Purpose of The Faculty Hiring Toolkit
The OFA Faculty Hiring Toolkit supports faculty searches at Montclair State University, providing Montclair State-specific information, a distillation of best practices, and materials for you to adopt and adapt. In keeping with Strategic Plan 2025 — Project Soar, the University’s strategic plan, this toolkit emphasizes strategies for diversifying the faculty. Having a diverse faculty is requisite but not sufficient to enact the values of equity and inclusion in our teaching, research, and campus practices.
The Faculty Hiring Toolkit supplements the direct support for faculty hiring that is provided by Deans and their staff.
As we develop this resource, we will be looking for feedback from faculty and chairs. Please send that feedback directly to Emily Isaacs.
The University Strategic Plan, PROJECT SOAR, focuses on student success by innovating the university based on three pillars:
- fostering student transformation
- growing through diversity and access
- discovery and application of knowledge
Keeping these strategic initiatives at top of mind as department search committees work through the hiring process will enable us to collectively achieve our goals.
To accomplish these broad ideals, we use data to recognize the university as it exists today and plan for the university of tomorrow. One data point that we highlight here is our student and faculty demographics.
The university today is diverse in terms of its students, and much less so in terms of its faculty. Currently, faculty diversity at MSU mirrors national averages. A more diverse faculty who are enhancing the research footprint and leading successful students who retain a life-long connection to the University. In the next several sections are details of faculty and student demographics.
Montclair State’s strategy for recruiting excellent and diverse faculty
Recruitment — and retention — of excellent and diverse faculty is and must be a university-wide endeavor that begins within departments and is supported by the college and schools as well as the provost and president. Search committees and especially department chairs and directors are on the ground, aware of faculty needs and concerns in their units and within their disciplines. They, therefore, have the responsibility and obligation to go directly to their deans to communicate opportunities and concerns so that the dean can provide counsel and support. In addition, search committees should be aware of the Special Faculty Recruitment Initiative, developed in 2010.
Special faculty recruitment initiative: Opportunity for 2nd hire
The Special Faculty Recruitment Initiative underscores that “One aspect of the excellence of our faculty rests in its diversity, bringing to our academic programs a richness of perspective and breadth and depth of intellectual inquiry and cultural background.” To energize departments’ efforts to recruit a diverse and excellent faculty, President Cole announced the Special Faculty Recruitment Initiative. The Initiative directs departments as follows:
- Make every effort to gather a rich and diverse pool of candidates
- When a search yields more than one exceptional candidate, the department can work with the dean to approach the provost for authorization to fill a second position, if
- at least one of the two persons recommended is a person of diversity, according to federal guidelines: African-American, Asian or Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Hispanic or Latino/a (any race)
- the department is able to demonstrate that the additional candidate is exceptionally strong in an area of specialization that represents a priority need for the department.
- the department is able to demonstrate student demand for the additional candidate’s area of expertise
The Special Faculty Recruitment Initiative should be read by every person on every search committee and consulted if and when an opportunity arises.
Montclair State University has evolved: Do you know how?
Search committees and chairs/directors need to have a very good understanding of Montclair State University today, be able to answer a wide range of candidate questions and offer information that will help to engage excellent faculty who can contribute meaningfully to the University’s mission. Often when people have worked at MSU for a long time they become very well informed about a narrow window of the University, while remaining relatively uninformed of changes in the University at large. Maintain appropriate expertise on MSU by reviewing the following resources.
Montclair State University’s website
- montclair.edu homepage
- Check the web page’s major stories when you are engaging with job candidates.
- About Montclair
- Right off the home page, “About Montclair” presents top-line information about our major achievements.
- Office of the President
- See recent speeches, the University’s mission statement, and our strategic plan.
- College/School Web Pages and department pages
- Review these as well, as your candidates are very likely to do so. What story do they tell?
External views of Montclair
It is valuable for search committees to be familiar with the search engine-driven view of MSU, not because this is the best view (it isn’t), but because it’s the view that candidates are most likely to come across. Search committees’ knowledge of the relative value of these sources (for example, US News’ rankings have been pretty thoroughly critiqued by scholars) will no doubt allow for good conversations with candidates.
- College Navigator
- National Center for Educational Statistics
- A popular college review website, Niche provides reviews from students, and comes up high on a basic internet search
- U.S. News & World Reports, Rankings (2021)
- #176 in National Universities (only entered national rankings recently)
- #128 in Best Colleges for Veterans
- #20 in Top Performers on Social Mobility
- #87 in Top Public Schools
Institutional Research: Facts & figures
- Annual Institutional Profile
- A state-mandated report, this 30+ page document covers MSU’s student characteristics and outcomes, faculty characteristics, the university’s profile, infrastructure improvements, research, and public service activities.
