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From The President and Provost

September 6, 2011, Volume 58, No. 02

Penn’s standing as an eminent and innovative university rests on our conviction, combined with compelling evidence, that excellence and diversity go hand in hand. In the first part of 2011, we worked with students, faculty, and staff across campus to develop a plan that would help make that conviction a reality. 

The Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence outlines the initiatives, both new and in progress, that will help us recruit, retain, and mentor an ever more distinguished and diverse faculty. These initiatives will call upon the energy and commitment of every member of the Penn community. 

Diversity is not only a public good—it is also very good for Penn. Our quest for eminence depends on great minds that represent a wide array of perspectives and backgrounds. 

We look forward to your support and sustained engagement as we implement this Plan in the months and years to come.

—Amy Gutmann, President

—Vincent Price, Provost

Penn's Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence

June 27, 2011

Introduction: First Principles

A great university—true to its name—must encompass a universe of backgrounds and experiences, ideas and ideologies, theories and perspectives. At Penn, we embody this diversity in our strategic vision, the Penn Compact, which promises to increase access for talented and hardworking students of all backgrounds, to integrate knowledge across far-reaching areas of inquiry, and to engage with our multiplicity of local and global communities. Across 12 Schools, more than 25,000 students, and more than 4,000 faculty members, we become one university: a wide-ranging, ever-changing community that draws its strength from a multitude of races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, historical traditions, ages, religions, disabilities, veteran status, interests, perspectives, and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

In the vision of our founder Benjamin Franklin, the diversity of our university must reflect the diversity of the world around it—and the diversity of the world that we want our students to lead. Diversity thereby informs our mission to prepare the students who will be the guardians and innovators of the future. It shapes our shared responsibility, as an intellectual community, to foster innovative research, advance a variety of new approaches, and consider issues from a wide range of viewpoints. At the same time, diversity remains an aspiration and a goal that demands continual improvement. We value diversity above all as a means toward the essential ends of higher education: equalizing opportunity, educating leaders for all sectors of society, and enriching the experience of all members of our community insofar as we learn more from those who are different from us than from those who are just like ourselves.

We call upon the members of the Penn community to help us pursue the diversity of our faculty with renewed energy. We must build upon the momentum of past decades, while creating a fresh sense of urgency for the future. In the pages ahead, we invite you to join us in imagining—and putting into practice—this future of faculty diversity at Penn.

The Way Forward

In 1993, when Penn appointed the first woman to lead the University (and the first woman to lead any Ivy League institution), approximately 21% of Penn’s standing faculty were female and 8.4% were ethnic minorities. Under the leadership of three successive women presidents, significant progress has been made in expanding the representation of women on Penn’s standing faculty, although challenges remain in raising the proportion of female faculty in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine. Similarly, we have made strides in increasing the number of minorities on Penn’s faculty. In the fall of 2010, 30% of Penn’s standing faculty were female and 17% were ethnic minorities. 

Dramatic advances have also been made in increasing the diversity and excellence of Penn’s student body. Presently 53% of Penn undergraduates and 53% of graduate and professional students are female, and 32% of undergraduates and 20% of graduate and professional students are U.S. minorities.

While we have made progress, the results fall short of our aspirations.  We are more determined than ever to recruit and retain faculty whose excellence and diversity allow us to prepare our students to become leaders in an increasingly global society. In partnership with the Deans and other senior University leaders, we will redouble our efforts to foster a diverse, inclusive, and equitable campus, where scholars, students, and staff from all backgrounds can do their best work. Supporting a superb, inclusive faculty is among Penn’s highest priorities, and only by doing so can we move from excellence to eminence in all of our core endeavors.

This plan will help Penn move toward the goals of:

• Building a more diverse faculty, whose composition reflects the pool of exceptional, qualified applicants nationally in all fields; and

• Creating a more inclusive campus community, where all feel welcomed, supported, and have equal access to networks for mentoring and research. 

Achievements and Challenges

a. Recruitment

The principal responsibility for faculty recruitment rests with each of Penn’s 12 Schools. The Provost’s Office works in partnership with the departments and Deans to make the University’s standing faculty even more excellent and diverse.    

