Faculty Resources

On this Page:

  1. Formation of Search Committee
  2. Data: Current & Past | Department Faculty Diversity
  3. Faculty Position Description
  4. Unpacking the Impact of Bias
  5. Strategies to Build a Diverse Pool
  6. Selecting Candidates to Interview | Interview Process


Formation of Search Committee

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Faculty searches are an opportunity to not only enhance the breadth and depth of scholarship and teaching within a department, but also the diversity. In Dean Valerie Ashby’s Statement of Diversity & Inclusion she said, “We believe that we can learn the most from those who are different from ourselves. As such, we also believe that diversity--in all its forms--is a driver for new ideas, creativity and academic excellence.” Excellence and diversity are inseparable. The creation of a broadly diverse search committee is an important step in the process of creating an outstanding faculty. 

Tips and Considerations:

  • The search committee should be broadly diverse in its composition;
  • The committee chair should be familiar with affirmative action regulations (Executive Order 11246) and the university’s non-discrimination policy;
  • The committee chair and the search committee should be aware of the university’s commitment to diversity and the Institutional Statement of Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion;
  • Early in the life of the search committee, the chair should discuss the inseparable nature of diversity and academic excellenceThe Office for Institutional Equity and the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement can be resources for information;
  • Prior to serving on the search committee, the committee chair and the search committee members should receive training on the impact of implicit bias on decision-making.



Data: Current & Past | Department Faculty Diversity

A strategic approach to enhancing the diversity of departments and schools rests upon a clear assessment of past hiring patterns and the current diversity of faculty. The Provost, the Dean of Trinity College of Arts & Science, the Office for Institutional Equity, the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action department and the Annual Affirmative Action Plan are sources for information about the historical hiring of women and faculty from underrepresented groups, both within particular departments, as well as across the university at large. This data, can assist search committees in assessing the current diversity of faculty, past trends, and develop creative and aggressive approaches to increasing faculty diversity.

Tips and Considerations

  • Professional organizations can be an additional source of availability data, such as the National Society of Black Engineers;
  • The Graduate School can be a useful source for data about recent PhD graduates, including graduates of programs such as the Mellon Graduate Fellowship;
  • The Provost or the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement are available to consult with search committees and can address diversity hiring trends in a department or professional school.



Faculty Position Description

Closed laptop and glasses on table

Consider defining a position based on current and future departmental needs, rather than by the expertise of the incumbent or by past positions. 

Tips and Considerations

Consider the following proactive language in your position descriptions:

  • Candidates should be prepared to describe how issues of diversity (perspectives, learning styles, culture, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and social class) have been or will be brought into courses they may teach;
  • Candidates should describe previous activities mentoring minorities, women, or members of other underrepresented groups;
  • Successful candidates must be prepared to describe teaching/research experiences that demonstrate working with diverse student populations;
  • Successful candidates should be prepared to describe how they plan to contribute to furthering diversity and academic excellence.
  • Include the Duke University EEO Statement:
    • Duke University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual’s age, color, disability, genetic information, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.
  • Include the Duke University Institutional Statement of Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion:
    • Duke aspires to create a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity, and belonging. Our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas—an exchange that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences flourishes. To achieve this exchange, it is essential that all members of the community feel secure and welcome, that the contributions of all individuals are respected, and that all voices are heard. All members of our community have a responsibility to uphold these values.

Unpacking the Impact of Bias

Implicit bias can unintentionally impact recruitment and hiring of faculty. Research suggests that in addition to objectively based outreach strategies and careful assessment of candidates’ qualifications, individual and societal biases can influence decisions during the search committee process. Unconscious bias can influence where you look for viable candidates, how you assess curricula vitas, the interview process, as well as the final hiring decision. Increased recognition and awareness of areas of potential personal bias, as well as research-based education regarding the development of bias and its impact on decision-making can help decrease the influence of implicit bias in faculty recruitment and hiring.