The Office of Institutional Research website provides a great deal of information about MSU students: who they are, where they’re from, what they think about MSU, and how well they fare in terms of retention and graduation. It is fairly exhaustive, and a useful site for the curious. A few highlights to review are below.
Under IR’s Quick Facts you can find the Headcount Enrollment report, which provides demographic data down to college/school as well as department, in addition to the university data provided in the charts below. It also shows 10 years of enrollment trends, numbers of degrees awarded by program in the previous year, and admissions’ acceptance rates.
These pie charts represent demographic information about students as of Fall 2021.
Undergraduate retention & graduation statistics
With increasing public discussion of college success, some candidates will be interested in these statistics. Briefly, for undergraduates, MSU’s six-year graduation rate is currently 67.3% (2015 incoming class). Female students graduate at somewhat higher rates than male students, and there are, in comparison to our peers, relatively few differences in graduation rates by students belonging to different racial or ethnic groups. As a point of pride, students in the EOF (Economic Opportunity Fund) program exceed our regular population in their most recent six-year graduation rate of 77.0%.
For those with interest in these statistics, more information is available at IR’s Retention and Graduation Reports. The reports are interactive, allowing you to drill down to college and even department, and to observe differences in graduation rates by various student characteristics.
Montclair first-year students: HS experiences, expectations, aspirations
The Freshmen Survey, conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA, is administered every three years. The survey includes questions about students’ college application experiences, reasons for attending college, how students are paying for college, high school academic experiences, self-efficacy, career plans, expectations about college. The last survey was conducted in the fall of 2019. Some highlights:
- Nearly 90% identified MSU as their first or second choice school
- Just 20% of students reported that MSU was over 50 miles away from home
- The most popular identified intended career was as an artist (15.8%), followed by business (14.3%), and education (10.3%)
The Office of Institutional Research website gathers information about faculty as well as all MSU employees. In addition to demographic data, IR presents MSU faculty survey data that is conducted by external institutions. A few highlights to review, beginning with Fall 2021 faculty demographics on the 643 full-time faculty at MSU.
More details on university demographics are found in the brief report, MSU Faculty Characteristics 2021, which includes specific faculty demographic information related to colleges and schools over the last ten years, and for 2021, in comparison to student populations.
Montclair faculty survey data
- Ruffalo Noel Levitz Institutional Priorities Survey
- An assessment of the priorities of campus administrators, staff, and faculty with their perceptions of the student experience. The most recent survey was conducted in May 2019. Sample size: 604.
- The HERI Faculty Survey
- Conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, this report on a faculty survey reports on faculty’s engagement in teaching, research and service, levels of stress, and their satisfaction with the institution.
For more survey information, see Institutional Research.
Faculty involved in search committees frequently ask about the diversity of the pipeline, and how Montclair State University’s faculty demographics compare with other universities and colleges. The first imperative, following the Strategic Plan, is to resist focusing on the pipeline or comparisons; MSU has a richly diverse student population and is located in a vibrant, welcoming community, so creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive university faculty is an attainable goal.
In recognition, however, of the frequency of these questions, a few data points have been provided below. Top-level: Faculty diversity at Montclair State University is in keeping with national trends. On a practical, action-oriented level, most useful would be to understand the demographic trends in your discipline, likely investigated and reported on by disciplinary associations and consortia of graduate education. As faculty consider priorities for faculty hiring, becoming aware of and considering the specializations that are most welcoming to diverse graduate students will be helpful to further the University’s goal of further diversifying the faculty, and through that effort, creating an inclusive educational environment for faculty and students alike.
From the National Center for Education Statistics, is the following statistical summary of U.S. college and university faculty diversity as of Fall 2016. For more information, see NCES FAST FACTS.
Two quick charts pulled from this data:
- For a detailed view of the numeric data, visit our quick figures sheet.
- For information regarding the demographics of the pipeline, see NCES Digest of Educational Statistics. Here is a link to Table 324.20 Doctor’s Degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and sex of student.
- For a broader understanding of the pipeline, a good article is “Do Organizational Structures and Strategies Increase Faculty Diversity” by William Tierney. Tierney provides more data on the pipeline as well as guidance on the strategies employed at universities with strong track records on diversity and inclusion.
- Department chair/director works with Search Committee chair to define tasks, set calendar, and provide leadership that will ensure a fair and excellent process.
- Search chairs have leadership responsibilities that include facilitating and ensuring professionalism, best outreach, and practices that deliberately counter-act habits of bias and reproduction of the status quo. Search committee chairs will find the University of Washington ADVANCE Center video below especially useful.
- Committees need to be diverse, with many individuals able to speak to diversity and inclusion goals and strategies (avoid tokenism — running an inclusive search is a collective responsibility).