Numerous programs and initiatives support diversity throughout the University. Both the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School offer a variety of resources to search committees to help them broaden applicant pools. The Target of Opportunity Committee of the School of Arts and Sciences identifies excellent scholars from underrepresented populations and brings them to the attention of appropriate departments. The Provost’s Office provides, through the Faculty Opportunity Fund, a partial two-year subsidy to individuals who enhance the academic strength and diversity of the faculty. In the last five years, this program has supported 88 such candidates. The Dual Career Program has offered substantial help to departments that need to find a position for the spouse or partner of a desired recruit. When the first and second proposed hires are located in different Schools, Deans can request cost sharing from the Provost’s Office to supplement support from the two sponsoring Schools. Since the majority of Penn faculty have an employed partner, many of whom are academics, this program offers an important resource for hiring and retaining faculty. Additionally, the Vice Provost for Faculty educates search committees about best practices. While each of these programs has helped to build a more diverse and inclusive faculty, they can be improved and expanded.

We are committed to strengthening and supporting the work of Deans and department chairs in their recruitment efforts, and we propose the following changes:

• Diversity Action Plans: Each School will develop its own plan for increasing faculty diversity, as described on page IV, and will provide substantial resources to implement its plan. School initiatives will be launched in partnership with the central administration, which will offer enhanced incentives to help each part of the University build a more inclusive faculty.

• Presidential Term Professorships: We will support up to ten term professorships at the junior and senior level for exceptional scholars who will contribute to faculty excellence and diversity. The Provost’s Office will accept nominations from any School or department, for appointments at any rank. Funding will be shared with the School on a matching basis. When a holder of one of these professorships leaves the University or rotates out of the chair, its central funding will return to the central pool to be reallocated.

Faculty Opportunity Fund: To encourage Schools to make greater use of the Faculty Opportunity Fund, we plan to extend to five years the time that a central subsidy can provide bridge funding until a retirement frees new resources.

The Dual Career Program will be strengthened by permitting greater flexibility in the financial arrangements between the Schools that support the two hires and by more actively publicizing its existence. The Vice Provost for Faculty will work with departments seeking to place the partner of a recruit.

• Local Recruitment Pools: We will maintain lists of Fontaine Fellows, Post-doctoral and Pre-doctoral Fellows, and their fields to provide Schools and departments with information on candidates for open positions.

Partnerships with the Leadership Alliance and HBCUs, Tribal Colleges, Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Women’s Colleges: Diversifying the Penn faculty can also be done in partnership with other schools through collaborations of mutual benefit; this could include team-taught courses, occasional lectures, informal consultations, use of libraries and research collections, and short visits. The University will work to strengthen and expand existing collaborative relationships and to cultivate new ones, exploring the use of networking media to open our campus to a more diverse group of scholars and teachers.

b. Faculty Development

Recruitment of a broadly inclusive faculty must be combined with effective measures to retain them and to provide a campus environment in which all can thrive throughout their careers. Retention depends on building and maintaining an inclusive campus community that allows faculty, students, and staff to feel valued and supported.

In recent years, Penn has implemented a variety of programs designed to help faculty reach their full potential. Penn’s family-friendly policies include reduction in teaching duties after the birth or adoption of a child, extension of the tenure probationary period for primary caregivers, adoption assistance, and back-up childcare. These policies help faculty combine their professional and personal obligations, and we will maintain and expand them.

In 2006, Penn also established guidelines to help ensure that all junior faculty receive effective mentoring. These programs, which have been established in all 12 Schools, link junior faculty to senior colleagues who can provide guidance. In addition, the Penn Fellows Program provides leadership training to a small group of outstanding mid-career faculty, while building a cross-campus, interdisciplinary network to help support and advance their development. Other community-building programs, such as the Forum for Women Faculty and the Perelman School of Medicine’s FOCUS Initiative, provide networking, mentoring, and leadership training for female faculty. For faculty of color, this function has been fulfilled largely by cultural studies programs and by initiatives such as the Minority Faculty Development Program in the Perelman School of Medicine.

New initiatives to support faculty development and build community will include:

• Broader, better supported mentoring: Faculty needs for mentoring do not end with tenure. We propose extending mentoring programs to include mid-career faculty and offering additional mentoring opportunities for faculty of color and women in STEM fields, where their small numbers can lead to a sense of isolation. Mentoring must count as valuable University service and will be recognized as such in annual reviews and in considerations of promotion to full professor. Mentoring should be incorporated into faculty work plans and discussed and evaluated in the annual reviews of departments and Schools. In addition, we will establish awards for effective mentors to recognize them for their work and to highlight best practices.

Family-friendly policies: To help those who combine a demanding academic career with caring for their families, we will explore with the Health Schools the addition of a permanent part-time academic clinician track. We will also explore both the provision of low-cost, limited weeknight childcare at a Penn-affiliated center near campus, which will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, and small grants for temporary childcare to support faculty attendance at professional meetings.

