Friday, October 21, 2016

Doing Service Work on Purpose as a Full Professor

Everyone says that when you are promoted to Full Professor, the service burden increases dramatically. Having been promoted a few months ago, I can say that my service burden increased dramatically and immediately. This is not surprising give the research that shows that women put in an average of five more hours of service than their male counterparts. I should say, however, that my service burden this year is almost entirely self-inflicted. To put it more politely, I have been proactive with regard to my service responsibilities this academic year.

I have been proactive so that I can do the sort of service work that I find meaningful. For me, that means making the place I work more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. I work at the University of California, Merced. We are relatively unusual for a high-research-activity university in that our student population is very diverse. This year, 76 percent of our incoming class are first generation college students and 55 percent are Chicano/Latino. Our next largest ethnic group is Asians, who constitute 18 percent of our incoming class. Given the demographics of our student body, faculty diversity is a priority for me.

The Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Faculty at UC Merced
Although student body is primarily Latino and Asian, our faculty members are primarily white. Half of all instructional faculty are white; 21 percent are Asian; 14 percent are Latino, 3 percent are black, and 2 percent are Native American. These numbers, notably, include all instructional faculty, many of whom are temporary. The faculty members are less diverse as we move up the prestige ladder. Whereas 44 percent of all instructional faculty are women, only 22 percent of full professors are women. Minorities constitute 43 percent of all tenure-track faculty, yet only 25 percent of full professors. Of 373 teaching faculty, in 2015, there were 4 African-American lecturers, 3 Assistant Professors, and 2 Associate Professors. We still have no African American Full Professors. In 2015, Latinos made up 12 percent of the Assistant Professors, 9 percent of the Associate Professors, and 9 percent of the Full Professors. (Looking at the data more closely, we also see that a large percentage of our Latino faculty were born and raised in South America and Spain.)

In light of the disparities between our student body and our faculty, I decided to serve as the Inaugural Chair of the Diversity and Equity Committee of the Senate last year. Although diversity, equity, and inclusion are all important, we decided to focus most of our energies on faculty diversity for the moment, as our university plans to hire over one hundred faculty members over the next four years, as part of our $1.3 billion expansion. I find all of this very exciting: the opportunity to really build something!

The Diversity and Equity Committee looked into best practices for enhancing the diversity and equity of faculty, and we learned that other University of California campuses have begun using Faculty Equity Advisors. (One of the great things about creating a campus in the UC system as there are many great examples we can draw from so we never have to reinvent the wheel.) We thus spent the year developing a proposal to institute Faculty Equity Advisors on our campus. Our proposal was approved by the Divisional Council of the Faculty Senate, and the Provost agreed to provide the funds and institute the program this Fall. Yep, that’s right, less than a year from idea to implementation – one of the very satisfying things about working on a small and growing campus.

This academic year, I agreed to serve as the Chair of the Diversity and Equity Committee again and also as one of the four campus Faculty Equity Advisors. We will be hiring nearly fifty people this year, with many of those searches happening in cluster hires. We have cluster hires in Sustainability, Inequality, Power and Social Justice, Human Health Sciences, and Adaptive and Functional Matter. These 16 positions are open rank and in almost every discipline, so if you haven't applied: what are you waiting for?

But, I digress. I was telling you about the Faculty Equity Advisor.  As Faculty Equity Advisor, my role is to:

  • Meet with Unit Chair or Dean to discuss composition of Search Committee and explain the importance of a diverse Search Committee.
  • Meet with Search Committee Chair. Discuss Search Plan, advertisement, and active recruitment strategies. Ask Search Chair to work with Search Committee to develop diversity benchmarks for candidate pool.
  • Review and approve Search Plan.
  • Meet with Search Committee to discuss implicit bias, the development of evaluation criteria, and how to evaluate the Contribution to Diversity Statement.
  • Review applicant pool to ensure applicant pool approximates availability pool in terms of diversity.
  • Review and approves finalist list.
  • Provide guidance to Search Committee with regard to on-campus candidates. Ensure candidates are connected with any relevant affinity groups on campus.

As you can see from the job description, being a Faculty Equity Advisor requires a lot of meetings. It also requires getting up to speed with the literature on best practices for faculty diversity. Luckily, there are tons of online resources. Even better, they tend to make similar recommendations.

The reports on best practices tend to recommend talking about diversity and implicit bias with Search Committees, doing broad outreach for searches, developing clear evaluation criteria, and having diversity on Search Committees. We have tried to implement these practices and I look forward to letting you know at the end of the year what works and what does not.

I also look forward to reading your feedback on our approach as well as ideas for strategies that have worked (or not) on your campus.

This is the first year of the Faculty Equity Advisor Program, and I am excited to see what the outcomes are with regard to the 50 hires we will complete this year. I will write a post and the end of the year to report on what we have learned with this effort.

And, in case you were wondering, I have still been getting my writing in, as that will always be my priority. With the increased service responsibilities and the concomitant need to be on campus more, I have been waking up at 5am every day, writing for at least one hour, going for a quick run, and then going to campus to take care of business.


  1. Congrats on your promotion. This too is my first semester as full professor (research 1). I have experienced an identity crisis as a result. My time has shifted from spending most of my time on research to now a significant portion of my time being spent on service. Thank you for reminding me to not give up on my research entirely. 1 hour each day is my goal. I am only 39 so I have at least 20 more years left.

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