Creating an Inclusive Campus Climate through Enhanced Academic Review and the Creation of Faculty Learning Communities (2019-2021)
University of California Advancing Faculty Diversity Grant Program
This project represents a two-pronged approach to improving climate for faculty at UC Davis, with the aim of improving workplace satisfaction and retention. The proposed interventions focus on two areas: (a) incorporating Statements of Contributions to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the academic review process, and (b) building community among faculty whose research, teaching, or scholarship contributes to inclusive excellence. The interventions build directly on our experiences and lessons we gained from our 2018-19 Advancing Faculty Diversity (AFD) Recruitment grant, and each intervention is accompanied by an assessment plan with clear and measurable outcomes.
Improving Utilization of Contributions to Diversity Statements in the Merit and Promotion Process
The University of California Academic Personnel Manual (APM) 210-1-d, states that “Contributions in all areas of faculty achievement that promote equal opportunity and diversity should be given due recognition in the academic personnel process.” Although this instruction has been part of University of California policy since 2005, departments and Faculty Personnel Committees may have not yet developed experience of how they should evaluate Statements of Contributions to DEI, the consequence of which is that the statements are sometimes ignored or not given adequate weight in the academic personnel advancement process.
From our experience working with faculty recruitment committees as part of the UC Davis 2018-2019 AFD Recruitment grant, we know that when faculty are provided with training, proper tools, and collectively create their assessment criteria, they are able to effectively evaluate the statements and incorporate those contributions as part of a holistic review of a candidate’s dossier. In the current project, we will scale up the training that was given to the faculty search committees in 2018-2019 to the faculty in one entire academic unit on campus so that they will be better equipped to review the statements for faculty merits and promotions. Through the Office of Academic Affairs, we will create and pilot an online training module that can provide quick, effective, and easy education to anyone involved in the academic personnel evaluation process. We will also offer in-person trainings for faculty and support to department chairs and Dean’s office leadership, and work through examples and case studies.
Faculty Learning Communities
Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) at UC Davis were originally designed to bring together instructors from a number of disciplines to explore topics and themes around learning and teaching. The FLCs provide a supportive environment where members can engage in a variety of activities and experiment with new approaches to teaching, share successes and challenges, and engage in introductory research projects and dissemination of instructional practices and tools. In addition to enhancing instructional practices, Faculty Learning Communities have the added benefit of creating groups where participants gain support and a sense of belonging. Faculty that have participated in FLCs at UC Davis have reported high levels of engagement and satisfaction with the program. Specifically, participants feel that they have acquired useful professional development while also connecting with others who share a common experience (e.g., being a First-Generation faculty member).
As part of our efforts at improving faculty retention, we are undertaking a pilot program that will create FLCs for participating faculty at UC Davis and UC Merced. At UC Davis, the FLC will draw from the cohort of faculty hired through the 2018-2019 Advancing Faculty Diversity grant. As described above, these faculty were hired based in part on their past and future contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This model brings together Academic Senate faculty members and faculty at the UC Davis Center for Educational Effectiveness to create an inclusive space where members exchange experiences, ideas, and strategies about teaching; experiment with research-based practices; build skills; and reflect on their roles as educators. Community members also interact with colleagues with shared interests and specific pedagogical issues and questions. FLC meetings are led by experienced facilitators who can promote and enhance the group’s discussions.