- Consider inviting external faculty or staff to contribute to search committee to support diversity if the department is not diverse.
- Engage entire department faculty — not in search committee deliberations, but in recruiting a broad and diverse candidate pool, and then in wooing on-campus candidates.
- Create an engaging experience for on-site applicants so that every applicant will not only meet with department and search committee, but also meet with others similar in research area or methodologies, gender, race, or origin.
- Allow others in the department not involved in the committee process to review plans to identify missing elements.
- Share burden of service; faculty from underrepresented populations frequently are overburdened by service, as are women (See “Stressing Out” and “The Ivory Ceiling of Service Work”).
Bias and Anti-Bias Training
Biases will creep into a selection process in many ways. Biases can be controlled and minimized by using standardized approaches to hiring and selection. Standardization, rubrics, clear guidelines, and in-person meetings to resolve differences will strengthen searches. Some biases are more difficult to see, and more difficult to correct, but asking committee members to discuss bias enables committees to work collaboratively to address hidden and implicit biases.
Most experts in equity and diversity advocate the committees set about a course of anti-bias training, despite research in social psychology that suggests that these trainings reveal biases but do not serve to lessen their effects. Faculty can complete the online training on their own, and then meet to discuss the experience, thus raising awareness of potential pitfalls to avoid. (Ideally, departments engage in anti-bias activities and conversations about bias as part of their professional development and renewal, not just as part of the search exercise.)
Potential sources for such training include:
- University of Washington ADVANCE Center video, “Interrupting Bias in the Faculty Search Process.” Video displays conflict in a search committee, with suggestions for how the search committee chair can best respond. This video demonstrates how easily faculty can slip into practices that unintentionally move committees to reproduce existing structures.
- UCLA Implicit Bias Video Series. A range of videos for the general public and employees.
- The Implicit Bias Module Series out of the Kirwain Institute at The Ohio State U. — a series of professional videos in four modules that include concluding quizzes.
- Project Implicit at Harvard University. Ask committee members to complete three of the Implicit Bias tests (IAT). Completing an implicit bias test only takes 5-10 minutes and can be an eye opening experience. Meet as a committee to discuss.
- Confirmation bias – Unconscious Bias Video Tutorial. This 30-minute video on unconscious bias, aimed at a business population, teaches the basics of unconscious bias, defines several ways that bias occurs, and makes recommendations for how to minimize bias.
Be Nimble, be quick, be prepared
In advance, develop a clear search plan that includes:
- Process for selecting search committee members (see Montclair State University Policy on Search Committees)
- composition: reflective of the University’s diverse population
- Process for decision making (vote, consensus)
- Committee member roles: for example, select individuals to manage administrative tasks, ensure attention to diversity, provide information about the University & department, etc.
- Decisions about what documents to request, and when; these include:
- CV & Letter — initial request
- Request for statements on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Contributions (see samples)
- Evidence of Teaching Excellence
- Letters of reference (requesting these later in the process saves candidates expenses, and it also helps to avoid bias, which research suggests is common for both letter writers and letters readers; see Inside Higher Ed research summary.)
- Recruitment strategy aimed for an excellent & diverse pool
- completion of HR Recruitment Plan; see also Recruitment Strategies.
- Interview questions: 1st and second round question sets (see Sample Search Committee Interview Questions (DOC).
- Rubric for screening, including decisions about priorities and strategies for maintaining balance among priorities. (see a sample rubric you can copy and adapt, MSU Faculty Search Cttee Rubric.
- On-Campus Plan, including list of individuals on campus who candidates should be able to meet for successful recruitment. See On-Campus Visit.
Set-Up Timeline with Specific Dates for:
- Finalizing search committee composition
- Initial Search Committee meeting to establish process, meet with HR representative (required; solicit through email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Ad Submission(s). Montclair State University posts in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education and The Hispanic Outlook, and HigherEdjobs.com. For additional suggestions, see HR Suggested Advertising Venues.
- Recruitment emails (faculty written emails to curated list of potential recruits, graduate program directors, post-doc directors)
- Application Review Strategy meeting to finalize approach for application review, with an emphasis on creating a process that ensures attention to all requirements and preferred attributes. It is best to develop rubrics and clarify priorities in advance of reading applications.
- Short-list determination meeting to select Zoom/short-list interviewees.
- Short-list interviews
- On-campus determination meeting to determine candidate list for on-campus interviews, and to finalize process
- On-campus interview days
- Finalist decision meeting to put together ranked list
- Sending ranked list of candidates to Dean
- Completing post-hire processes (check with Dean’s Office and HR representative).