• University leadership: The Vice Provost for Faculty will provide support for additional leadership development activities for faculty on and off campus. Moreover, we will redouble our efforts to increase the diversity of the University’s senior leadership team so that it better reflects the diversity of the campus community.

•  Eminence and Innovation Fund: This new Fund will provide resources for interdisciplinary scholarship on topics related to equity, inclusion, and diversity, in an effort to strengthen the Penn curriculum in these areas and to recognize excellence in these important fields of inquiry. Funds will be awarded to Schools on a matching basis.

• Resources for faculty development: More effective communication about the range of programs available to support faculty as they move through their careers will strengthen the campus community. We will mount a comprehensive communication plan that includes attention to family-friendly policies, leadership opportunities, and the campus’ many programs designed to support greater inclusion.

c. Expanding the Pipeline

Multiple programs overseen by the Vice Provost for University Life encourage students from underrepresented populations to consider graduate education and careers in the professoriate. Initiatives such as Advancing Women in Engineering, the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program provide mentoring, research support, and networking opportunities for talented young people at Penn. In 2008, we recruited an Associate Vice Provost for Access and Equity to further strengthen existing programs and to recommend new strategies and partnerships.

At the graduate level, the Fontaine Fellowship Program provides financial support and mentoring for approximately 200 students each year from groups underrepresented in the academy. Recently, additional funding support has enabled us to increase the number of Fontaine Fellows, who have gone on to faculty positions at leading universities across the country, including Penn. We will work with the Deans to enhance Penn’s support of this successful initiative and to recruit more of these excellent emerging scholars to Penn’s faculty.

A new program of Postdoctoral Fellowships seeks to attract promising scholars and educators whose life experience, research projects, and employment background will contribute significantly to our academic excellence. The Fellowships, available for three years of postdoctoral training in all areas of study at the University, are designed to attract outstanding graduate students to Penn who have completed or will complete the requirements for the Ph.D. before their fellowship begins. Each Fellow receives a stipend, University benefits, and funds for conference attendance, with financing shared between the University and the Schools. We aim to double the number of fellowships over the next five years and will urge departments and Schools to work to retain the very best of these fellows to increase the diversity of Penn’s faculty.

Biomedical Graduate Studies, founded in 1985, served this year as the academic home for 700 Ph.D. candidates in the basic biomedical fields—52% of whom are female and 12% of whom are underrepresented minorities. Housed in the Perelman School of Medicine, BGS is a collaboration of more than 600 faculty members across seven Schools and several associated institutes that provides centralized support for admissions, student fellowships, curricular oversight, recordkeeping, and other operations. BGS students receive an annual stipend, tuition, fees, and health insurance. We will work to provide greater visibility and support for this exceptional collaboration and to track its graduates for possible future recruitment.

In addition to these existing initiatives, we will support:

• Dissertation Fellowships in the social sciences and humanities to bring to campus excellent scholars engaged in doctoral research and writing whose work and presence will help sustain Penn’s commitment to diversity. Fellows will be affiliated with and based in a center, program or department to help ensure that they will be effectively mentored and integrated into an established Penn community. The Fellows will have access to the University’s research resources and libraries, as well as the opportunity to interact with faculty and graduate students on campus. The Fellowships will include stipends and small research funds, the support for which will be shared by the University and the Schools.

Three Graduate Fellows, chosen from among current graduate students, will assist the administration in planning programs designed to build a more inclusive campus community and in mentoring graduate students as they enter the job market and look for postdoctoral fellowships. They will be compensated for organizing academic symposia and other programs that promote the interaction of graduate students, alumni, and faculty.

Assessment and Accountability

Over the past decade, progress in increasing the diversity of the Penn faculty has been tracked through the Gender Equity and Minority Equity Progress Reports, which are issued every three years. The University’s ability to monitor the composition of the faculty has also increased with the development of the Faculty Information System. Moreover, the Provost meets annually with each of the Deans to review the composition of each School’s faculty, tracking changes in its demographics. The results of the tracking are monitored in the aggregate, and each of the 12 Schools also has a faculty affirmative action officer who is responsible for reviewing every faculty recruitment. Appointments cannot be made until a search has been certified as being in compliance with University policies and with federal and local laws governing affirmative action and equal opportunity. Nevertheless, reviews by affirmative action officers normally take place too late in the hiring process to shape the applicant pool. In close partnership with the Deans, we will redouble our efforts to find ever more effective means of assessing hiring patterns, communicating the results, and holding ourselves and our colleagues accountable.

