NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Faculty Hiring: Start with Search Committee Training

Faculty hiring is among the most important opportunities that we have to impact the direction of research and teaching/training in our departments. We all know how critical it is to hire top-level faculty who we believe have the potential to be successful at UH.

Very much like most academic institutions across the U.S., our faculty diversity does not significantly mirror that of our students nor our community. This deficit in diversity makes it even more difficult to increase our diversity since faculty and students alike feel like they can succeed in a place where they see successful faculty and students who look like them. Experience and studies have shown that it takes strategic and intentional actions to hire a more diverse faculty. We cannot hire someone who has not applied, so one key is the enhancement of the size and diversity of the applicant pools.

The Empowered Search: Increasing Size and Diversity of Applicant Pools

Faculty search committee training was developed and is mandated for all committee members in order to help departments and colleges know what actions lead to increased sizes and diversity of their applicant pools. The training includes advice on advertising venues, diversity oriented wording in ads, awareness of implicit bias, that enhanced diversity does NOT equate to lowering of standards contrary to what some NSM faculty have said, and more insightful data and information.

The UH Office of Recruitment, Retention, Equity, and Diversity has developed a useful set of materials for Recruiting Powerhouse Faculty. This guide has a wealth of information and strategic advice to help empower your search. Enhancing the diversity of our faculty requires the active participation by all search committee members and by as many members of the department as possible.

A very effective way to enhance the size and diversity of applicant pools is through direct reach-out by department faculty to other institutions that are likely to have competitive candidates, particularly those that are likely to have a diverse set of potential applicants. Advertising in the research-area specific sites/lists is always critical. Additionally important is advertising in the segments of professional societies/organizations that focus on the advancement of women and underrepresented minority scientists and mathematicians.

Search Training – Even for Those with Decades of Search Committee Experience

Completion of search committee training is required of all members of the search committee within three years of the start of the search. This even applies to those faculty who have decades of search committee experience. The training is not focused on your skills to evaluate the scholarly record of the applicants. It is focused on other factors that can unconsciously have a negative impact on applicant pool sizes/diversity as well as in the selected interview pool. Members who do not complete the training will not be allowed access to the applicant materials. While there are scheduled training sessions, it is possible to arrange a special training session for a particular search if that is needed in order to meet the search timing.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Jim Briggs, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, jbriggs@uh.edu.