Photo by Marlayna Demond '11 for UMBC
Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC

A message from Provost Philip Rous and Tyson King-Meadows, Co-Chair, Executive Committee for the Recruitment, Retention and Advancement of Underrepresented Minority Faculty:

The story and the history of UMBC is that of a community that, through the commitment and hard work of our faculty, staff and students, has dedicated itself to creating a new model of the public research university based upon the principle of inclusive excellence. UMBC rightly has established a national reputation for the diversity of our student body and our commitment to educating and supporting students from all backgrounds. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the diversity of our faculty. While we have made significant progress we must do much better in recruiting and retaining under-represented minority faculty. There are multiple reasons for this imperative, each one of which is sufficiently compelling in its own right. UMBC must recruit and maintain a diverse and inclusive professoriate if it is to achieve its mission and enable the University, USM, and Maryland to benefit from and collaborate with the brightest minds in the world. The vibrancy of the intellectual and social life of the UMBC community is enriched when minds from diverse backgrounds live, learn, create, and engage one another in respectful and insightful ways. How we deal with the issues of diversity and inclusion today matters – not just for how we see ourselves and our community at this moment, but also for what we envision our university can become in the future. Our collective acknowledgment of this imperative is reflected in our new strategic plan which identifies diversifying our faculty as a critical step toward advancing all aspects of our mission. Put simply: UMBC cannot reach our full potential as a leading public research university without the benefit of a full range of diverse perspectives and backgrounds driving our educational mission, research, scholarship, creative activity and civic engagement. Nor can we expect to fulfill our promise and responsibility to be a university that is engaged in understanding, and finding solutions for, the most important local and global challenges we face today.

Our energies over the last five years have been directed to developing initiatives, policies and procedures which will enhance UMBC’s success at recruiting and retaining under-represented minority faculty. A description of these initiatives is provided in this document. The UMBC administration, in partnership with the Executive Committee for the Recruitment, Retention and Advancement of Underrepresented Minority Faculty, has pursued an increasingly aggressive set of campus-wide faculty diversity initiatives. The Committee, which was established in 2010, is co-chaired by the Provost and by Professor Tyson King-Meadows (Chair of the Department of Africana Studies, Associate Professor of Political Science, and Chair of the CAHSS Black Faculty Committee). We are grateful to the past and current members of the Committee for their dedication to this important work.

The Provost and the Executive Committee oversee the development, implementation and assessment/monitoring of initiatives to address issues and concerns specifically associated with the hiring, retention and advancement of minority faculty at UMBC. The Provost, the Executive Committee, and the Deans have also partnered to track changes in the diversity of the faculty on an annual basis, to refine and redouble our efforts based upon an ongoing and comprehensive assessment of outcomes. We have created several programmatic interventions to enhance the likelihood that our campus will attract, hire and retain more minority faculty. In the area of recruitment, we have instituted a rigorous faculty diversity hiring protocol designed to maximize diversity in the pool of candidates and to minimize implicit bias in the selection process. We have implemented several initiatives, including the UMBC Postdoctoral Fellows for Faculty Diversity Program, the Emerging Scholars Program, the STRIDE Committee, and a wide-range of community outreach activities. In addition to these enhanced recruitment efforts, UMBC is also committed to fostering communities of support and networks for our faculty. In this area, the Committee guides the Provost on the implementation of interventions designed to improve the campus climate and support the success of our faculty of color across all academic units. The senior administration also works closely in these efforts with the ADVANCE Executive Committee, the CAHSS Black Faculty Committee, the Latino-Hispanic Faculty Association, the LGBT Faculty/Staff Association, the CAHSS Women’s Faculty Network, and the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) group. Staffing and support for these activities are provided by the Program Coordinator for Faculty Diversity within the Office of the Provost.

We hope you will find this information and associated document to be useful as we engage in ongoing conversations about these issues. While we have come quite far, we acknowledge that we can, and must, do more to address the hiring, retention and advancement of minority faculty at UMBC. We ask you to join us in a renewed commitment to our most fundamental value of inclusion and to bring this important issue of under-representation to the forefront in our discussions of our shared principles. Your engagement is critically important to shaping our future as an inclusive scholarly community.

This statement was originally published here.