Job ads recruit candidates
Be strategic in selecting a subfield
- There are many factors to consider in selecting a subfield, including areas where gaps in expertise exist within the department, the development of new specializations in the field, and student interest. In addition, department faculty are encouraged to consider the existing department’s ethnic, racial, and gender composition.
- If prioritizing faculty diversity in the department is important, become familiar with what specializations and subfields are most attractive to minoritized graduate students. How do you know?
- Your dean can provide specific information about the demographics of your department, and you can review Faculty Information for current and historical information about your college or school.
- To understand diversity in your field more broadly, consult with disciplinary associations which typically report on gender, ethnicity, and racial diversity of graduates. More broadly, the National Center for Educational Statistics provides information on PhDs conferred, also found on the Faculty Information page.
- Be wary of more than one subfield or other requirements, and be especially wary of the X and Y approach subfield approach as a compromise among two different priorities, as the result will be a small pool
Create an ad that speaks to the people you wish to attract
- Define academic specialization with care, aiming to be as broad as possible; detailing many specific requirements narrows the pool and excludes people
- For example, research has shown that language like “dominant,” “competitive,” and “leader,” reduce the number of women applicants.
- Describe Montclair and the department so as to highlight attractive features to excellent, desired candidates. Many highlight Montclair’s diverse and engaged student population and its historic and ongoing commitment to teaching as well as the University’s growth in research engagement and success. Review the facts about Montclair today. Describe positive, supportive aspects of the department: what is wonderful and perhaps unique about the department?
- Highlight opportunities for interdisciplinary work, collaboration, and community engagement, as well as New Jersey’s inclusive family policies. These attributes are found to be important to many under-represented communities and women.
- Specify the importance of teaching and mentoring to signal to applicants these values, and to attract candidates who have strengths and experience in these areas.
- For the application letter, request information on the candidate’s interest in or experience with issues of diversity and inclusion as well as research promise and teaching excellence. Or, better yet, request a diversity statement.
- Analyze draft ads for inclusivity and strong interest in applications from under-represented populations: Has every opportunity for inclusion been taken? Has traditional language been retained in ways that send a negative message to some candidates? Have MSU’s values and commitments been appropriately highlighted?
Job ads: Language matters
Faculty in departments need to write their own job ads; for inspiration, please consider the sample ads below from highly competitive universities that are demonstrating a commitment to hiring faculty who are excellent across categories of research, teaching, service and are also compatible with an inclusive mission. These ads are inviting and engaging, and the authors understand that recruitment begins with the job ad itself.
Additional resources on creating job ads
- 4 elements of an inclusive job ad, EAB 07.10.2018. Takeaways include:
- Highlight cross-campus interest in collaboration, community building, and inclusive family policies
- Clarify why your department in particular seeks diverse talent
- When possible, expand the acceptable disciplinary backgrounds listed for the position
- Request information on the candidate’s interest in or experience with issues of diversity and inclusion
- The University of Maryland, Creating an Inclusive Job Description (evidence-based). Takeaways include:
- Broadly define the position to welcome women, candidates from non-traditional career paths, list qualifications as preferred rather than required if not essential.
- Ask candidates to speak diversity and inclusion so as to increase interest among women and faculty from underrepresented groups. But try to go beyond what has become the defacto minimum statement: “Candidates with a demonstrated commitment to working with women and underrepresented minority students through teaching, research, or service are especially encouraged to apply.”
- Use gender-neutral language through the description.
- Establish and maintain a department list of graduate students whose conference presentations or journal articles are impressive so a search committee can follow-up with a personalized invitation to apply when a search commences.
- Attend conference panels devoted to diversity issues that include graduate students — take notes, and email students who deliver impressive talks so that you begin to build relationships with promising scholars.
- Encourage senior faculty to reach out to young scholars they are impressed with early in their careers. A compliment from a senior colleague will be remembered.
- Encourage senior faculty to nurture relationships with senior faculty and graduate program directors at target doctoral programs for recruitment. Offer to visit graduate program to answer questions for graduate students and explain work at a R2 teaching university. Faculty at R1 universities often fail to nurture and prepare graduate students for the rewarding work of teaching at R2 schools.
Search specific recruitment
- Ask all faculty to post ads to disciplinary list-servs. Although the ad is publicly posted, listings on list-servs reinforce enthusiasm and catch those who aren’t necessarily looking. Add a personal appeal and offer to answer questions.
- Search committee members, as well as other faculty in the department, should:
- reach out to a wide range of doctoral programs that are known for their success with graduating diverse and highly qualified students
- send emails to professional contacts
- send job advertisements to doctoral programs located in HBCU’s, Womens’ Colleges and Hispanic-Serving Institutions.
- Use disciplinary organizations for recruitment
- Recruitment Resources
Note: Montclair State University posts in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education and The Hispanic Outlook, and HigherEdjobs.com. For additional suggestions, see HR Suggested Advertising Venues.
