URM Faculty Recruitment and Retention Pilot Programs

crowded sidewalks as students walk to convocation

Two new programs to support the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority faculty are beginning at the University of Iowa.

One program, which will provide financial support for UI colleges and departments that enroll undergraduate students to recruit and retain URM faculty, was started with the help of the Department of Athletics.

In fall 2017, Gary Barta, the Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie director of athletics chair, approached Dr. Lena Hill, interim chief diversity officer and associate vice president, and other campus leaders with the idea of providing financial support from the Department of Athletics toward initiatives that enhance the student experience on campus through diversity.

Recognizing the need, the Department of Athletics, Office of the Provost, and Chief Diversity Office developed a pilot initiative to support departments and colleges in the recruitment and retention of outstanding URM tenure-track faculty members. This program is intended to help the UI build a faculty community that more closely reflects the nation’s changing demographics and thereby sustains the university’s position as a leading research university. 

“We’re committed to the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students,” Barta says. “In order to achieve that goal, we know we have to be intentional on many fronts within and beyond the department. Our success is dependent upon a welcoming and supportive environment throughout our campus, the greater Iowa City community, and the state.”

The recruitment and retention of faculty and staff with diverse backgrounds is essential to UI’s teaching and research mission, and to create a more inclusive campus culture. Both are key strategies of the UI Strategic Plan. Providing students with a rich and diverse cultural and social experience during their journey toward earning a degree is a pillar embedded in the strategic plans of both the university and the Department of Athletics.

The Department of Athletics will contribute $150,000 a year for three years, or a total of $450,000, to this pilot program. The Office of the Provost is committing $50,000 per year, for a total of $600,000. The funding is designated to support recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority faculty in these ways:

  • Supplemental support for research supplies, equipment, and/or travel funds
  • Summer salary coverage or funds to offset research salary
  • Programmatic efforts within the department that would support diversity efforts (e.g., seminar series, outside speakers, etc.)
  • Programmatic developments that support the new faculty member’s research (e.g., conference, symposia, etc.)
  • Other forms detailed by the department upon application for support

“This demonstrates that our athletics department is not just invested in making sure that we are an institution where student-athletes thrive, but that we’re an institution where all students, faculty, and staff thrive,” says Lena Hill, former interim chief diversity officer and associate vice president. “I want to thank them, as well as the Office of the Provost, for contributing to this very exciting initiative.”

Other efforts to support the recruitment and retention of URM faculty include the Ethnic Studies pilot program and renewed support for faculty and staff affinity groups. In recognition of significant service demands and retention opportunities associated with ethnic studies units, the Chief Diversity Office implemented a pilot program to provide supplemental research, equipment, and travel support for faculty holding joint or complimentary appointments in African American Studies, Native American and Indigenous Studies, and Latino/a Studies.

Faculty and staff affinity groups address the needs and concerns of underrepresented groups; improve climate and build relationships; serve as a liaison between underrepresented minority faculty, staff, students, and the university community; and support university recruitment, retention and graduation efforts. These groups include the African American Council, Council on Disability Awareness, Council on the Status of Women, Latinx Council, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Staff and Faculty Association, and Native American Council.

UI Athletics

African American Studies

Native American and Indigenous Studies

Latina/o Studies

Diversity Councils