Campus News

Moving Forward Together: Recruiting and Retaining Underrepresented Minority Faculty

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 31, 2016) — As explained in a previous UKNow article, University of Kentucky administrators are working diligently to address five concerns students presented to them in a meeting last November. One of the five concerns the students expressed was the lack of African-American professors and their retention on campus.

To address this concern, there are many efforts underway regarding faculty recruitment, inclusion and retention.

For several months, Interim Vice President for Institutional Diversity Terry Allen and Senior Assistant Provost for Faculty Affairs Sonja Feist-Price have engaged in conversations with underrepresented faculty groups including African-American, Hispanic, Muslim, LGBTQ*, Asian and Native American faculty. These conversations were held to discuss the benefits and challenges of university life. Allen and Feist-Price plan to use these discussions to develop initiatives and recommendations that support efforts in hiring and retaining underrepresented minority faculty.

"An unexpected outcome of the conversations has been providing an opportunity for faculty to establish informal relationships with other colleagues with whom they may not have an opportunity to interact," Allen said.

Additionally, a number of committees and councils are assisting with appropriately addressing the needs of underrepresented faculty, such as:

  • African American Faculty Advisory Committee: Committee members established a charge and are spearheading efforts to impact faculty recruitment and retention, and identifying ways to recognize and award inclusive excellence.
  • Faculty Council on Diversity and Inclusion: Underrepresented minority faculty from throughout the campus community who assist with inclusive excellence.
  • Faculty Forward, the Committee on Faculty Success and Advancement: Includes key stakeholders involved in faculty affairs who assist with positively impacting the success and advancement of faculty constituents including underrepresented minority faculty.

Moreover, the Provost Diversity Incentive Fund for faculty has increased from $350,000 to $700,000 annually. These additional resources are being used to assist with hiring and retaining underrepresented minority faculty.

The university has begun conducting faculty exit surveys, both retroactively as well as with faculty who are currently separating from the university. This information will help to inform future initiatives and resources.

"As the number and proportion of underrepresented faculty continue to grow, all members of the university must share the responsibility for creating and maintaining a culturally competent environment that provides an equal opportunity for success," Allen said.

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