Claire Sterk

Changing culture

"Having a diverse faculty is a priority because out of diversity comes creativity, innovation, discovery, and wisdom," says Provost Claire Sterk. "As we review the current state of faculty diversity at Emory and make plans for moving forward, it's important to consider our culture and to commit to developing a diverse pipeline."

Currently, deans and faculty in each of Emory's schools and colleges are homing in on ways to demonstrate a commitment to faculty diversity. To give them additional tools to recruit with diversity in mind, the provost charged the Faculty Advisory Committee on Excellence and Diversity in 2014.

With representation from Emory College of Arts and Sciences (ECAS) and all of Emory's graduate and professional schools, the committee has examined issues related to diversity recruitment faced by universities nationwide. "We've looked at best practices at other schools, synthesized those, and translated them for Emory," says committee member Imelda Reyes from the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. The Emory guidelines, now available online, establish guiding principles to faculty recruitment in support of excellence and diversity.

"Some people think those two things -- excellence and diversity -- don't go together," says law professor Dorothy Brown, who chairs the committee. "We know that's not true. Our goal is to help search committees develop high-quality pools beyond the usual suspects, one that includes women and people of color."

One core component of best practices is unconscious associations, or bias. Through a series of workshops, a national expert in this area, Emory law professor Julie Seaman, familiarized faculty currently serving on search committees with how implicit associations may affect decision-making in faculty recruitment. As demand for the workshop training increases, the provost's office plans to train 17 additional faculty members to lead sessions on unconscious associations across the university.

Putting that training into action and in turn satisfying national affirmative action standards, Emory expects comprehensive reporting on faculty searches from initiation through hiring. This responsibility falls to the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI), led by Associate Vice Provost Lynell Cadray, as well as Assistant Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Chaneta Forts, who directly oversees data collection and analysis related to these areas. The OEI also has simplified reporting on faculty searches, for example, by establishing an electronic reporting and tracking system.

"The point of these efforts is to live up to our commitment to foster an inclusive community at Emory, whether in promoting best practices in faculty recruitment or moving the needle on our affirmative action data," says Cadray. "We must break down silos and work collaboratively with collective thoughts so that we can learn from one another. When we do that, we will know that we are seeing the culture change."