Affirmative Action

Appendix A. Retaining Women and Minority Faculty - Affirmative Action Handbook

An administrative unit expends considerable effort to secure an open position for hiring a new faculty member and to recruit a high quality person to fill that open position. Hiring a new faculty member who fails to succeed at MSU can be very costly.

Achieving tenure at a competitive university like MSU requires an excellent effort. A new faculty member is more likely to attain tenure if she/he receives guidance from the unit administrator and a senior faculty member during the early years at MSU.

It little profits an institution to recruit women and minorities and then fail to retain them. Furthermore, there is an ethical responsibility on the part of the institution to recognize the unique problems faced by the individuals it recruits and to strive to overcome those difficulties.

Since women and minorities in some units and colleges do not share in the informal professional network enjoyed by majority men, efforts should be taken to mentor or at least advise women and minorities soon after they arrive about issues they will confront at Michigan State and in the development of their professional careers. The requirements and time frame, for instance, for tenure and promotion, the types of evidence and records that should be collected and retained for tenure and promotion, the need to document teaching effectiveness, the importance of research in the tenure and promotion process, the requirements for merit pay increases, the role of the annual review--to name only a very few-are among the topics that should be explained by the unit administrator. Given the fact that community service demands are frequently heavy for women and minorities, the recently hired individual should be told by the unit administrator, both verbally and in writing, if this type of activity will be rewarded through merit pay increases and recognized as a significant element in tenure and promotion review. A unit administrator may also wish to share with women and minority colleagues the curricula vitae of recent successful candidates for tenure and promotion.

Counseling sessions of this nature are too important to be confined to an orientation meeting. Unit administrators may wish to consider holding such meetings with new colleagues on an ongoing basis to discuss issues of timely importance--e.g., satisfaction with one's teaching assignments, types of journals and presses to which one should consider submitting manuscripts, and plans for release time.

The "Survive and Thrive in the MSU Academic Personnel System" workshop is offered each year during the Fall semester. This program emphasizes how to progress in the tenure system and is intended for all probationary tenure system faculty. The topics include:

Experienced members of the faculty, including women and/or minority professors already in the unit, should be encouraged to function as unofficial mentors for newly hired women and minorities. Serving as a mentor should be recognized as an important activity and a faculty member should be rewarded for it. As mentors, senior professors may provide guidance for their teaching by examining the syllabi, teaching materials, and examinations, as well as by visiting their classes. Mentors may also provide an evaluation of their research when it is in an early state of development, offer suggestions for future scholarly activities and research planning, counsel one on participation in professional organizations and conferences, and offer advice on the pursuit of University and external funding for research. The mentor may wish to include the new faculty member in an ongoing research project or as a co-principal investigator for a research proposal. In addition, colleagues can discuss with new faculty the unique demands on their time which they will confront in their unit and in the East Lansing community and how to balance those demands with their teaching, research and service responsibilities. While these activities are desirable for all new faculty, they are especially helpful to women and minorities.

Ideally, mentoring and counseling should be initiated by the senior faculty member. Women and minority faculty members are reluctant to ask a senior colleague to give professional advice or to review manuscripts. They believe that such requests would be seen by colleagues as an imposition and an infringement on their time or as a sign of weakness on the part of the new faculty member.

In addition to drawing women and minorities into the professional life of the unit, senior professors may be able to reduce the sense of social isolation often experienced by new faculty. Inviting new colleagues to lunch or to social functions will help them feel that they are fully involved in the life of the academic community.

Although time is a commodity in precious short supply for most faculty, women and minorities often have special demands made upon their time. They frequently find themselves, especially in units and colleges in which they are not well represented, with large numbers of advisees at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, numerous requests for service from the community, and myriad invitations to serve on unit, college and University committees. Women and minorities are more likely to be assigned heavier committee and student advising responsibilities than their Caucasian men counterparts. A unit administrator can be of great influence in alleviating this problem by consulting on a regular basis with women and minorities to assess the demands being made on them and by being mindful of those demands when determining teaching loads and academic advising and committee assignments. If a faculty member has several opportunities for committee service, the unit administrator can help set priorities for deciding which committee is important to join. The unit administrator may wish to protect the faculty member by helping her/him avoid serving on a low priority committee.

It is difficult for a woman or a minority member of the faculty to refuse the demands for service from the University and the community or to turn away students who are at their office door looking for an adviser, especially when those students are experiencing the same obstacles and frustrations that the faculty member felt at an earlier stage in his or her career. Often it is one's research efforts that get short shrift. While the role of scholarship and the standards by which it is evaluated must be the same for all faculty, attention should be given to providing sufficient time for women and minorities who have heavy advising and service commitments to pursue their research activities. A faculty member who has a heavy service and advising assignment can be compensated with a lighter teaching assignment to allow time for research.