General higher education professional groups
- Diverse Issues in Higher Education
- Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education
- AWIS, the Association for Women in Science
- Black Perspective
- Diverse Issues in Higher Education
- Higher Ed Jobs Online
- Hispanic Outlook in Higher Ed
- Hispanic Today
- Historically Black Colleges and Universities
- IM Diversity
- Journal of Blacks in Higher Education
- National Minority Faculty Identification Program
- The Black Collegian Online
- University Jobs
- Women in Higher Education
Disciplinary professional groups
- American Anthropological Association
- National Association of Student Anthropologists
- American Association of Physical Anthropologists / Diversity Committee
Art and Design
- American Indian Science and Engineering Society
- American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- American Society for Microbiology
- Ecological Society of America
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in Biology
- Society for Advancement of Native Americans & Chicanos in Science
- The American Society for Cell Biology
- The GEM Consortium
- American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business
- American Marketing Association
- Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting
- Consortium for Graduate Study in Management
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in Business
- Indiana University Kelley School of Business
- National Association of Black Accountants, Inc
- National Black MBA Association
- National Economic Association
- The Ph.D. Project
- Culture Marketing Council
- American Chemical Society Committee on Minority Affairs
- American Indian Science and Engineering Society
- American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in Chemistry
- National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers
- Society for Advancement of Native Americans and Chicanos in Science
Communication and Media Arts
- Association for Women in Communications
- National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications
- New York Women in Communication
- Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
Computer Science and IT
- Black Women in Tech
- Black Data Processing Associates
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in Computer Science
- Diversity and High Tech Career Fair
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
- Society for Advancement of Native Americans and Chicanos in Science
Criminal Justice/Justice Studies
- Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences
- National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice
- National Criminal Justice Association
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in Criminal Justice
Earth and Environmental Sciences
- American Association of Geographers
- American Geophysical Union
- American Association of Petroleum Geologists
- American Meteorological Society
- American Planning Association
- American Water Works Association
- Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
- Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists
- Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
- American Water Resources Association
- Association for Women Geoscientists
- Geological Society of America
- National Association of Black Geoscientists
- National Association of Geoscience Teachers
- National Association of Environmental Professionals
- North American Association for Environmental Education
- US Green Building Council
Education (Family Science and Human Development)
- National Education Association / Hispanic
- American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education
- Latinos for Education
- Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications
- Asian American Journalists Association
- Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
- Association of LGBT Journalists
- Association of Teachers of Technical Writing
- Association for Women in Communications
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in English/Writing
- Journalism Education Association
- National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications
- National Hispanic Media Coalition
- Native American Journalists Association Job Bank
- New York Women in Communication
- National Association of Hispanic Journalists
- North American Society for the Psychology of Sports and Physical Activity — NASPSPA
- American Society of Biomechanics – ASB
- American College of Sports Medicine – ACSM — submit job ad here
- American Kinesiology Association
- Arts Council of the African Studies Association
- College Art Association
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in Arts Fields
- National Art Education Association
Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies
- American Mathematical Society
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in Mathematics
- Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics
- The Mathematical Association of America
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing
- American Nurses Association
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in Nursing/Medical Sciences
- National Association of Hispanic Nurses
- National Black Nurses Association
- Lippincott Nursing Center
Physical Education (Physical Therapy)
- American Occupational Therapy Association
- American Physical Therapy Association
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in Physical Therapy
- American Association of Physics Teachers
- American Institute of Physics
- American Physical Society
- APS Education and Outreach on Minorities
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in Physics
- National Society of Black Physicists
- Society for Advancement of Native Americans and Chicanos in Science
- American Psychological Association
- Association for Psychological Science
- Asian American Psychological Association
- Association of Black Psychologists
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in Psychology
- Society for the Teaching of Psychology
- Society of Indian Psychologists
- Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- National Latinx Psychological Association
- American Association of University Women
- American College Personnel Association
- Association on Higher Education and Disability
- National Association of Student Affairs Professionals
Theology and Religious Studies
- American Academy of Religion
- Association of Theological Schools
- HBCU’s with Advanced Degrees in Theology/Religious Studies
- Interdenominational Theological Center
World Languages and Cultures
General Recruitment Links
Requesting materials from candidates: Suggestions by stages
Decisions around what screening materials to collect are largely determined by individual departments. The suggestions made below are designed to create a large and diverse pool at the beginning and to underscore values that will support the recruitment and engagement of excellent candidates.
First screen (initial application to determine large pool)
- Application letter & CV. At this initial stage limit materials collected for the benefit of both candidate and committee. For the application letter, specify expectations of areas to address.
