Advancing Academic Excellence: Accelerating Faculty Diversity Hiring Program (FDP)

The purpose of the Advancing Academic Excellence through Accelerating Faculty Diversity Hiring Program (FDP) is to provide enabling University financial support from Academic Affairs to academic colleges/schools/departments to support additional hiring of diverse full-time, tenured/tenure-track (T/TT) faculty who will advance inclusive excellence at UTSA through enhancing student success, research and academic distinction outlined in President’s Vision and Strategic Plan for UTSA.

Through the Special Opportunity Hiring mechanism, FDP provides designated funding to hire diverse faculty who are not recruited through a traditional search whose work will advance academic excellence through 1) fostering new and creative ways of involving our diverse student body in an accessible and engaged education aimed at producing highly capable graduates who will meet our state’s critical workforce needs, 2) developing new approaches to discovery and cutting-edge interdisciplinary research, scholarship and creative work that benefits our diverse communities and addresses complex global problems, and 3) expanding collaborations with community and business partnerships, including those involving traditionally underserved groups.

Rationale:

Research indicates that innovation, critical thinking, and problem-solving are greatly enhanced in a diverse and inclusive academic community that supports the participation and success of all its varied members. Advancing efforts to intentionally include those from traditionally under-utilized populations that historically are not fully represented in higher education enriches collaborations across traditional disciplinary and ideological divides, fosters inclusive, engaged modes of instruction that increase student learning, and facilitates community and business partnerships for public benefit.

UTSA’s has achieved HSI designation by the US Department of Education and is recognized as a leader among US universities in advancing high quality education outcomes for Hispanic students. UTSA’s mission, values and historic efforts to promote access and inclusion have enabled us to recruit a highly diverse student body. We are fortunate to educate students who represent a diverse range cultures, experiences, demographic, social and economic backgrounds and identities, including but not limited to, students from racial and/or ethnic groups under-represented in higher education; first-generation college students; veterans and military-affiliated students; students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds including socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds; geographic location including rural communities; students who identify as LGBTQ and other gender identities; female STEM students; students with disabilities; international students of differing cultures and languages; “non-traditional” students, including adult learners; and students with varying religious backgrounds, or who identify with no particular religious background.

To advance institutional excellence and student success, FDP is designed to promote a diverse and inclusive faculty by supporting flexible recruiting and hiring procedures to hire faculty who reflect the diversity of our student body, communities and persons not adequately utilized in our academic environments. This FDP is focused on T/TT faculty and is designed around the principles articulated by the Provost’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council in their September, 2017 report. Coupled with the dean’s accountability processes and other measures instituted earlier this academic year, this program is one of several early steps in Academic Affairs to accelerate our progress towards our institutional inclusive excellence goals.

The FDP utilizes the Special Opportunity Hiring mechanism, a more flexible approach toward identifying potential candidates from under-utilized groups, which gives departments/colleges the capacity to act quickly and capitalize on unique opportunities without a long screening process. Under this mechanism, the college/department that wishes to conduct a FDP hire will initiate inquiries about prospective candidates through professional networks and other information sources for a position that has not been advertised.

The FDP does not take the place of our efforts to increase the diversity of faculty hired through traditional search processes. Rather, it is a complementary tactical program designed to accelerate our success in diversifying our faculty in accordance with our institutional goals. Candidates suitable for consideration under FDP are required to meet the usual high standards for academic excellence of UTSA faculty, as well as to contribute to the college’s programmatic needs. Although U.S. Department of Labor regulations require an open search for most regularly authorized academic appointments, because diversity hiring advances and supports academic excellence as outlined above, it is recognized as a justification for a search waiver that is authorized under the Special Opportunity Hiring mechanism.

FDP Evaluation Criteria:

Colleges/Schools/Departments seeking financial support to recruit diverse T/TT faculty must establish that those individuals demonstrate competency in one or more of the following critical areas that are illustrative, not exhaustive or singular:

  • engagements with students that advance diversity and inclusion;
  • the potential to contribute to our understanding of the conditions that enhance access to and full participation of a diverse academic community;
  • experience with developing innovations in pedagogy and curriculum to engage a diverse student body;
  • experience with mentoring students from groups that have been under-utilized in higher education;
  • innovations in research, scholarship and creative achievements that advance diversity, and inclusion;
  • research and scholarship that addresses the needs of our diverse society;
  • artistic expression, cultural production or innovation activity that reflects culturally diverse communities or voices not well represented in the arts and humanities;
  • research that addresses the experiences of groups underrepresented in higher education, including women as well as racial/ethnic minorities in STEM disciplines;
  • partnerships in outreach and service that promote diversity and inclusion;
  • a record of service aimed at expanding educational access, including building or leading bridge and mentoring programs for undergraduate and graduates;
  • particular expertise with serving the needs of our diverse state and region’s economic, social and cultural needs;
  • broader programs of research concerned with eliminating disparities such as access to health programs, educational advancement, political engagement, social mobility, and civil and human rights.

Because of the critical importance FDP hires can play in transforming the academic environment, not only in the home department, but also in the college and across the university, interdisciplinary hires that meet or connect multiple interests will be prioritized.

