The following recommendations represent actions that, in the Commission’s judgment, must be prioritized so that Georgia State can build on its recognition as an innovator in student success to be recognized as a national leader in faculty diversity, engagement, and inclusion. These recommendations answer the call to action, create a pipeline and nurture success, and create a sustainable future for work on diversity.
Make faculty diversity and engagement a visible priority coming from the President and senior leadership, and infuse this commitment throughout the university with urgency to act and the resources to support it.
The university effort to become a national model of faculty diversity and inclusion will require visible and enduring endorsement by the president, provost, and senior leadership. The endorsement could take many forms, such as a presidential roundtable discussing the Commission as well as Georgia State’s path forward in this area; making funds available for addressing gaps in faculty diversity and university practices that promote diversity and inclusion; creating, maintaining, and broadly linking a website devoted to efforts pertinent to faculty diversity; relevant updates distributed by campus-wide e-mail from senior administrators; and attendance of senior administrators at events that celebrate diversity.
Invest resources into deepening the sense of community and engagement for all faculty, and celebrate the diversity of Georgia State’s people, programs, and campus cultures.
- On all campuses, enhance the welcoming orientation events for new faculty, enable attendance by current faculty, and focus especially on URM faculty. Address the needs and concerns of new URM faculty at orientation; provide clear and consistent information regarding institutional norms and procedures.
- Promote conversation and community among all faculty, especially those from underrepresented groups, by means of supporting the creation of affinity groups, holding periodic town hall discussions and workshops or retreats with upper administrators, and supporting interdisciplinary project-centered coalitions.
- Host regularly scheduled events with the purpose of welcoming underrepresented minority faculty into the Georgia State community and then providing “check in” sessions periodically to hear questions and concerns that faculty might have. Consider including receptions or luncheons organized around faculty career stages (e.g., workshops and receptions for junior faculty, receptions for new associate professors or retiring URM faculty) or activity-based receptions that are designed to get people to engage and get to know one another.
Create a Center for African-American and African Diaspora Scholarship and Outreach, a research and resource center for intellectual community across the university and in collaboration with Atlanta partners.
The idea for a center focused on African-American and African diasporic scholarship and outreach is built on the recognition that race continues to play a central role in the construction of American life and institutions. It leverages the location of Georgia State in downtown Atlanta, in the same neighborhoods as the Martin Luther King Center, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Carter Center, the Auburn Avenue Research Library for African American Studies, and other important markers of the struggle for civil rights. Georgia State has a unique opportunity to build linkages and networks with these local, but high-profile institutions. This center can serve as a convening point for Georgia State scholars examining the experience of African Americans in the United States and the understanding of the historic achievements and struggles of African-descended people in the U.S. and beyond. The center can offer a range of programs including seminars, lectures, podcasts, internships, local outreach, study abroad, and global collaborations. It will address issues of health and income disparities, migration and immigration, (in)equality and access, and more. This center can prove Georgia State University to be a national and international hub for interdisciplinary and innovative scholarship, teaching, and outreach in issues of race and the African Diaspora. These should be coordinated with student-led initiatives, e.g., existing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations, as well as academic departments and scholars across the university.
Implement new strategies for recruiting individuals from underrepresented minority groups to Georgia State faculty positions.
- Host an annual conference for advanced PhD students from underrepresented groups. Hosting an annual event for advanced doctoral students from around the nation is a way to begin building their awareness of and relationships with Georgia State, which may lead to future hiring opportunities. The event might be hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Students and Alumni (CASA), thereby linking the university’s long-range effort to increase the diversity of the professoriate with shorter term efforts to grow our own faculty diversity.
- Institute a two-year post-doctoral fellowship program to hire and mentor new PhDs in a pipeline to faculty positions. Create a well-designed visiting faculty or post-doctoral research/teaching fellows program as a tool to recruit and mentor future URM faculty, with the expectation that fellows may apply for subsequent tenure track positions at Georgia State. Expand the Provost’s Visiting Scholars Program to incorporate a set of competitive, two-year post-doctoral fellowships for scholars who exemplify and/or emphasize pursuits related to demographic groups that remain under-represented in academia, and who have recently completed their PhDs. Fellows will benefit from a cohort model with additional orientations, and invitations to teaching and research mentorship. Ideally, these individuals will be hired into permanent positions at Georgia State. If not, Georgia State will provide support as they seek positions elsewhere.
- Create a targeted senior faculty hiring program. Create a targeted senior faculty hiring program, with outreach in strategically significant fields, with the aim of hiring full professors whose experience and/or scholarly work focuses on under-represented demographic groups in the US. Cluster or special hiring programs could be adapted for this purpose. Target faculty for recruitment through the use of endowed chairs and ad campaigns in venues that are focused on URM faculty in particular fields of study. Such senior faculty could serve as mentors to faculty and PhD students, and would likely interact with the Center for African-American and African Diaspora Studies, providing additional intellectual rigor to the center activities.
Create best-in-class, data-informed analytics to examine and address trends, including tracking faculty hires and implementing regularly-scheduled climate surveys.
- Implement a university level applicant tracking system for faculty recruitment. Identify and use a system that provides consistent data on applicant demographics and trends consistently and across all campuses.
- Implement an enterprise software solution to track faculty career progression from the first application through retirement. Design and conduct data collection on the process and outcome at each stage of the faculty career, and house the results in the database. Aggregate data should be made available to the university community whenever feasible, while ensuring that faculty privacy and confidentiality are maintained.
- Implement regular periodic faculty climate surveys. Canvas faculty satisfaction, areas of need, and recommendations for success in recruitment, engagement, and retention, and report the results to the Steering Committee and Administrative Council at regular intervals. Areas to be addressed in the survey include but are not limited to satisfaction with faculty hiring, onboarding, engagement, retention, and efforts on diversity and inclusion.
- Track the impact of the Commission-based initiatives. Collect data at baseline and frequent intervals thereafter to assess what strategies are most effective. Enable analysis and interpretation to be undertaken by the Steering Committee (per information noted in Initiative 3).