Second screen (to determine semi-finalists for short interviews)
- Evidence of teaching excellence (limit to a small number of pages, or a statement and one syllabus, for example, so as to not overwhelm candidates or committees)
- Research sample
- Description of contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion (see Sample Requests for Statements on Diversity Contributions
Third screen (to determine finalists for on-campus interviews)
- Reference letters. Why wait so long?
- Much evidence indicates bias in writing and reading reference letters, particularly as these letters are seldom evaluated and rated systematically by committees and decision-makers. For example, it has been found that letter writers discuss male and female candidates quite differently, emphasizing service for females, and research for males; further, reviewers, regardless of their identity, have been found to penalize female candidates who are not described as being service-oriented and having collegial, positive personal qualities (see Madera and Martin; Morgan, Elder & King).
- Sending reference letters typically requires that applicants pay a fee for each bundle sent; limiting the request to those candidates who have made a later stage reduces the economic burden on applicants and thus is a more welcoming, inclusive practice.
Screening strategies and tools
Rubrics and strategies for evaluation
- Develop rubrics with care and discussion from the committee, ensuring that it reflects job ad, avoids bias, and ensures diverse candidates are given a level playing field. Research suggests that when we stray from rubrics we run the risk of using different standards and introducing biases into the process.
- View a Sample Blank Rubric (Google sheet). You can copy the rubric and revise and use.
- Review and rate applicants individually (see google sheet above for strategy), and tabulate averages (to ensure equality among participants) but discuss together as an entire committee, ideally in person. Be prepared to have different perspectives, and to need to spend more time understanding these different perspectives.
- Be sure to include the “commensurate with experience” strategy in evaluating accomplishments. If you are hiring an assistant professor, a candidate straight out of graduate school with have fewer CV items than one who is several years out, but this candidate may be very promising. In addition, frequently graduate students of color enter the job market while still completing dissertations, and it would be counter-productive to simply count publications without considering years of experience.
- When reviewing candidates, consider whether the person would be a strong tenure candidate, add to the academic rigor of the department, and is a person you could see as contributing to the university.
Develop strategies that mitigate bias; consider:
- Blind candidate review — stripping identifying information –, which has been shown to reduce bias
- Review candidates’ dossiers in full, rather than piecemeal (e.g., just the CV)
- Follow structured interview process
- Review and discuss common bias pitfalls in advance of candidate review: consider such biases as those based on institutional prestige, personal connection or similarity, and biases embedded in the discipline itself.
- Develop interview questions in advance, and tie each interview question to one or more of the criteria.
- Include questions about commitment to diversity in all searches. For example: Tell us about your experiences supporting diversity initiatives in higher education or elsewhere.
- Avoid questions about things other than the job as these will tend to introduce biases into the discussion.
- View Sample search committee interview questions (DOC)
- Assumptions about colleges and universities you are not closely familiar with or are non-elite. Many people — particularly individuals with heavy financial and family responsibilities — are unable to make choices about graduate school enrollment solely based on prestige, and include location as part of their consideration. Similarly, people of color may favor minority serving institutions for the supportive culture provided. Consider the possibilities of an excellent candidate coming from a school that isn’t already on your personal list of top schools.
- Be wary of “fit.” Fit — that intangible sense that a candidate will work well with students, colleagues, and yourself — can be a proxy for familiarity and comfort, enabling unintended biases. Stick to the rubric and facts.
Preparation for the on-campus visit
- Create clear calendar of events, including down-time and opportunities to talk and ask questions of a variety of people.
- Include opportunity to observe and talk with students, ideally without faculty present.
- For recruitment, consider faculty and staff outside of the department for all applicants. People of similar backgrounds or with similar interests. New faculty want to know they have potential connections beyond the department. Be aware of the variety of offices at MSU that are committed to supporting new faculty, including:
- Office of Hispanic Serving Initiatives. Dr. Katia Paz Goldfarb, Assistant VP. Contact: email@example.com.
- Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
- New Faculty Program. Contact: Elizabeth Emery.
- Commission on Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Diversity. Chair: Cindy Meneghin. Vice Chair: David Keiser.
- Prepare MSU materials for the candidates – a copy of the Montclarian, Forward Thinking, a copy of the Strategic Plan, other pubs and giveaways with our brand is always a nice touch in faculty search.
- Acquaint applicants with faculty resources and websites including the faculty union website so applicants can understand the salary structures and benefits the university provides.
- In advance, ask candidates if there is any person, office, or service they would like to meet, visit, or learn more about.
- Engage all university participants in the process, and ask for feedback. View a Sample Candidate Feedback Form (PDF).
We welcome suggestions for research articles and guides to include.
Many colleges and universities have put together guides to support faculty hiring. Below are some we most admire.
