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New evidence suggests faculty cluster hiring can improve diversity, campus climate

The USU health strand is deeply concerned with improving the diversity and cultural competence of the future health workforce as a means to improving community health outcomes overall. Faculty “cluster hiring,” or the practice of hiring faculty into multiple departments or schools around interdisciplinary research topics, is one institutional strategy the USU has explored to impact these goals. In June 2013, a set of USU health action groups proposed further study of cluster hiring to determine its impact on faculty diversity and the development of an inclusive campus climate. This action item emerged as a top priority for USU presidents and chancellors.

The USU convened an advisory group of provosts and other experts on faculty hiring to conduct a qualitative research study. Now, after nearly six months of research, the advisory group has produced a report that examines cluster hiring across ten institutions, with particular focus on diversity and climate.

The results show that cluster hiring can be an effective strategy for recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty body depending on how it is implemented. It may also improve campus climate within the following dimensions: 1) the academic success of faculty from all backgrounds, 2) an inclusive learning environment, as perceived by students, faculty, and staff, 3) collaboration among individuals from diverse backgrounds and across disciplines, and 4) community engagement. The report proposes a set of promising practices drawn from the experiences of the most successful cluster hiring programs.

The report was presented via an online press release on Thursday, April 30. A panel of thought leaders discussed the findings, including: Michael V. Drake, President of the Ohio State University, Susan D. Phillips, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, SUNY Downstate and Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, University at Albany, SUNY, Randy Woodson, Chancellor of North Carolina State University and Marc Nivet, Chief Diversity Officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

We have created a short video with highlights from the virtual release, which can be viewed below. The full recording is also available on the Urban Universities for HEALTH website.


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