The Commission approached its work in four phases.
A. Reviewing Faculty Demographic Trends
In the first phase, using data provided by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, the Commission reviewed Georgia State University faculty demographic trends over the previous four years. At a meeting on January 17, 2018, the Commissioners reviewed demographic trends for full-time and part-time faculty, and at each tenured/tenure-track faculty rank, in every college. (See Faculty Demographics Presentation in Appendix 4.)
B. Studying National Trends, Best Practices, and Innovations
In the second phase, the Commission sought to learn from national trends, best practices, and innovations. Commissioners compared the trends identified at Georgia State with demographic trends visible in the NSF’s Survey of Earned Doctorates (Appendix 5). Commissioners considered the “availability factors” for each faculty job market identified by the EEOC and discussed reports detailing issues of retention as well; studied academic papers related to efforts to increase faculty diversity and inclusion; and performed a needs assessment on the university data system for tracking new hires as well as promotion and tenure. Additionally, Commissioners debated the strengths and weaknesses associated with past and existing faculty-focused efforts at Georgia State. On June 7, 2018, four Commission members, including the Chair, participated in a day-long visit to the University of Maryland–Baltimore County, a noted innovator in faculty diversity, engagement, and inclusion. The visiting team talked with the President of UMBC and members of various teams devoted to the issues in the Commission’s charge. At UMBC, President Freeman Hrabowski shared his strategy to organize campus efforts to improve diversity and inclusion, including approaches to diversity hiring plans, job ad language, recruitment strategies, applicant tracking, graduate student pipeline initiatives, a postdoctoral fellows program, mentoring, peer affinity groups, and more. (For a list of links to exemplary programs and other resources, see Appendix 6. For a full account of the UMBC visit, see Appendix 7).
C. Conducting Focus Groups of GSU Faculty
In the third phase, the Commission hired a consultant, Damon Williams, Ph.D., of the Center for Strategic Diversity Leadership and Social Innovation, an Atlanta-based non-profit organization. Dr. Williams was contracted on behalf of the Commission to plan and conduct a series of focus groups with full-time faculty members, exploring their lived experiences, especially related to diversity and engagement at various stages of career paths at Georgia State. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness sent invitations by email to all full-time faculty at Georgia State (for the invitation, see Appendix 8). In response, 230 faculty members signed up to participate, 157 faculty members actually participated, and 9 different discussions were conducted on November 13 and 15 (Downtown campus) and November 14 (Clarkston campus), 2018. Dr. Williams and his team noted nine themes that capture the views of faculty participants, as presented further in this report with brief explanations. (For the complete focus group report, “Completing the Circle,” see Appendix 9.)
D. Drafting Recommendations
In the fourth phase, the Commission members divided into three subcommittees to draft recommendations in three general categories: recruitment, retention, and engagement. The Commission as a whole discussed the draft recommendations, merged them as appropriate, prioritized, winnowed, and revised, until reaching a consensus on the Commission’s final recommendations, as they appear in the next section of this website (“Transformative Recommendations”).