University of Rochester

Office of the President

Office of the President

Re: Improving Faculty Recruitment and Retention

December 1, 2009

Recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty in a supportive and welcoming university is a University priority. While the history of diversity and inclusiveness at the University of Rochester has been an uneven one, no one today should doubt my commitment and that of our Board of Trustees and our senior leadership to be unrelenting in making progress to create a campus that is more diverse, more supportive of all of our faculty and more academically outstanding. Our destiny as a great research university is a multicultural future in which the ability of our students, faculty, and staff to work effectively with persons of different races, national origins, religions, genders, sexual orientations, and philosophical beliefs will be vital to their success.

During my first four years here I have worked with all of you to accelerate our progress in making the University of Rochester a model for diversity and inclusiveness.

In 2006, I appointed a Task Force on Faculty Diversity and Inclusiveness which made 31 recommendations to strengthen faculty diversity and inclusiveness.

In January 2007 we created the Office for Faculty Development and Diversity that has worked with Provost Ralph Kuncl and me to implement these recommendations. We have taken a number of constructive steps under this initiative including significant expansion of our Special Opportunities Fund and efforts to generalize best practices in hiring and retention.

Progress with respect to these efforts has occurred, but has been slow.

All of us involved in efforts to strengthen the diversity and inclusiveness of our University have learned from these fledgling efforts. We have increasingly appreciated that diversity is not only about numbers, but about culture. Our journey together will be one of greater mutual respect and greater mutual understanding.

Last year, the Office for Faculty Development and Diversity completed a significant new project to go beyond data and better understand the experience of our underrepresented faculty at the six schools of our University. Between October 2008 and May 2009, then Deputy to the President and Vice Provost Lynne Davidson, Intercessor Frederick Jefferson, and Senior Associate Provost Carol Shuherk conducted in-depth interviews with 94 faculty members in all schools to assess our progress in becoming a more diverse and inclusive campus and to make recommendations for improvement, particularly focusing on retention. A majority of the 94 faculty interviewed were considered underrepresented in terms of race or gender; the vast majority were tenured or tenure-track faculty. This listening tour was buttressed by three town hall meetings.

Attached is their report, Improving Faculty Recruitment and Retention at the University of Rochester: A Diversity and Inclusion Initiative.

Let me personally thank Lynne, Frederick, and Carol for a report that is honest, detailed, and often poignant. In the report you hear the voices of our faculty in terms that are sometimes painful to read, but always authentic. These are voices that when heard give us the opportunity to learn and to improve. The report depicts a campus that is in transition, but still has far to go. I was particularly struck by three case scenarios that illustrate that while our University often does provide support for underrepresented faculty that is "connected, supportive, and flourishing," there are sometimes barriers to full support of underrepresented faculty members and, on occasion, alienation and disaffection.

Despite these challenges, I find the report a cause for optimism. As the report itself explains:

We are confident that we can provide professional support to all faculty… because we know that for many the climate already exists. We have many academic leaders for whom creating a culture of inclusion and support is as much part of their day as teaching and research. While we have drawn on models in other universities to help develop University-wide programs and policies, we need not look outside the University of Rochester for examples of what can be done at the individual level. We are fortunate that these recommendations allow us to build on models within our community.

The report articulates 14 recommendations to strengthen faculty retention and recruitment. Over the past weeks, I have met with the authors of this report, the Faculty Diversity Officers, and my Cabinet to consider how to implement these recommendations.

All of us are fully committed to the objective of achieving a campus that is diverse and inclusive, where all members of our community feel welcomed and supported, and where a commitment to diversity and academic excellence progress hand-in-hand.

To achieve this objective, I support rapid implementation of eight of these recommendations during the next 18 months as specified in the following paragraphs. I also support the aspirations of the other six recommendations, but these, as the authors of the report recognize, will require further study before they can be implemented. The following eight recommendations will be priorities during the next 18 months:

These changes will be more likely to succeed if accompanied by additional focus on the professional development and personal needs of our faculty as described in the report. The report recognized that further study of these recommendations will be necessary to appreciate how most appropriately to implement them. I look forward to further analysis of these six recommendations in the following ways:

The Improving Faculty Recruitment and Retention Report aptly characterized these 14 recommendations as Phase II of our ongoing faculty diversity initiative, which "go beyond the operational issues raised three years ago."

I appreciate that characterization. These recommendations do go considerably further by addressing the personal experience of all of our faculty. In the words of the report: "Inclusion is about everyone in the community."

At the University of Rochester we should and will seek to make our University a model for diversity and inclusiveness in the 21st century. We can be proud that both Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass chose Rochester as their home. Our aspiration is one consistent with their vision – a world in which our faculty, students and staff are supported and respected regardless of race, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or philosophical belief.