Town Hall seeks to improve faculty diversity

Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER
Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER

Chancellor Kim Wilcox held a town hall meeting on May 12 to continue discussions about the plan to hire 300 new faculty by 2020. UCR Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Paul D’Anieri also spoke on the importance of receiving the best hires while improving faculty diversity.

While UCR has a diverse undergraduate population, faculty diversity across the campus lags behind. According to the most recent statistic in 2011, 68.6 percent of the faculty at UCR identify as white and 68.3 percent identify as male.

D’Anieri believes the campus has an opportunity to improve diversity with the addition of 300 new members. “If we are going to hire as many people we are going to hire in the next five years … if we do not substantially diversify this faculty and if we do not in fact create the most diverse faculty of any major research university, we’ll have failed,” D’Anieri stated.

To find diverse hires, D’Anieri encouraged college deans to seek recipients of the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, which funds women and minority PhD recipients. If any of the colleges receive applicants from the program, D’Anieri promised to find ways for the university to fund them.

As of now, 128 group proposals for positions have been reviewed, and over 760 position requests have been made since December 2014. D’Anieri did not specify how many proposals were accepted, but the process will be placed on hold for the 2015-2016 school year due to the amount of time the hiring process takes.

To fund this project, Wilcox plans to increase student enrollment to 25,000 by 2020 and increase funds from outside investments. All of this is part of the UCR 2020 campus expansion plan that started in 2010. In addition to this project, D’Anieri, along with a hiring committee, will be interviewing potential deans for CHASS and CNAS in the next couple of weeks.

During public forum, Ross French, digital communications coordinator at the School of Medicine, asked, “Where does staff fit into this whole thing … given the aftermath of Janet Napolitano’s letter that there will be no increase or decrease in staffing?”

“Our aspiration is to keep staff where the numbers are at,” D’Anieri answered, adding that the plan will focus on transferring tasks such as recharge transactions — monetary transfers from one campus department or service to another — from staff to faculty to increase efficiency.

“There are things we can do in terms of process to make jobs among our staff easier and more effective,” D’Anieri concluded.

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