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Enhancement to faculty recruitment program to help diversify faculty

September 26, 2018 By Käri Knutson

A strong faculty is key to a great university. And diversity within the faculty is an essential part of that strength.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is demonstrating its commitment to its faculty through an initiative designed to help recruit and retain faculty from underrepresented populations. The Target of Opportunity Program (TOP), an enhancement of the continuing Faculty Diversity Initiative, will provide increased support for departments to recruit people who represent groups that are not well-represented within that discipline.

Photo: Rebecca Blank

Rebecca Blank

“Our longtime approach has been to keep an eye out for outstanding candidates who show up in applicant pools and work to bring them in, and to make it possible to recruit individuals outside of posted searches,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said. “We’ll continue to do that. But TOP adds new tools to the toolbox. Departments will play a much more active role in identifying people they’d like to recruit.”

The chancellor made the announcement Tuesday evening at the Faculty of Color reception, an annual tradition to introduce newly-hired faculty and announce recently-promoted faculty of color.

“Diversifying our faculty is among my highest priorities,” said Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf. “I have worked at several other higher education institutions and have seen the positive impact on students’ learning when the faculty is more diverse.”

A target of opportunity is defined as a prospective faculty member who will greatly enhance the quality and diversity of an academic department. The UW–Madison’s statement on diversity recognizes diversity broadly including diversity of identity, culture, background, experience, status, ability and opinion. The TOP Program is designed to specifically support the recruitment of outstanding faculty members among historically underrepresented groups, with a particular emphasis on race, ethnicity and gender (in disciplines where women are underrepresented).

“We are thrilled with the new direction and support for the TOP effort, acknowledging that recruitment and retention of underrepresented communities are critical to our success,” said Patrick J. Sims, deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion.

The program will also provide support to help new hires get their research underway.