• Diversity action plans: By May 1, 2012, each of the Schools will develop its own plan for increasing faculty diversity, which will be accompanied by substantial resources at the School level to leverage those being provided by the central administration. The larger Schools should include plans at the department level. These diversity action plans will outline procedures designed to help ensure broad outreach during searches, describe efforts to provide effective mentoring and an inclusive and supportive climate, and detail School plans for faculty development and retention. Additionally, each plan will include metrics to allow for the assessment of progress in each of these areas. The Provost will meet with each Dean every year to gauge progress and to discuss modifications that would strengthen the plan in the future.

• Diversity search advisors will replace faculty affirmative action officers and, through their increased numbers and closeness to the search process, will make possible the design of broader applicant pools and more detailed scrutiny of a wide group of candidates. They will be appointed by the Deans (or their deputies) and receive information regarding best practices for conducting inclusive searches. They must be associate or full professors in the standing faculty, generally from the department or division carrying out the search. The diversity search advisor will participate in defining the position and designing the recruitment effort to help ensure outreach to a broad pool of candidates, especially to groups who are underrepresented in the department or School. Diversity search advisors will serve on search committees whenever possible and will be available to provide advice and support. They will review with the Deans (or their deputies) the shortlist of candidates under consideration before interviews are conducted. Diversity search advisors, along with the department chair and the Dean, will review and approve the compliance form documenting that the search process was conducted in accordance with University policy. Although there may be School-level variations, early engagement of the diversity search advisor in the recruitment process will be an essential element of all School diversity plans.

A faculty survey will be launched in academic year 2011-12 to collect individual opinions of job satisfaction and campus community. Developed with the assistance of the Faculty Senate and its committees, the questionnaire will help Schools and departments understand faculty needs and determine the best ways to improve the experiences of all Penn faculty members. It will permit comparison of perceptions and campus climate among Schools and departments and will allow the opinions of all faculty to be considered.

Exit interviews: Penn has developed a comprehensive questionnaire for departing faculty to explore their reasons for leaving the University and their perception of their years at Penn. We will look for ways to improve administration of the survey and will share an analysis of responses with the Council of Deans and other relevant bodies.

To implement all the elements of this Diversity Action Plan, the University will commit $50 million in central resources over the next five years, which will be matched by equivalent resources from the 12 Schools. In cooperation with the Deans, we will create a new Eminence and Diversity Fund, designed to build a more inclusive and equitable campus and support a broad set of measures. The fund will provide additional resources for recruitment, retention, and pipeline activities, as well as money for research into issues related to diversity. Priority will be given to projects for which costs are shared with the Schools.

The Fund will finance:

Presidential Term Professorships

Postdoctoral Fellowships

Pre-doctoral Fellowships

Graduate Fellows

Partnerships with the Leadership Alliance Schools, HBCUs, HSIs, Tribal Colleges, Women’s Colleges, and other consortia working to increase faculty diversity

Dual Career Program

Faculty Opportunity Fund

Family-Friendly Policies

Goals Moving Forward

Seven years ago, we made a bold commitment through the Penn Compact to demonstrate that our University’s path from excellence to eminence goes hand in hand with our increasing access to the most talented, hard-working students from all backgrounds, our supporting the most innovative interdisciplinary scholarship, and our expanding Penn’s collaborative local and global engagement. Now, we call upon the Penn community to renew the urgency of our making Penn a worldwide leader in both access and equity, by shaping a faculty whose intellectual and individual diversity and eminence are second to none.

To accomplish this, we must first advance the diversity of our faculty with targeted and aggressive recruitment efforts in ways that reflect the availability of outstanding talent across all the disciplines represented in Penn’s 12 Schools. To retain this eminent faculty, we must simultaneously create an environment that encourages debate and dialogue across all points of view, fosters the widest range of new ideas and creative research, and enables every member of the Penn family to feel included and respected. 

To succeed, these must be the priorities not only of the President, Provost, and Deans, but also of all members of the Penn community. Only by working together can we position Penn as a global leader in diversity and inclusion. In so doing, we will move from imagining a more inclusive and eminent University to creating it. As we enhance the pipeline of future faculty and research leaders, we will build a legacy that enriches not only the Penn community but also the larger academic community and the wider world.

Almanac - September 6, 2011, Volume 58, No. 02