An important priority for UT Austin is understanding issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion, and fostering an equitable and inclusive environment for all faculty members. For faculty members, equity and inclusion issues may span a broad array of topics, from compensation and salary, diversity and representation, promotion and tenure, and leadership opportunities, to name just a few.
Recently, a group of faculty members met with Provost McInnis and other university leaders to share findings from an independent report concerning equity issues experienced by Latinx faculty members. This meeting, in addition to previous and current work across the campus, is helping to sharpen the university’s understanding of faculty experiences and concerns.
As the university continues to engage on these issues, below is a short overview of the efforts currently underway, as well as some new initiatives intended to pilot new approaches.
Faculty Equity Councils
Last year, I charged the Council for Racial and Ethnic Equity and Diversity (CREED) to examine issues facing Latinx faculty members. This university-wide faculty council committed considerable time and effort, working with the broader campus, to identify issues, collect and assess the available data. They provided a list of recommendations to me in May 2019. Many of the issues they identified echo issues also identified in the independent report. In its deliberations and recommendations, CREED was able to utilize previous analyses generated by the University Faculty Gender Equity Council, as well as insights from the newly created Council for LGBTQ+ Access, Equity and Inclusion. These councils act in an ongoing capacity as advisory bodies to the provost, and they work closely with the deans and diversity officers in the colleges and schools across campus.
New Deans Committee
In response to the issues identified in the recommendations provided to the provost by CREED, Provost McInnis recently charged a group of deans to pilot new approaches to address such issues as salary equity, diverse faculty recruitment and retention, departmental governance, and academic unit climate. A faculty group will work alongside the deans and the Provost’s Office and will share feedback with the campus as they explore new approaches to address faculty issues and concerns.
Governance and Service Workload
Across the university, most decisions and discussions regarding governance and service happen at the local level and vary widely by discipline and field. In order to better understand how these processes work across UT Austin, the provost has charged the deans with reviewing how leadership and committee membership roles are assigned at the department levels, and creating a list of the current occupants; information the Provost’s Office has not previously had. The deans will work, on the bases of these analyses, to identify and address any issues that may exist. In addition, they are charged with making transparent the regular processes of fulfilling each unit’s service demands.
Salary & Compensation
Similar to the university’s recent progress on gender salary equity informed by the work of the University Gender Equity Council, the Provost’s Office is engaging in an analysis of faculty salary equity. This work will happen in close collaboration with deans to address individual faculty salary inequities to the extent any exist. The Provost’s Office will dedicate new funding for a multiyear commitment that supports salary adjustments that may be warranted. In addition, salary equity is now an annual variable in all faculty merit decisions.
In 2018, the Provost’s Office began offering Faculty Search Committee Training Workshops in order to address such issues as implicit bias, and to provide faculty hiring committees with information related to best practices. All search committee chairs are required to attend, and search committee members are highly encouraged to participate. In addition, the deans are working with their colleges and schools to emphasize the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the hiring process.
Endowments and Awards
Deans are currently working to review local decision-making processes and outcomes around how endowments, fellowships and faculty awards are administered. This report will be shared with the provost in the spring of 2020, and it will include equity assessments and selection process transparency. Based on this information, the university will work to identify and address any areas that require additional review.
In the spring of 2020, the university will conduct its second faculty-wide job satisfaction survey, which is also designed to assess and understand faculty climate issues. This national survey, the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE), includes over 250 participating higher education institutions, and provides the university nationally benchmarked, rich insight into the well-being and climate of the UT Austin faculty. This survey was first administered in the spring of 2017. The Provost’s Office is collaborating with representatives from the three equity councils to ensure that UT’s custom questions help capture climate data that are important to their continuing work. The deans will also be taking steps to understand their local faculty climate, supported by the work of their diversity officers and the Diversity and Inclusion Committees.
UT Austin also recently joined the Aspire Alliance, a national coalition of universities, in a three-year effort to develop and strengthen inclusive recruitment, hiring and retention practices for STEM faculty members. Participating universities will begin with a self-assessment of their current practices, programs and resources. UT Austin will develop and implement campus action plans to drive change and scale efforts across programs in science, technology, engineering and math. Although this initiative is focused on STEM faculty members, the university will share lessons and best practices with the broader campus to build upon the various efforts underway to address equity issues. The initiative is co-led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and funded by the National Science Foundation.
In May 2018, UT Austin became an institutional member of the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD). NCFDD is a nationally recognized independent organization dedicated to supporting faculty members, particularly underrepresented faculty members, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students from more than 450 colleges and universities in making successful transitions throughout their careers. As part of UT Austin’s institutional membership, all faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and administrators have free, on-demand access to NCFDD’s resources.