- University of Wisconsin/Madison. Searching for Excellence and Diversity, 2012. Written by two professors who emphasize equity and inclusion and research-based practices, this guide is thorough, from an R1 school, and perhaps a little dated (though still used at UW/Madison).
- University of Michigan. Handbook for Faculty Searches and Hiring, 2018. Comprehensive. See particularly for guidance on appropriate and inappropriate inquiries of candidates (p. 8) and guidance for search committees (p. 15), and Candidate Evaluation Template for gathering information from colleagues off the search committee (p. 25).
- UMass Amherst Faculty Search Activities Guide. At times UMass specific, but strong on recommended ways to support diversity and inclusion priorities.
- UCLA Faculty Search Committee Resources. Comprehensive, with many templates to work from.
- 6 Steps to hire a diverse faculty and staff. EAB, May 2, 2019.
- Break down barriers to cultivate a pool of diverse applications (example: a requirement that individuals come from X, Y or Z school”
- Be consistent with hiring processes.
- Get input on job ad, interview questions, and campus visit plan from diverse stakeholders to mitigate against bias and improve opportunities for diverse candidates to succeed.
- Instilling equity and inclusion in departmental practices: Guiding faculty recruitment and retention” EAB 2017.
- “The decisions, processes, and preferences that truly impact diversity and inclusion occur at the department level — chairs, program heads, and faculty leaders must identify and remedy sources of bias within traditional recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and promotion practices.”
- “The ‘business case’ for improving diversity in higher ed,” EAB, March 25, 2019.
Research on Best Higher Education Hiring Practices
- Dadas (2013) “Reaching the profession: The locations of the rhetoric and composition job market,” CCC, 2013.
- “The phone interview’s implicit reliance on the auditory modality also surfaces issues of access. The assumption that everyone can comfortably navigate this format leads to the exclusion of some candidates.”
- “…[the video interview] rekindles long-standing concerns about a person’s candidacy being unfairly influenced by his or her appearance.”
- See also follow-up, for more ideas for better serving candidates with disabilities: “Interview practices as accessibility: The academic job market.”
- Eagan, Kevin and Jason Garvey (2015). “Stressing out: Connecting race, gender, and stress with faculty productivity,” Journal of Higher Education.
- “…the small proportions of faculty of color on college and university campuses make them more vulnerable to frequent requests for service and committee responsibilities.”
- “We found that, among faculty of color, feeling greater stress due to subtle discrimination significantly correlated with reduced research productivity.”
- Lubienski, Miller & Saclarides. (2017). Sex differences in doctoral student publication rates. Educational Researcher. 47 (1).
- Male doctoral students have been found to publish articles and submit articles for publication at a higher rate than female doctoral students. This was found to occur in both heavily male-dominated fields as well as fields not dominated by men. Studies found that childcare issues and family responsibilities were more of a hindrance to women’s performance.
- While this difference has frequently been attributed to gender bias within university programs, this effect was found to occur in both male-dominated and non male-dominated fields.
- Matthew, Patricia, ed (2016). Written/Unwritten: Diversity & the hidden truth of tenure. UNC Press
- With over 25 chapters authored by academics of color from a variety or colleges and universities and at various points in their career, Written/Unwritten gives readers insights onto the experiences of faculty of color.
- Marybeth Gasman, in her review for Women’s Review of Books writes, “Written/Unwritten is an important book. It should be read by anyone considering the professoriate, whether or not they are a person of color and no matter what their discipline, not only to gain a full understanding of faculty of color, but to understand whites’ role.”
- Milkman, Akinola & Chugh (2015). What happens before? A field experiment exploring how pay and representation differentially shape bias on the pathway into organizations. Journal of Applied Psychology. 100 (6): 1678-1712.
- large scale experimental study involving 6500 professors, 90 disciplines, and 259 institutions, professors were contacted by fictional prospective students with names that signaled gender and race, but with otherwise identical messages. Researchers found that faculty were significantly more responsive to white males requests for mentoring than to requests from all other categories of students.
- Muradoglu et al (2021). In an article highlighted in Inside HigherEd, “Women–particularly underrepresented minority women–and early career academics feel like imposters in fields that value brilliance,” researchers findings, well summarized in this title, are based on the participation of over 4,000 academics recruited from nine research-intensive universities. Authors conclude with a recommendation for field leadership (notably, not those who experience impostor feelings): “Fields that value brilliance as the key to success would be well served by reshaping their narrative on how to succeed. Focusing on the institutional and climate-related factors that are associated with impostor feelings is an important step toward improving people’s experiences in academia.”
- O’Meara, Culpepper & Templeton (2020). Nudging toward diversity: Applying behavioral design to faculty hiring. Review of Educational Research, 90 (3): 311-48.
