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POLICY FOCUSES ON INCREASING
FACULTY DIVERSITY

By Selena Stevens

 

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"This is just one element in an overall strategy to improve our success in this area. We have a long way to go, but this will help us move closer to our goals."

-- Acting Provost Mike Nietzel

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May 30, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- A new policy developed by the University of Kentucky provost is aimed at increasing the university's number of minority faculty.

Acting Provost Mike Nietzel, who presented the plan and discussed its implication at a recent meeting of the President's Commission on Diversity, said the Faculty Hiring Support Program reaffirms the university's commitment to a diverse faculty and outlines goals and implementation strategies to support that diversification.

Because of historical factors and institutional goals, the program focuses on African-American faculty.

"This is just one element in an overall strategy to improve our success in this area," Nietzel said. "We have a long way to go, but this will help us move closer to our goals."

The program charges deans and chairpersons with assuring that candidate pools are diverse and reporting each pool's composition to the provost prior to hiring offers.

With the provost's recommendation, the president will provide incentive funding to support the hiring of African-American faculty into full-time, tenure-track positions. The funding can equal the first-year salary and benefits or a portion of the salary for up to three years. In cases involving a full-time, senior-level, tenure-track position, 150 percent of the first-year salary will be provided to the unit.

In 2001, African-American, tenure-track faculty hires accounted for 3 percent of all hires, equal to that of UK's top-20 benchmarks for the same year. To date, African-American faculty hiring for 2002-2003 has been 11 percent, and 14 percent of pending offers have been made to minorities.

"This program offers a strong incentive to recruit new faculty and to enhance the university's commitment to a diverse education and society," he said.

Nietzel said retention is a related, but separate, issue with which he is concerned. While the university can control some factors related to retention, the most commonly cited ones - family concerns and geographical location - are harder to influence.

Some ideas being contemplated to combat retention problems include mentoring programs and provision of competitive compensation packages.

The policy came in response to recommendations to the president and provost from the President's Commission on Diversity.


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