Thanks to its intentional efforts, UTSA’s faculty is more diverse than many peer institutions. By comparison, UTSA ranks second among approximately 20 institutions designated as both Carnegie R1 and Hispanic-Serving Institutions for the percentage of all tenured/tenure-track (T/TT) faculty. who identify as Hispanic/Latino (18%). Only the University of Texas at El Paso is higher (29%).
In the fall of 2021, UTSA welcomed its most diverse cohort of tenured/tenure-track faculty. Of these new T/TT professors joining the university for the 2021-2022 academic year, 33% identify as Hispanic or Black. Specifically, the percentage of new T/TT faculty who identify as Hispanic rose to 30% in 2021 from 14% three years earlier.
“To make progress toward our overall goal, we must be deliberate and intentional in our recruiting and hiring with each new cohort of faculty,” Espy said. “We will continue to shake things up by recruiting and hiring talented people who bring new perspectives to our campuses and bring us closer to becoming a university that reflects the future of our students, our city and our nation.”
Expanding Perspectives Through Strategic Faculty Recruitment
UTSA Academic Affairs launched its Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative in early 2019. The initiative included programs such as the Faculty Diversity Hiring Acceleration Program and others that focus on hiring promising, accomplished and diverse faculty in key areas.
Nationally Recognized STEM Education Researcher Araceli Martinez Ortiz was recruited to UTSA through the initiative’s Clustered and Connected program. Martinez Ortiz, who holds Microsoft’s President’s Endowed Professorship, has been hired to create a new engineering education program designed to train the next generation of engineering educators with diverse experiences and backgrounds, reflecting our region.
“I am very proud to be at UTSA during this exciting time,” said Martinez Ortiz. “I feel valued for my technical expertise as an engineer and engineering education teacher and for my unique perspective. It is such a privilege to find an organization whose mission is aligned with mine. I have found nothing but encouragement and support from university leaders as I work each day to carry out my research program which aims to discover approaches that inspire and prepare students from a wide variety of backgrounds. experiences and cultural experiences to succeed in engineering, design, and other STEM careers. .”
Another hiring initiative program is the Provost’s Diversity Postdoctoral Fellows to Faculty program, a two-year development program designed to prepare participants for faculty positions at UTSA (or elsewhere), particularly in the fields with fewer women or members of underrepresented minorities.
Additionally, the Office of the Vice President for Inclusive Excellence created the Stealth Recruitment Portal which allows UTSA faculty to play a role in the recruitment process by referring potential candidates to faculty. Through the portal’s website, potential faculty candidates can discreetly share their cover letter, resume, or curriculum vitae with the appropriate dean or department chair.
“Innovation, critical thinking, and problem solving are greatly enhanced in a diverse and inclusive university community,” Espy said. “These diverse programs serve to create a multi-pronged approach to developing, recruiting and hiring faculty who are underutilized in the academy and reflect the diversity of our student body and communities.”
In 2019-20, UTSA implemented transformational new practices related to faculty recruitment and hiring. For example, all members of the UTSA faculty research committee participate in the Inclusive Research training. Additionally, the university has implemented strategies to create equity in the search process, diversify the applicant pool, advertise all positions in various publications, use inclusive language in job descriptions, and to offer competitive offers.
The university also ensures that faculty candidates have the opportunity to meet with affinity groups or the Vice President for Inclusive Excellence, building connections and a sense of belonging early in their experience. as a professor at UTSA.
Additionally, each faculty applicant to UTSA is asked to provide a research and teaching statement that addresses the role of diversity and inclusion in an academic environment. During interviews, all candidates are asked to describe what qualifications and experiences have prepared them to foster an inclusive environment where everyone is welcome and valued.
“All of these practices help create an environment where a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion is valued and important,” said Heather Shipleyfirst vice-rector for academic affairs and dean of the University College.
Promoting Faculty Success at UTSA
As the university works diligently to hire diverse faculty, Shipley said orienting and retaining them is equally important. It starts with a solid onboarding experience: All new full-time faculty participate in a new faculty academy, Bold Beingings at Roadrunner Nation, designed to instill a sense of belonging in the place where they have chosen to pursue their careers, as well as to effectively launch their teaching and research activities.
Academic Affairs and University Colleges have worked collaboratively to establish retention practices, including revising tenure and promotion principles to include language that emphasizes academic activities supporting the university’s role as HSI, thereby valuing research that advances diversity, equity and inclusion. Colleges have also been proactive in identifying necessary salary adjustments and offering retention programs when possible; When faculty choose to take positions at other universities, in-depth exit interviews provide data to help continually improve these practices.
Academic Innovation, an academic support division, facilitates or creates a range of development programs – often at no cost and with financial incentives – that help faculty learn and adopt new teaching practices and technologies. These programs and institutes, like the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) Inclusive Teaching and Equitable Learning course, provide faculty with year-round opportunities to learn new skills and connect with their peers outside of their departments and colleges.
Additionally, UTSA has expanded and strengthened its mentorship opportunities to foster community and belonging among faculty. Led by Faculty Success’ Academic Support Division, faculty at all stages of their careers can now access a variety of programs and resources through the Faculty Mentoring Center – from mentoring departmental faculty at the start of their career, mid-career mentoring, peer mentoring teams and mentoring, mentoring training meetings and access to resources available to institutional members of the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity.
Notably, in fall 2020, the Faculty Success team partnered with Inclusive Excellence to launch the Tenure Track Network Club, a mentorship group designed to provide early-career minority faculty with the intellectual and structural tools to increase their ability to obtain tenure.
“Individual faculty should have a lens of mentors – in their own disciplines and across the university – to support their research, teaching, service, leadership development and personal growth,” said Norma GuerraUTSA Associate Vice-Rector for Faculty Diversity and Inclusion.
A step up from traditional mentoring, Academic Affairs launched the Next-Gen Faculty Leadership Fellow program in fall 2019 to provide intensive training and development experience to promote diverse faculty leaders. Nationally, UTSA sponsors faculty member participation in the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Leadership Academy, a one-year program designed to prepare the next generation of leaders from diverse cultures to leadership and leadership positions in higher education. .
As an HSI, UTSA plays an outsized role in Hispanic student graduation. This is especially true for graduate programs – especially at the doctoral level – to increase the diversity of the nation’s faculty. For example, 47% of UTSA PhD holders. graduates identify as Hispanic or Black.
Bring lessons learned and best practices to partner institutions
In addition to his initiatives, UTSA has joined efforts to address diversity in academia on a national level. In 2019, UTSA was one of 15 public research universities selected to join the inaugural cohort of the Aspire Alliance.
Led by the Association of Public and Land-Granted Universities and funded by the National Science Foundation, the Alliance works to better support underrepresented STEM students and faculty by identifying and scaling the best faculty recruitment, hiring and retention practices.
The program has now grown to include over 125 partner universities and colleges. Four UTSA faculty members participated in the Alliance’s IAspire Leadership Academy, which aims to prepare STEM faculty from underrepresented backgrounds for leadership roles in higher education.
While focusing on cultivating inclusive teaching practices and faculty diversity, the Aspire Alliance’s ultimate goal is to attract, retain and support underrepresented students in STEM programs. to graduate and succeed in a modern STEM workforce.