College of Liberal Arts

From leadership of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) emerged an exciting series of 10 initiatives to be launched this year and aggressively pursued over the next 3 years called the “10 in 3” CLA Equity Plan:

  • Implement systematic and sustained equity training and education at all levels
  • Conduct Comprehensive Equity Program Reviews
  • Create website that supports equity-minded work
  • Establish a student committee to work on diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Support and highlight work of student-centered advising staff
  • Conduct regular meetings with CLA staff from underrepresented and marginalized groups
  • Highlight and reward faculty expertise on racism, antiracism, and social justice
  • Support leadership opportunities for faculty from underrepresented and marginalized groups
  • Recruit and hire more Black faculty
  • Clarify mechanisms for bias reporting and ensure effective follow through

In this list of initiatives, you will notice a clear emphasis toward critical self-assessment and building a workforce that profits from the diversity of perspectives in our state. To do this work we have to create a community that is action-focused and responsive. A team of faculty, the Faculty Equity (FE)-Lab has been assembled from across the CLA and charged with working on action plans to address distinct points of the plan.

As a member of the FE-Lab, I have asked to focus on the issue of evaluating the Tenure and Promotion guidelines as a means to align the priorities of faculty with the priorities of the 10 in 3 plan. My proposal follows:

Diversify the professoriate by revision of recruiting, hiring and retention processes

How do we apportion our effort and assign value to the tasks we perform at work? For tenure-track faculty, the answer to that question is simple. At the time we are hired, we are locked into a contract that specified the timeline and conditions for our progression through the initial stages of our career, and the exact divisions of our efforts between Scholarship, Teaching and Service, and the metrics for success in each of those areas. The time line is 5 years, at which time we submit a dossier for evaluation over the course of our 6thyear, and at the end of that academic year, we either keep our job, or we are fired. In the Chemistry Department, success in this process means that you have become tenured and promoted to associate professor. Thus, it was the Tenure and Promotion Guidelines that were the contract that defined the how assistant professors should value tasks.

How do the Tenure and Promotion Guidelines impinge on diversifying the professoriate?

  1. The overarching idea is that education in Inclusive teaching, Asset-based educational philosophy, and Recognition of our implicit biases will make us better teachers, colleagues and citizens. Those educational opportunities must be REQUIRED for faculty to make them a priority.
  2. Participation of faculty in these educational opportunities is an excellent recruiting tool.
  3. The increased collegiality, quality of teaching and quality of the work environment will result in increased retention.

The fundamental conundrum is that STEM Departments are very expensive endeavors to operate and teaching and research efforts require significant resources from extramural sources. Faculty must be very productive researchers in terms of 1) research articles, 2) research grants for research-grade instrumentation, and 3) research grants that support their research laboratory, graduate students, travel etc, plus overhead for the department to have the financial resources to handle the extraordinary cost of its infrastructure.

How does a reward paradigm-based on entrepreneurialism REQUIRE/incentivize mindfulness to diversity, equity and inclusion?

  1. Specific DEI component in the Faculty Activity Report
  2. Summer pay for participation in and then implementation of ideas from Inclusive Teaching training programs
  3. Link TA lines for graduate students to mentoring training and inclusive teaching training-track record.

Research Area

  1. Determine the statistics in the SEC for women and URM in Chemistry T-TT positions. Now and in the past.
  2. Cluster hires-
    1. Normal track or revised T&P guidelines? Instructional? Joint appointment?
      1. Linked to residential programs?
      2. Chemistry pedagogy scholar
    2. Administrative duties for Grad/UG students
      1. Link to central administration
      2. Chemistry inclusion scholar
  3. UM Chemistry Department T&P guidelines
    1. Interesting differences between schools-strict vs wholistic annual reviews
      1. Review process itself can be “inclusive”
      2. Our department has the whole of the tenured faculty participate in the dossier review.
    2. Consider the proportion and emphasis
      1. 10:30:60 vs. 20:40:40