The University of California announced on Wednesday, Sept. 26 that it plans to pledge more than $7 million every year to expand on its existing programs to strengthen faculty diversity as well as create new programs.

In a press release, UC President Janet Napolitano stated at a UC Board of Regents meeting, “We know that students’ academic performance and career aspirations are enhanced when faculty of similar backgrounds serve as role models … Moreover, teaching, research, innovation and service thrive when all members of our community are welcomed and supported. That’s what we want at UC.”

In an interview with the Highlander, Danielle Smith, Media Communications Specialist at the University of California Office of the President (UCOP), wrote that this funding will support system-wide programs that enable UC to recruit and retain diverse faculty, like the President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, which provides financial support and career training for talented scholars who are interested in faculty careers at UC.

“Several other specific systemwide and campus initiatives are laid out in this item from last week’s Regents meeting. Such programs have shown strong results thanks to $2 million in state funding for each of the past three fiscal years,” Smith wrote. The funds allocated will support a broad range of programs that will promote faculty diversity, such as those that  strengthen the pipeline of graduate students who plan to have a career in academia.

According to the press release, in the past year, 44.1 percent of new ladder-rank hires were women and 17.1 percent were from underrepresented groups. However, the gender and racial/ethnic makeup of faculty varies by discipline. Both women and racial minorities are more represented in the non-STEM disciplines versus the STEM disciplines.

The Accountability Sub-report on Diversity: Faculty Diversity Outcomes” claims that, “recent successes in gender and racial/ethnic diversity can be attributed in part to significant UC investment in promising practices in developing the academic pipeline, and in faculty recruitment and retention, including the efforts of the Advancing Faculty Diversity grants and the President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.” However, the report states that more aggressive efforts are needed. The University, according to the report, should focus on all components of the academic pipeline: “from preparation for the professoriate, to aggressive recruitment efforts, fair and inclusive selection processes, retention and academic climate, and leadership and accountability.”

When asked what outcome she ultimately hopes this initiative has on the UC system, Smith wrote, “UC hopes to further our progress on expanding faculty diversity by supporting initiatives that address all aspects of the academic talent pipeline: preparation for future faculty, aggressive recruitment efforts, fair and inclusive selection processes, and enhanced faculty retention.”