Funding Model:

FDP is funded by the Strategic Priorities Fund under UTSA’s Incentivized Resource Management (IRM) budget model and process, https://www.utsa.edu/irm/, and is administered by Academic Affairs. Funding of no more than $100,000 per hire (including benefits) is available for up to four years based on the formula below. The total amount of funding available each year depends on the hires that have been made in the previous two years. In some cases, lesser levels of funding may be offered to maximize the number of hires under this program. The typical FDP funding model employed is:

  Initiative (Academic Affairs) College/School/Department
Year One 100% 0%
Year Two 75% 25%
Year Three 50% 50%
Year Four 25% 75%
Year Five 0% 100%

FDP will be reviewed annually to ensure that it is being implemented in a manner that meets the strategic priorities outlined above.

Recruitment Incentives

In order to “prime the pump” and initiate productive relationships with particularly promising candidates, funds are available from the Office of Inclusive Excellence to supplement those from the College/School/Department to enable a campus visit to showcase UTSA programs in support of eventual FDP recruitment. Up to $1000 in matching funds (1:1 match with College/School/Department) per candidate ($3000 matching fund maximum if a group of candidates is recruited through speaker series or special topics colloquium for example). To be eligible for these recruitment funds, candidates are required to give a scholarly lecture to college faculty and must have at least one organized engagement with relevant student groups.

Application Process:

The Special Opportunity Hiring Mechanism is used to accomplish FDP hires, and the general procedure to accomplish FDP hiring is described on: https://provost.utsa.edu/VPAFS/documents/Special-Opportunity-Hires.pdf. FDP Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis during the academic year.

Once promising, eligible individuals have been identified by faculty and nominated to the Chair, the Dean submits a written FDP proposal describing how the candidate’s background, experience and other qualifications will advance academic excellence and strategic priorities, as outlined in this Initiative and in President Eighmy’s Vision and Strategic Plan for UTSA. This proposal should address how this hire advances excellence through diversity and inclusion, which should specify the candidate’s track record, experience, and commitments to research, teaching, service, and outreach collaborations with traditionally under-utilized students and constituencies, as outlined in the rationale and criteria above. Student evaluations, publications or other materials that address the criteria also may be submitted, which is particularly important when such information is not detailed on candidates’ CVs. Be sure to describe how the potential hire of the prospective candidate addresses the following circumstances (please consult in advance with the Vice President for Inclusive Excellence [VPIE]):

  • Under-Utilization refers to the under- or non-representation of any race, gender, veterans, or disabled persons in an academic department, college or school – a condition in which a statistical disparity exists between the percentage of women and/or racial/ethnic minorities, non-minorities, veterans, or disabled in a given segment of the University work force and the percentage of qualified women and/or racial/ethnic minorities, non-minorities, veterans, or disabled persons available for these positions.
  • Veterans and Disabled Persons: Federal Regulations require that employers be measured against a benchmark “goal” for hiring veterans and people with disabilities. The Department of Labor has set a 7% goal of hiring veterans and persons with disabilities within each established job group. Please note that each applicant must be invited to self-identify as a covered veteran or person with a disability before a hiring decision is made (e.g., with the “application materials for the position”) and each applicant receiving an offer must be invited to self-identify as a covered veteran or person with a disability after an offer is extended but before the applicant begins working.
  • Special Needs could include areas where there is a high concentration of ethnic minority majors or courses with a high concentration of ethnic minority students but little ethnic minority faculty. Please consult with the VPIE in advance, final determination is made in consultation among Academic Affairs, VPIE and Human Resources.

Include the IRM funding plan that describes how the college will meet the FDP financial requirements. The Vice Provost for Academic Finance and Administration is available to provide assistance to colleges/ schools/departments in developing the IRM funding plan.

Also describe the candidate vetting process, including how the candidate will be reviewed by faculty and others prior to hire, and attach the preliminary offer letter, Source of Funds form, draft start-up support list and the individual’s CV. If more than one FDP proposal is submitted by a dean, provide the priority order of request in relation to other requests that have been submitted by the school or college.

Please note that for promising scholar’s early in their career who show particular research promise but who do not yet have the typical record of achievement expected of UTSA junior faculty candidates, initial appointment for up to two years as a University Post-Doctoral Scholar may be requested. In this case, the specific departmental/college academic criteria that the candidate must meet to move onto the tenure track must be stated prior to recruitment. Formal academic evaluation will be conducted. For assistance with Academic Affairs review process and crafting the academic mentoring/faculty success program of support, please contact the Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Success.

Review:

FDP reviews are ongoing under the Special Opportunity Hiring mechanism, and will be completed as soon as is practicable. The Provost reviews the Dean’s written candidate nomination proposal, funding plan and required materials. If the proposal and funding plan are approved after discussion with the Dean, the nominated individual is approved as a candidate and the hiring process is then authorized to proceed per established Academic Affairs guidance. The Dean, in consultation with the relevant Department Chair, initiates the process of candidate review to hire in accordance with established guidelines prior to final negotiations.


Contact

Please feel free to submit questions or input to provost@utsa.edu.