Faculty Diversity Discussions

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Edythe Abdullah, Special Advisor to President, President’s Office

With the recent discussions and comments in the last few months regarding faculty diversity, are there any changes being made? Is there a group/committee charged with the task of addressing these concerns?


Written response from Edythe Abdullah, Special Advisor to the UNF President:

Thanks for the open invitation to attend Faculty Association meetings, as well as the chance to address the association.


I am happy to amplify my answer to the question posed at the meeting of March 4, 2014.


The Association asks, “With the recent discussions and comments in the last few months regarding faculty diversity, are there any changes being made? Is there a group/committee charged with the task of addressing these concerns?”


Over the last nine months, a number of initiatives have been implemented to determine the faculty diversity mix at the university and what steps could be made to enhance that mix. Additionally, data have been collected to establish a baseline for the faculty, staff and student diversity mix in the hopes that institutionally, we can have a rich conversation about our strengths and weaknesses in this area. The goal has always been strengthening the student learning experience rooted in the reality that the pipeline for diverse faculty, staff and students is limited, and yet we value the essential benefits that accrue to our students when they are prepared to live and work in a diverse global society. Hence, two goals might be appropriate for the institution: 1) increase our diversity mix across all communities (staff, faculty and students); and, 2) ensure that all hires are committed and prepared to work in a diverse and inclusive institution.


Upon learning that 41 academic positions would be advertised within a month of my arrival, I reached out for assistance, counsel, and support from Commission on Diversity and Inclusion members, the Director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity and the President’s Office. We identified five organizations that support the production of underrepresented PhD prepared educators. We quickly reached out to those organizations and advertised the UNF positions. Additionally, we (faculty and Cheryl Gonzalez) attended the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and McKnight conferences for minority PhDs, as many institutions do to recruit viable candidates for our positions. We made contacts, corresponded and built relationships that we believe represented the university exceptionally well.


Some job advertisement were revised to include language about the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, jobs were posted on websites that minority, specifically under-represented minority candidates would view and a video was produced for deans, departments chairs, and search committees on “Hiring With Diversity In Mind.”


During this period extensive research and collaborations we initiated. National experts on faculty diversity and inclusion were contacted, as well as various universities with national reputations for programs and services to support the preparation and retention of minority PhDs. Models were collected from Penn State, Montana State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth, University of Wisconsin at Madison and others. Moreover, conversations have been held with international experts like Dr. Sue Rankin, Dr. Joann Moody and Dr. Damon Williams seeking guidance and consultation regarding the faculty diversity national crisis. In fact, Dr. Damon Williams presented to VPs, deans and chairs on Inclusive Excellence in February of this year.  Articles, websites and blogs have been reviewed.


While no new policies or procedures have been institutionalized, we philosophically agree that we must be more intentional about diversity and inclusion, as other universities are nationwide. Further, accreditation associations are requiring diversity plans for some programs. Therefore, I am working with the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion (CODI), Academic Affairs, the Director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity and the General Counsel’s office to develop draft recommendation for the recruitment and retention of highly qualified under represented faculty and staff. These recommendations will be shared and vetted widely.


If you or any faculty member would like to provide input before my draft is completed in April please reach out to me at e.abdullah@unf.edu.  In the meantime, please complete the UNF Climate Survey on Race and Ethnicity as that too will impact recommendations and future activities.


Finally, I hope to build a website that will allow you access data about your department (by majors) college, and the university as a whole. The webpage will not be completed until the summer of 2014.

Leave a Reply