One of the most valuable tools for encouraging scholarship, especially among junior faculty, is to free such individuals from the daily responsibilities of teaching, advising, and service for one semester and to allow them to pursue their research in an uninterrupted fashion and at full pay. Several colleges provide funds through the academic unit for one semester of release time from teaching and other duties for all probationary faculty prior to the end of their first probationary period. In addition, some colleges provide a summer stipend for tenure system faculty during their probationary period to allow them to pursue their research interests either on or off campus.

The All-University Research Initiation Grants (AURIG) are available on a competitive basis to all faculty. AURIG is administered by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies (355-2186). The maximum level of funding is $10,000 and AURIG can be used by a new faculty member to initiate a research project which has potential for future extramural funding.

Some colleges have limited funds available on a competitive basis to assist faculty members with international travel for several purposes (e.g., participation in international conferences or lecturing at universities and institutes). Several funding agencies such as NATO, NSF, and NIH provide competitive funds for international travel. The Special Foreign Travel Fund (SFTF) is administered by the Dean of International Studies and Programs (355-2350). SFTF is a matching fund which can supplement unit or college international travel funds as a last resort.

An important function of the Affirmative Action Program at Michigan State University is to provide faculty diversification within each unit. Giving all faculty members of a unit identical job assignments helps defeat the goal of faculty diversification. It is expected that assigned responsibilities will vary from person to person in relation to percentage effort for teaching, research and public service. Faculty members should be evaluated on how well they accomplish their assigned responsibilities.

In evaluating scholarship the same high standards must be applied to all faculty, regardless of their gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, age, physical condition, etc. The scholarship of those from diverse backgrounds, however, may be in areas unfamiliar to the majority of the faculty in a unit. In such cases,care should be taken to solicit evaluations from individuals, both internal and external, who have expertise in a particular specialty. Elitist attitudes which tend to diminish the significance of scholarship in Black studies, ethnic studies, or women's studies should be assiduously avoided.

There are several activities which units and colleges may wish to add to their current efforts for the retention and development of women and minorities.

  1. Colleges may, on a partnership basis, seek funding when necessary and appropriate for proposals to improve retention of underrepresented group faculty members. Faculty mentoring and sponsorship initiatives, research leaves and facilitation, well-developed tenure system appointment extension programs, and other creative means to ensure retention will be encouraged.
  2. The colleges, in partnership with the Office of the Provost, will continue intensified efforts to retain current underrepresented group faculty in the face of external recruiting efforts by peer institutions. Deans, chairpersons, and directors should be alert to external recruiting efforts and should draw the attention of the Provost to cases where the Office of the Provost might intervene.
  3. The Office of the Provost will actively encourage the nomination of outstanding senior underrepresented group faculty for University Distinguished Professorships and other special honors so that senior underrepresented group faculty receive visible recognition for their excellence. Just as in recruitment, care should be taken to ensure that complete dossiers are presented and that they are scrutinized fairly so that people with both traditional and non-traditional evidences of excellent records are given opportunities for these awards.
  4. College deans and unit administrators should examine on an annual basis the dossiers of all probationary tenure system faculty who have been rejected at the end of their probationary period. Review of such data would assist one to identify the problems in retaining women and minorities and, ultimately, serve as a basis for development of programs for untenured women and minorities.
  5. Rewarding through merit pay the work of all faculty in mentoring, advising, and recruiting students, as well as their community service, would go far in fostering salary equity and job satisfaction. Furthermore, since these activities support the general mission of the University, they should be documented, evaluated, and if appropriate, rewarded by professional advancement.
  6. Develop a college and unit reading shelf for publications concerned with women and minorities in academe to increase the faculty's understanding of affirmative action issues. Subscriptions to journals such as "On Campus with Women" (Project on the Status and Education of Women, Association of American Colleges, 1818 R Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009), "Nuestro Magazine for Latinos" (461 Park Avenue S., New York, NY 10016), "Black Issues in Higher Education" (Cox, Matthews & Associates, Inc., 4002 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030), and "Equal Opportunity in Higher Education" (Capitol Publications, Business and Education Division, 1300 N. 17th St., P. O. Box 9672, Arlington, VA 22209) will help to keep faculty informed on issues confronting women and minorities.
  7. Unit administrators and deans should work in close consort with the Office of the Provost and the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives in developing specific affirmative action goals for their units and in creating strategies for the retention and promotion of women and minorities.
  8. Deans may wish to ensure that at least one woman or minority junior faculty member is on their Advisory Committee to provide information on the concerns and needs of these groups.
  9. In addition to periodic discussions with women and minority faculty, a unit administrator or dean may want to conduct exit interviews to enhance her or his understanding of the job satisfaction, work experience, and unique problems of women and minorities.
  10. Reward faculty who develop new courses or host conferences and symposia on women and minority topics for their efforts to increase the richness of our instructional offerings and to raise the consciousness of our faculty and students.
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