Finishing the Work: A Case Study Exploring the Promotion of Faculty Diversity at a Research One Minority-Serving Institution

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Background: Amid demands for more diverse faculties and statements of commitment from higher education institutions to redress this issue, Faculty of Color (FOC) remain underrepresented in the American professoriate compared to their representation as U.S. citizens, undergraduate, and graduate students - including doctoral degree recipients (Aguirre, 2000; Griffin, 2019; 2020). Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore how a Research One (R1) Minority-Serving Institution (MSI) promotes faculty diversity at the institutional level and understand its influence on the professional lifecycle (recruitment, socialization, and retention) of underrepresented FOC. This study was grounded in the Institutional Model of Faculty Diversity (Griffin, 2020) and Dill and Zambrana’s (2009) framework of theoretical interventions of Intersectionality. Methods: An embedded, single-case design was employed to address the exploration of human and social concerns posed in this study (Creswell & Creswell, 2018; Yin, 2018). Two research questions guided this work. First, how does a centralized faculty diversity office work toward supporting the successful recruitment to, socialization into, and retention within an R1 MSI? Second, how do underrepresented FOC perceive the role and effectiveness of the centralized faculty diversity office in their recruitment, socialization, and retention experiences? The primary data for this study were collected through three phases of one-on-one semi-structured interviews (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015). The first and third phase were with the office’s senior executive administrator, and the second phase of interviews were with 14 tenure-track FOC from across the institution. Additional data sources included documentation related to the case and analytic memos. Data were analyzed using an inductive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Results: There were four themes interpreted from the data: (1) Poised for Progress, (2) Processes, For the People, (3) A Catalyst for Capital Building, (4) A Necessary Nexus, but (In)effective Construct. Each theme draws on data across the faculty lifecycle, showcasing the interconnectedness of intuitional context, recruitment, socialization, and retention and how each affects the other. Thus, the themes provide insight into what is most salient in centralized efforts to promote faculty diversity across the FOC lifecycle at a very high research institution. Conclusion: This study provides an empirical understanding of a holistic, centralized approach to promoting faculty diversity at an R1 MSI. The study also provides evidence of how holistic and centralized approaches influence the professional lifecycle of underrepresented Faculty of Color.

faculty, diversity, strategies, professoriate