Tips and Considerations

  • Require all search committee members to attend an implicit bias professional development workshop that presents relevant research, discusses the influence of implicit bias on the decision-making process, and presents strategies to manage and decrease the influence of implicit bias in the search process;
  • Video: Immaculate Perception (understanding the basics of explicit and implicit bias);
  • OIE can provide hard copies of the pamphlet, Implicit Associations, The Search Process;
  • Consider use of these questions to prompt self-reflection during the candidate interview process:
    • Is my focus on skills and competencies, avoiding unnecessary reliance on “academic pedigree” and/or type?
    •  How might the appropriate job skills and competencies come “packaged?” Be open to a wide range of candidates who may actually have the skills and competencies described in the position description, but might present differently or have a non-traditional education or work history.
    • Am I being biased regarding education, type of experience, location of experience, or organization affiliation?
    •  How comfortable/familiar am I with a candidate’s presentation style?
    •  What is my reaction to a candidate’s speech pattern, choice of words or accent?
    • What is my reaction to the candidate’s dress, hairstyle, tattoos, or piercings? Are any of these unfairly or uniquely related to teaching or research responsibilities?
    • What is my reaction to a candidate’s race, complexion, culture, gender, weight, age, veteran status, perceived religion, perceived sexual orientation, perceived social-economic class, or (dis)ability status?
    •  Am I having thoughts about “fit”? Do my thoughts reflect a possible implicit bias?


Strategies to Build a Diverse Pool


The most important strategy to increase faculty diversity is to enhance the representation within the pool of candidates. Being aggressive and creative in doing this requires going beyond placing an ad in a journal or online website. Successful efforts result from implementing a number of approaches at the same time. Some of these efforts, like attending constituent and/or affinity resource groups at the conferences of major professional organizations, should be ongoing. Even when you are not involved in an active search, you should be focused on building a cadre of outstanding talent, representing a wide range of diversity. Other tactics like contacting senior level or nationally respected faculty for names of underrepresented candidates might be an approach best utilized when actively searching for candidates for a particular position. The perception, or reality, of small national pools in some disciplines, does not mean that you shy away from the most aggressive and comprehensive search possible.

Here are approaches you might consider when building a diverse pool:

  • Advertise in national or regional professional journals or newsletters of your profession/discipline, and post announcements on websites of your professional associations. Ads should clearly indicate your department’s commitment to building a diverse faculty of the highest caliber;
  • Always be in a recruitment mode. This means keeping an eye out for potential candidates of color and women;
  • Establish and maintain contact with faculty members, unit heads and department chairs in your discipline/program unit at other colleges/universities, and encourage them to nominate candidates –including minority-serving institutions. Phone or e-mail them to inform them of vacancies; ask for their assistance in identifying potential applicants;
  • Identify leaders in your discipline who maintain diverse networks (i.e., “Gatekeepers”) and ask them for nominations;
  • Keep a file of articles from publications, such as Black Issues in Higher Education, which feature potential candidates;
  • Keep curricula vitas of prospective candidates on file and contact them when you are beginning a search;
  • Retain programs and brochures from conferences. Past conference speakers may be potential candidates, or they may know other potential candidates in their discipline;
  • Review lists of Mellon Mayes Fellows or other fellowships that might yield outstanding candidates of color or women;
  • Speak personally or send personal (not formal) letters to potential applicants or to those who might refer a potential applicant informing them of the department’s commitment to diversity;
  • Visit conventions and conferences where underrepresented candidates are likely to be in larger numbers. Spend time with committees or sub-committees that focus on issues related to underrepresented groups.

Think of “diversity” broadly, including all of the attributes that outstanding candidates may bring to the faculty. Differences in areas of specialization or the range or types of institutions where faculty completed their graduate work can be important factors in building a diverse faculty.


Selecting Candidates to Interview | Interview Process

Review candidates you plan to interview before the interviews are scheduled. If the candidates do not align with your department’s diversity mission, consider further creative/aggressive outreach. When candidates for interviews are selected, the following points should be considered:

  • All individuals conducting interviews should be familiar with the Duke University Institutional Statement of Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion. This should be communicated to candidates;
  • Avoid “snap judgments” about candidates immediately after an interview. Take time to reflect on a candidate’s answers and your reaction;
  • Avoid questions that do not relate to the position description, such as questions about marital status, age, or family size;
  • Basic questions should be the same for all candidates, with individualized questions added to explore experiences/competencies of particular candidates;
  • Discuss the potential for implicit bias;
  • Interview committees should be familiar with the historical pattern of diversity within the department;
  • Notify applicants that accommodations are available for individuals with disabilities during the application and interview process;
  • Recognize and discuss advantages and disadvantages of Skype interviews.



End Notes:
The building and maintenance of this resource is ongoing.
Resources and information across faculty and staff searches can have overlap and unique differences.
For help with phrases, word choice or information found therein please contact the Office for Institutional Equity, Ben Reese and/or Paul James.
This tool was created solely as a guide for those seeking to make hiring practices more equitable and inclusive. This is not an official requirement of Duke University/Duke University Health System.