UC Irvine Piloting Program to Hire Diverse STEM Faculty - Higher Education
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UC Irvine Piloting Program to Hire Diverse STEM Faculty

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As part of an effort to hire a more diverse group of faculty within the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) department, the University of California, Irvine (UCI) created the Building Our Own Pipeline to the Professoriate program.

In 2016-17, 25 percent of STEM faculty members at UCI were women and 6 percent were underrepresented minorities. The new pilot program aims to bring in more women and historically underrepresented minorities.

Dr. Enrique J. Lavernia

Building Our Own Pipeline is described as a “locally funded provost-hiring incentive to recruit eight former postdoctoral scholars associated with the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (PPFP) or the system-wide partner Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship programs (CPF).”

The three elements of the program include the utilization of the hiring incentive, creating more transparency and a greater sense of career support within the recruitment process and creating a sense of community, according to vice provost Dr. Douglas Haynes.

Last fall, the University of California Office of the President Advancing Faculty Diversity program gave UCI $450,000 to pilot the pipeline project, which is part of a broader plan to hire 250 additional faculty members by 2021-22 for teaching, research and public service goals, according to UCI officials.

As part of the hiring process, deans, chair members and faculty were informed about matching hiring-incentive program opportunities. Then, departmental faculty reviewed the resumes of the former scholars and identified equity advisers to serve as resources for the candidates. Last, the candidates were provided with career resources, according to Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Enrique J. Lavernia.

During the nine-month process, seven former postdoctoral fellows were formally hired. An offer has been extended to one more person in order to reach the target goal of eight faculty hires.

Of the seven hired, five are women. In addition, four of the seven fellows self-identify as underrepresented minorities, including two African American and two Latino faculty members.

“This program has successfully demonstrated that inclusive excellence in faculty hiring in STEM fields is not only possible, but indispensable to the future of higher education,” said Lavernia.

Lavernia said he believes that success was due to the “willingness of campus leaders and faculty to try new strategies that identify and recruit highly promising early-career scientists,” as well as having “deans who understand the importance of inclusive excellence and purposefully engage their faculty to advance diversity.”

The four departments in UCI’s School of Physical Sciences and all STEM schools rank among the top 50 in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report.

“I think it’s also noteworthy that for many students – whether they are White, Asian-American, African American or Latino – these scientists may very well be the first African-American or the first Latino scientist that they’ve seen who are their primary faculty, who are lecturing in their classes and supervising their research and writing their letters of recommendation,” said Haynes. “And for me, that is part of the particular power of this pilot project. That it changes expectations among our undergraduate and graduate students and helps us to become a leader as an inclusive excellence campus.”

Sarah Wood can be reached at swood@diverseeducation.com.

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