New academic initiatives to bring more diverse faculty and ideas to DePauw

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The DePauw University class of 2020 will be invited to campus by a faculty that is more culturally aware than ever before.

Currently, DePauw's hiring practices for professors are centralized in individual departments. The administration wants to change the style to hire more diverse individuals, which is called a cluster hire.

“A cluster hire is when a group of individual departments come together to hire a group of faculty, so all of those faculty members can contribute to multiple departments,” said Anne Harris, vice president of academic affairs.

This style of hiring would be used in order to have professors whose studies spanned multiple disciplines and came from more diverse backgrounds.

Cluster hires are often used at larger universities and are fairly common.

“Cluster hires is a strategy used over the last 10 or 15 years to diversify faculty,” said Harris.

In order to make these new hires happen smoothly on DePauw’s campus, faculty would need to attend workshops that would help to create a more collaborative working environment.

“Hires can not be separate from development,” said Harris. “You can hire as many people as you want, but if you don’t have a culturally responsive campus, it's not going to be a beneficial situation.”

The collaborative faculty development plan would include summer workshops, reading groups and sending faculty to different conferences around the country. Such as the Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) program and then relaying what they learned to the rest of the faculty.

This move to cluster hires will ultimately make changes to improve DePauw’s campus climate.

“If we change our hiring strategy and simultaneously changing our faculty development strategy, so that we have more collaborative faculty development, we are going to be in a very different place as professors, as teachers, as a teaching and learning community,” said Harris.

Creating a diverse college campus is important because it allows for students to grow as people.

“If we really are going to have these investments in supporting the college diversity requirement and if we are going to teach those classes, we have to support that by hiring people who serve more than just one department,” said Amity Reading, a professor in the English department.

The diverse faculty will create a more culturally tolerant environment.

“Not just how do we talk to our students from our perspective to their perspective but how do we teach so that students from multiple perspectives can talk to each other,” said Harris, “there is never just one story.”

Members of the student body believe that a more diverse faculty will improve hiring over all. 

“The more diverse our faculty are the more focused our hiring is for what major departments need more faculty members,” said Perrin Duncan, the vice president of academic life for DePauw Student Government.

In addition to the new hiring practices, the DePauw administration wants to also implement the 3-2-"1" teaching style. Currently professors are at a 3:3 teaching style, which means that they teach three courses each semester. When professors are at a 2:2 style they teach two courses each semester and they have one reassigned course each semester.

These “reassigned courses” don’t have to be actual classes. There are currently 147 reassigned courses, which go to department chairs of departments with more than 8 faculty, professors who help manage student organizations and publications and other outlets approved by the university.

The 3-2-”1” style will allow Professors to be credited for their extra work that is not a traditional class.

“Faculty have been calling for support for assigned times to do faculty-student research during the semester,” said Harris, “Any faculty research during the semester, that's an overload for the faculty member.”

If professors wish to continue to teach 3-3 they can still do so. The plan is marketed as a 3-2-”1” because it offers that flexibility.

More faculty may have to be hired in order to be able to provide the 3-2-”1” structure to all faculty without causing course restraints on students.

“The 3-2-'1' structure will give more recognition to those kinds of projects that the faculty are doing that fall outside normal teaching” said Reading.

Overall these new initiatives will lead to a more diverse and a more engaged faculty that reflects the diversity of the student body.

“To my mind the best faculty will be a diverse faculty, the best faculty will be a culturally responsive faculty,” said Harris.