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Academic Council discusses improving faculty satisfaction and diversity during final meeting of 2015-16 year

<p>The Academic Council approved a statement affirming the University's commitment to diversity at&nbsp;its final meeting of the 2015-16 academic year Thursday.&nbsp;</p>

The Academic Council approved a statement affirming the University's commitment to diversity at its final meeting of the 2015-16 academic year Thursday. 

The Academic Council approved degrees for graduation and heard updates regarding efforts to gauge faculty satisfaction and improve faculty diversity at its last meeting of the 2015-16 academic year Thursday.

Representatives from the University’s different schools presented the Council with the number of candidates eligible for graduation, after which the Council voted unanimously to recommend the graduates to the Board of Trustees. At their meeting Saturday, the Board is expected to give the final stamp of approval to the degrees prior to commencement Sunday.

During a closed executive session, the Council also met with Jack Bovender, vice chair of the Board, to discuss a search committee for President Richard Brodhead’s successor. Brodhead announced in April that he would retire at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.

The Council also heard from Emily Klein, professor of earth sciences and chair of the Implementation Committee of the Academic Council’s Diversity Task Force. The committee was charged with implementing recommendations the diversity task force made to the Council last May.

“We want to make sure there is structure within the schools that helps to advance diversity within the school level,” Klein said.

The task force recommended that the University form faculty diversity standing committees in each school, expand hiring programs and produce a statement on diversity and inclusion.

Presenting the Implementation Committee’s progress, Klein suggested the creation of a “strategic opportunity hiring program” to hire regular-rank faculty outside of the traditional search process. She noted that the program should look to hire junior and mid-career faculty, not only senior faculty.

“It is hard to compete when you only hire at the senior level,” Klein said. “This is a new target of opportunity.”

The Implementation Committee has also drafted a description for and articulated the responsibilities of the newly-created position of vice provost for faculty advancement. Provost Sally Kornbluth announced last November that the University was searching for someone to fill this position in a community forum addressing issues of diversity and inclusion on campus.

Kornbluth added that the University has four finalists for the position and hopes to make a selection soon.

Klein noted that the creation of faculty diversity standing committees is still an ongoing process, but that the Implementation Committee has suggested guidelines for their development. The Council approved a statement affirming the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus.

Kornbluth also presented an analysis of data from the 2015 faculty satisfaction survey, noting that there had not been vast changes in the survey results since its 2005 and 2010 iterations and that drawing conclusions would be difficult.

There were, however, differences between the schools that Kornbluth said could warrant further investigation. For example, faculty at the School of Medicine were among the lowest in terms of various measures of satisfaction and faculty at the Law School among the highest.

Kornbluth also noted racial and gender differences reflected in the survey, with black faculty reporting less satisfaction with the University’s commitment to diversity and equality.

“In all satisfaction items—being a faculty member, resources, salary, support for securing grants, intellectual stimulation of work and office space—Asians, Blacks and Hispanics are lower than Whites,” she said.

She also explained that in “every single measure” of departmental atmosphere, men were happier than women.

The next steps should be to share the data collected with the various schools and to identify per-school and per-demographic ways satisfaction can be improved, Kornbluth added.

In other business:

The Council approved two new graduate programs—a master’s degree in Quantitative Management and a Ph.D. program in Computational Media, Arts and Cultures. The Board of Trustees is expected to also approve the programs at its weekend meeting.

Robert Korstad, professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy and chair of the Master’s Report Implementation Committee, presented to the Council. He called for more rigorous review and screening of master’s programs to protect against programs that fail to meet their enrollment goals.

During the closed executive session, the Council also voted on honorary degrees for graduation in 2017. 


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