these experiments in the hopes of learning from them and seeing what makes sense for the FAS in terms of our own hiring practices.”
“Certainly one of the many things that we hope the faculty who come here do is find ways to advance inclusion and belonging, because as we know, that is one of the priorities for the FAS and for the University more generally,” Gay added.
Like Doyle, Gay said a number of considerations are taken into account when assigning faculty bonuses at the end of the year, and efforts to promote diversity and inclusion can intersect with each of those considerations.
“When we think about bonuses or acknowledging or rewarding faculty who have had an exceptional year, we look at the full complement of expectations we have for faculty,” Gay said. “Throughout, frankly, all those domains, we think about questions around how this person contributes to our institutional commitment to advance equity, inclusion, and belonging.”
—Staff writer Ruth A. Hailu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ruth_hailu_.
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