- Hiring under-represented faculty of color has been found to be more likely when job descriptions include qualifications such as ‘experience in community outreach in multi-cultural settings,’ specification of a subdiscipline focused on diversity, highlighting of interdisciplinarity, explicit valuing of teaching and mentoring, and demonstration of attunement to the diversity climate (320-1).
- Passive outreach practices — posting on a disciplinary website — facilitate bias, whereas active recruitment strategies mitigate bias, particularly since committees often believe that there are few diverse candidates available, even without pursuing disciplinary data that investigates this belief.
- “Many institutions attempt to raise the issue of using institutional prestige as a proxy for quality by urging search committees to examine the work of the candidate” directly.
- Sensory & Dinagelo (2017). ‘We are all for diversity, but…’: How faculty hiring committees reproduce whiteness and practical suggestions for how they can change. Harvard Educational Review.
- “Despite stated commitments to diversity, predominantly White academic institutions still have not increased racial diversity among their faculty…. [Authors] analyze a typical faculty hiring scenario and identify the most common practices that block the hiring of diverse faculty and protect Whiteness and offer constructive alternative practices….”.
- Stout, R., Archie, C., Cross, D., & Carman, C. A. (2018). The relationship between faculty diversity and graduation rates in higher education. Intercultural Education 29 (3): 399-417.
- This study examines the relationship between faculty racial/ethnic diversity and graduation rates of undergraduate students, in particular those from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority populations. Using IPEDS data, the researchers calculated a Diversity Score for each institution. Findings suggest U.S. faculty diversity is lower than in the U.S. national population. Overall graduation rates for underrepresented minority students of all races/ethnicities are positively affected by increased diversity of their faculty.
- Tierney & Salee (2008). “Do organizational structures increase faculty diversity? A cultural analysis.” ACADEME.
- “Rather than a singular structural act — . a diversity office — a cultural response assumes that organizational effectiveness occurs through a myriad of actions on a daily and long-term basis. In this light, simply waiting until the labor pool increases, or arguing that a structural or strategic change is a magic bullet, is insufficient.”
- “If a department simply hires faculty to replace departing professors, the result is replication, rather than transformation.”
- Retention strategies must follow retention: “58% of new underrepresented minority faculty hires served to replace departing faculty of color… [due to] many faculty of color leav[ing[ their campuses in search of friendlier environments”
- Whitaker, Montgomery & Martinez Acosta (2015). “Retention of Underrepresented Minority Faculty: Strategic Initiatives for Institutional Value Proposition Based on Perspectives from a Range of Institutions.” Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education.
- “Academic institutions must directly address issues of micro-inequities and intrinsic biases that arise from or give rise to many of these barriers, along with the subtle messages of personalized devaluation conveyed to URM faculty in predominantly white institutions (PWIs).”
- “One of the most effective methods for promoting retention among URMs is the provision of mentoring and support systems. In fact, numerous studies have shown mentoring to be an effective way to recruit, retain and promote the advancement of faculty, and that the absence of, or inadequate, formal mentoring has disproportionately negative effects on women and faculty of color.”
- “Even when a URM individual is successfully recruited to a PWI environment, many institutions then relax efforts to recruit and retain additional URM faculty …. This person then becomes the token representative…, routinely saddled with multiple committees and URM student recruitment and mentoring assignments, none of which are adequately rewarded or become a major factor in performance or promotion and tenure evaluations.”
Articles from The Chronicle and Other Higher Education News Sources
- ‘No One Escapes Without Scars’: Being a Black Academic in America.” Chronicle Review, 18 April 2019.
- In the wake of the “Operations Varsity Blues” bribery scandal, the Chronicle published reactions to the scandal from African American graduate students, junior professors, and senior scholars who reflect on what it’s like to be an African-American academic today.
- Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education. Section of the ACE (American Council on Education) website focused on news, statistics and efforts to address equity gaps in higher education.
- Petit, Emma. “When Faculty of Color Feel Isolated, Consortia Expand Their Networks.” Chronicle of Higher Education, 22 Oct 2019.
- “Research has shown that the cards are often stacked against academics of color: They face student evaluations rife with racial bias, higher expectations of ‘invisible labor’ like diversity and inclusion work, microaggressions, and outright discrimination.”
- Describes FOCUS, a program that brings new assistant faculty of color together from several universities to provide support during the pretenure years.
- Crutchfield, Amy. “8 Ways for Search Committees to be Inclusive.” Chronicle of Higher Education, 28 March 2022.
- Inclusive hiring is one of those hot topics that everyone in higher education talks about but rarely with any specifics attached. People on search committees saythey aim to be “more inclusive” in the hiring process but don’t quite know what that means in practice, working with one another and interacting with candidates.