Leverage postdoctoral fellowships to recruit diverse faculty

Expert Insight

Leverage postdoctoral fellowships to recruit diverse faculty

Today, most colleges and universities are interested in expanding the diversity of faculty on campus and creating an inclusive and welcoming environment. Some institutions have identified ways to design postdoctoral fellowships to recruit diverse faculty.

Unfortunately, conversion from postdoctoral fellow to tenure track professor is rare as faculty are often not involved in the postdoctoral search and screening process. Moreover, future open faculty lines are not typically considered when allocating postdoctoral positions. As a result, promising candidates who are already on campus will take jobs elsewhere.

The Carolina Postdoctoral Fellowship for Faculty Diversity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Postdoctoral Fellowship for Faculty Diversity at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) recruit and develop young faculty of color.

More on this topic

This resource is part of the Increase Faculty Diversity and Inclusivity on Campus Roadmap. Access the Roadmap for stepwise guidance with additional tools and research.

Both place postdoctoral fellows in tenure track positions more successfully than typical postdoctoral programs for two reasons. First, they align their postdoctoral searches with the future hiring needs of departments. Second, unlike most postdoctoral programs, faculty are more involved in developing the selection criteria for the fellows hired. This leaves faculty less skeptical about the qualifications of fellows as potential colleagues.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Academic departments work with the postdoc office to craft job descriptions to ensure that the position reflects departmental hiring needs, taking into account both future retirements and research focus
  • 50% of program participants have been hired as tenure-track faculty since 2006

University of Maryland Baltimore County

  • The dean of the college assesses departmental readiness (e.g., programmatic fit, availabilty of faculty lines) to increase the likelihood a postdoctoral scholar will be considered for a tenure-track position
  • 50% of fellows hired as tenure-track faculty at UMBC since the program’s establishment in 2011

Consider impending retirements and desired growth

50%

Program participants have been hired as tenure-track faculty since 2005 at UNC-Chapel Hill
Program participants have been hired as tenure-track faculty since 2005 at UNC-Chapel Hill

The Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) at UMBC requires each department to submit two hypothetical hiring plans for the next five years that outline their research and curricular goals and how these are related to university-level goals.

In one plan the departments would keep constant their existing number of faculty, and in the other they would increase their faculty number by one. The dean then prioritizes each proposed hire (both the replacement of retiring faculty and new hires) based on transparent metrics involving research, enrollment, and retirements.

Departments must also relate their evaluation of postdoctoral applicants to these five-year strategic hiring plans so that postdoctoral appointments are aligned with university hiring intentions when possible.

Related resources on faculty diversity

EAB asks you to accept cookies for authorization purposes, as well as to track usage data and for marketing purposes. To get more information about these cookies and the processing of your personal information, please see our Privacy Policy. Do you accept these cookies and the processing of your personal information involved?