Regular searches in fields unrelated to diversity will not yield diverse hires unless departments/search committees take additional steps. It takes time to undertake the research and outreach efforts necessary to develop an applicant pool of high quality and diverse candidates. Much of this work will likely occur over the summer, but it may well need to continue into the fall. The provost and dean of the faculty and faculty equity and inclusion officers welcome inquiries about ways in which they can support the outreach efforts of departments/search committees.  Building the strongest and deepest possible applicant pool requires that the department/search committee advertise broadly and employ creative networking and innovative search strategies. The goal is to have as large and diverse a candidate pool as possible.

Placing ads in either discipline-specific or general-purpose media, although necessary, is rarely sufficient to attract the best candidates and most diverse applicant pool. Special efforts should be undertaken to attract qualified candidates who can provide diversity.  These include placing ads in national publications and in some cases in publications directed to members of underrepresented groups; sending personal letters to department chairs and placement directors of leading graduate departments and to others in the discipline who may be in a position to help identify promising candidates, and making telephone calls to elicit responses from these letters. Make a particular effort to contact leading minority scholars in the field and heads of departments at institutions with diverse populations in their graduate programs. Often these programs are regional. Track all communications.

Utilize professional networks and contacts, including professional organizations serving minority populations.  Also useful is consulting with disciplinary professional societies, which can often provide information about recent recipients of Ph.D. and post-doctoral fellowships, such as the Ford Foundation, the Consortium for Faculty Diversity, and the NSF-AGEP program, and specialized conferences such as SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science). Finally, reviewing recent professional conference programs for interesting candidates can also yield excellent candidates.  Do not hesitate to reach out to faculty members who may be under-placed and/or open to moving to an institution that offers excellent opportunities for teaching and research. It is important for Amherst to convey to potential candidates its commitment to outstanding scholarship and teaching, and to attracting and supporting a diverse student body and faculty. 

Contact departmental alumni who are in graduate school, recently granted advanced degrees, or currently in faculty positions. Send them the ad and ask for nominations or request that they convey the ad to others who could help broaden and diversify the applicant pool.  Stress the department’s commitment to creating a diverse faculty.

Reading the Files

Review applications from students and graduates of programs with a track record of producing minority Ph.D. candidates in your discipline. Consider candidates who hold degrees from institutions that are not traditionally top-rated in your field, since historically they have been more successful in attracting the best and brightest minority graduate students. In reading files, try to look for the widest possible range of information.  In defining what constitutes “best,” consider what a candidate could bring to your department and its curriculum and to the college in a wide variety of ways, including diversity.

Some minority candidates may not appear as strong on paper as they are in person. Evidence suggests that minority scholars face greater challenges in acquiring mentors who are well known in the field. Whenever possible, keep qualified potential minority candidates in your pool through the interview process. Strive for diversity in your pool of interview candidates, since an interview often reveals qualities not easily visible in an application.

Even if your outreach efforts do not result in an appointment that enhances diversity at Amherst, these efforts get the word out that Amherst is serious about recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty, aiding us all in future searches.

Consider as important selection criteria for all candidates (regardless of their own demographic characteristics), the ability of the candidate both to add intellectual diversity to the department, and to work successfully with diverse students and colleagues.

Both before and after the deadline mentioned in the ad, search department/search committee chairs should review their pools of candidates to verify whether they are of the desired quality and diversity, whether candidates who were contacted have applied, and if corrective actions are warranted. The provost and dean and chief diversity and faculty equity and inclusion officer assigned to the search will follow up with departments/search committees, as needed.

Funding to Support the Work of Building the Candidate Pool

Funds are available to assist departments/search committees with the work of building diverse applicant pools. Please contact Provost and Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein if additional support is needed.

See also