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Sharing the Goal of Diverse Faculty

Nearly a dozen Jesuit universities are trying a new way to bring underrepresented faculty to campuses.

Santa Clara University is leading the development of a unique partnership among Jesuit universities, designed to attract and nurture future faculty members who increase the diversity of our institutions. The schools are hoping to attract top candidates from underrepresented minority groups, or others who are under-represented in certain professional tracks, to give them support and opportunities for research, teaching experience, and eventual employment at one of the Jesuit University partners.

The partnership is called the Jesuit Post Doctoral Diversity Program Consortium, and is designed to support postdoctoral fellows -- recent Ph.D.’s and MFA’s who spend two to three years after their terminal degree at one of the AJCU consortium campuses. There, they learn the ropes of academic life, with an eye toward being hired as tenure-track faculty at an AJCU or other campus. In addition to the mentoring to support teaching, scholarship and service provided at each individual campus, the Fellows will participate in joint professional development programming provided by consortium partners.

The problem for many universities that might want to bring in postdocs is that the process requires a fairly large commitment of budget and faculty resources, and often it is universities with the largest graduate programs that are the best “fit” for post doc fellowships. By joining forces in a consortium, the individual AJCU campuses can partner with each other to support professional development and provide Fellows with the opportunity to learn about multiple campuses through a common experience. This will help make the post-doc program a “win win” for both candidates and schools, said Debbie Tahmassebi, dean of Santa Clara University’s College of Arts and Sciences.  

Brett Solomon, interim vice provost, diversity and inclusion

SCU's Associate Provost  for Diversity and Inclusion Brett Solomon, is working on the novel idea with Raymond Plaza, director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion at Santa Clara University.  The consortium can ensure that the postdoc is matched with a suitable campus mentor and that they will also have a better chance for their skills to be matched with a tenure-track opening across the consortium, not just on their home campus.

A group of institutions including SCU, Regis, Seattle University, Loyola Maryland, Holy Cross, University of San Francisco, John Carroll, Canisius and others are developing standards that will help them each support a pool of post-docs that individual schools would mentor and develop, but whom any of the schools might eventually hire. The program will make the fellows stronger candidates for tenure-track positions, while also exposing them to research and teaching at a private Jesuit university.  

The program will support postdoc fellows by:

  • Providing a collective space where future faculty needs at all the schools are centralized, so diverse candidates can be invited to apply
  • Exposing them  to the advantages of working for a private, mission-driven institution
  • Matching  them with an experienced faculty mentor at one of the consortiumschools
  • Supporting their research projects and publication efforts
  • Mentoring them on practical issues like how to develop a syllabus and working with different types of students
  • Providing professional development opportunities at their home campus or those of other consortium members.
  • Connecting them with the resources they want or need on their home campus or those of the other consortium schools.
Raymond Plaza

“Our hope is to develop this framework where we can begin to collectively look ahead, forecast what our needs will be, plan our budgets for postdocs,  and find areas where consortium postdocs might align with campus needs and interests, including sabbatical coverage and developing and piloting new programs,” said Plaza. “Hopefully this will help all schools build a pipeline for a much more diverse future professoriate,” he added.

 

 

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