Faculty Resources

Formation of Search Committee

Faculty searches enhance the breadth of scholarship and teaching, but they also offer an opportunity to expand diversity and open the door to inclusion. As departments develop diverse faculty, they need to be conscious of not only recruiting them but also retaining them as successful faculty members. “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,” said Dean Valerie Ashby in her Statement of Diversity & Inclusion. Creativity, excellence, and diversity complement and bolster each other. Therefore, the creation of a broadly diverse search committee is essential when forming and enhancing an outstanding faculty. 



Tips and Considerations

Recommended References


Current & Past Faculty Diversity Data

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 excellent resources detailing the historical hiring of women and faculty from underrepresented groups within not only specific departments, but also across Duke. 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

Recommended Resources


Faculty Position Description

Consider basing a position description on current and future departmental needs and how diversity fits into the goals of the search.

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:
    • Does my focus on skills and competencies lean too heavily on “academic pedigree” and/or a specific "type"?
    • How might the appropriate job skills and competencies come “packaged”? Be open to a wide range of candidates who may have desirable skills and competencies, but who may present differently or have followed non-traditional education or work paths.
    • Am I biased based on 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?
    • How do I feel concerning a candidate’s dress, hairstyle, tattoos, or piercings? Are my feelings toward these aesthetic components unfairly categorizing the candidate? Would these aesthetics affect the candidate's teaching or research responsibilities?
    • How do I feel concerning 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 how the candidate will “fit” into the culture of my department? Do my thoughts reflect a possible implicit bias?


Strategies to Build a Diverse Pool

The most important strategy to increasing faculty diversity is to enhance the representation within the pool of candidates. Successful efforts result from implementing a number of approaches at the same time, such as attending constituent and/or affinity resource groups at the conferences of major professional organizations, while holding an open search approach and going beyond placing an ad in specific academic journals or limiting to a small number of job websites. 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 relevant national or regional professional and academic journals or newsletters, and post announcements on websites of your professional associations. Ads should emphasize your department’s commitment to building a diverse, high caliber faculty.
  • Always be in a recruitment mode. This means keeping an eye out for all potential candidates.
  • Establish and maintain contact with other faculty and administrators at other colleges/universities, and specifically encourage them to refer all potential candidates, especially women, minorities, LGBTQ, veterans, and people with disabilities.
  • Identify leaders in your discipline who maintain diverse networks (i.e., “Gatekeepers”) and ask them for nominations.
  • Subscribe to frequently visit websites, such as Diverse Issues in Higher Education or Inside Higher Ed | Diversity Matters, which can aid in professional searches.
  • Keep CVs 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.
  • Attend conventions and conferences where underrepresented candidates are likely to be in larger numbers, such as SACNAS. 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 your pool of candidates does not meet your department’s diversity goals, consider further creative/aggressive outreach. When candidates for interviews are selected, consider the following points:



  • All individuals conducting interviews should be familiar with the Duke University Institutional Statement of Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion and it 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(s).
  • Avoid discriminatory questions unrelated 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.
  • Interviewers 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.
Contact the OIE Webmaster for help.

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.