Action Plan for Faculty Eminence through Diversity Annenberg School for Communication University of Pennsylvania May 2012

 
Introduction

As stated in the University’s Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence, “A great university – true to its name – must encompass a universe of backgrounds and experiences, ideas and ideologies, theories and perspectives.” The Annenberg School for Communication (ASC) is committed to the University’s “First Principles” as described in its Action Plan, and to its ultimate goals of “Building a more diverse faculty, whose composition reflects the pool of exceptional, qualified applicants” and “Creating a more inclusive campus community, where all feel welcomed, supported, and have equal access to networks for mentoring and research.”With these principles and goals in mind, ASC has developed the following faculty diversity action plan, divided into ten sections: (1) A general statement of our School’s commitment and approach to faculty diversity; (2) An assessment of ASC’s current strengths and weaknesses in the area of faculty diversity; (3) Ongoing and planned efforts to increase the diversity of the “faculty pipeline” in Communication; (4) Ongoing and planned efforts to assure open and effective searches; (5) The status of our current mentoring policies for untenured faculty and recommendations for improvement; (6) Ongoing and planned efforts for faculty development and retention; (7) A summary of our proposals for increasing the eminence of ASC faculty through diversity; (8) Specific hiring plans over the next three years; (9) An overview of resources that are or will be committed to faculty diversity; and (10) A brief conclusion.

1. ASC’s Commitment and Approach to Faculty Diversity

The Annenberg School is committed to faculty diversity for normative, intellectual, and practical reasons. Normatively we believe that building and maintaining a diverse faculty is part of our social responsibility to members of groups that are historically underrepresented (largely based on race and ethnicity, gender, and class) in the academy broadly and at Penn and ASC more specifically. While assuring de jure equality of opportunity in our hiring practices is an important first step in this regard, in and of itself it is not enough, given the still all too prevalent de facto barriers facing members of such groups. Thus we believe it is important to institute more pro-active initiatives designed to identify, recruit and retain high-quality faculty drawn from these groups.

Beyond the important issues of equity and social justice, however, we believe that building a more diverse faculty makes us stronger in performing our core research, teaching and service missions. Here we expand our notion of diversity to include not only members of historically underrepresented groups, but also other demographic (e.g., age, nationality, sexual identification), attitudinal (e.g., religious beliefs, political orientations), and scholarly (e.g., rank, areas of inquiry, methodological approaches) categories. It also includes addressing issues of diversity (as appropriate to our discipline) in our scholarship and teaching. Consciously taking these and other notions of diversity seriously expands the pool of both qualified new hires and qualified student applicants, encourages the asking of new research questions, widens the range of courses we offer, provides role models for our students, opens new opportunities for placing our graduates, and generally helps create a more vibrant intellectual community. This is especially true for a field as substantively and methodologically diverse, and as impacted by globalization and the changing media landscape, as is Communication. In short, we believe becoming more diverse is a necessity if ASC is to remain the preeminent School of Communication in the world.

2. Assessment of Our Current Strengths and Weaknesses

Table 1 provides a snapshot of our current standing faculty and of the results of our hiring efforts over the past ten years, both on several of the dimensions of diversity discussed above. Relative strengths include our interdisciplinarity (as measured by degrees, joint appointments and secondary appointments), our methodological diversity, and the international makeup of our faculty and their focus on domestic, international, and/or global research questions. While there are no agreed upon benchmarks regarding demographic diversity, of our 18 faculty members seven are female, two are African American, one is Hispanic, and one is Asian. One obvious area in need of improvement is our mix of full (14), associate (1), and assistant (3) professors.

 

During the last decade we have made a concerted effort to maintain the diversity of our theoretical and methodological approaches, as well as in our substantive areas of inquiry, while working to improve our diversity in areas such as rank, gender, race/ethnicity and global focus. Over this period we hired 13 new faculty members. Of these three have been hired at the associate professor level and six at the assistant professor level, nine have degrees in disciplines other than Communication, nine have secondary or joint appointments with other Schools at Penn, eight do research that focus solely or in part outside the U.S., six are female, one is African American, one is Hispanic, and one is Asian. However, while increasing our diversity in several ways, these efforts have been muted somewhat due to the retirement of a senior African American scholar, tenure denials (at the School level) of two assistant professors, and the move (for personal reasons) of one female associate professor. In addition, the promotions of two faculty members from associate to full professors, while obviously positive, has added to the imbalance among assistant, associate and full professors at ASC. In sum, while we are proud of and have benefitted from the progress we have made, we clearly have more work to do, and must do so in a more strategic way than we have in the past.

 

RANK OVERALL
(N= 18)
Hired in last
10 years
(N=13)
       Full Professor 14 4
       Associate Professor 1 3
       Assisant Professor 3 6
Degree (Ph.D.)    
       Communication 10 4
       Other 8 9
Cross Appointments    
      Communication Only 8 4
       Communication Only 8 4
       Joint Appointments 5 4
       Secondary Appointments 5 5
Methodological Orientation    
       Quantitative Social Science 6 4
       Non-Quantitative social science/Humanities 9 7
       Both 3 2
Geographic Focus of Research    
       Primarily U.S. 8 5
       Primarily International/Global 4 4
       Both 6 4
Gender & Race/Ethnicity    
       White Male 8 5
       White Female 6 5
       Black Male 2 1
       Black Female 0 0
       Hispanic Male 0 0
       Hispanic Female 1 1
       Asian Male 1 1
       Asian Female 0 0
       Native American 0 0
Place of Birth    
       U.S. 12 6
       Non-U.S. 6 7
 
3. “Faculty Pipeline” Issues & Initiatives

One of the central challenges to building a more diverse faculty, especially as it relates to issues of race, ethnicity and gender, is having an adequate pipeline of exceptionally qualified candidates from which to recruit. Communication holds a slight advantage in this regard over many other disciplines and fields, in part because a majority of recent Communication Ph.D.’s is female, and in part because Communication is, within limits, more amenable than most disciplines to hiring faculty with non-Communication degrees. Nonetheless, identifying highly qualified candidates who meet our School’s exacting standards and specific teaching and research needs while also adding to our diversity is a serious challenge.

 

Improving the pipeline is obviously a long-term goal, and one as likely to benefit the field as a whole as our own program. To date our efforts to directly and indirectly address this issue have included:

  • Increasing the diversity of our Ph.D. program applicant pool through more systematic and targeted outreach, including to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as well as to undergraduates majoring in programs relevant to Communication but likely to attract a more diverse student body.
  • Increasing the diversity of our Ph.D. students by including diversity more consciously as one of several factors to consider in the selection of exceptional students to admit.
  • Supporting Penn’s Fontaine Society through such efforts as the sponsorship of a yearly colloquium given by a visiting scholar selected by ASC’s Fontaine Fellows, and providing space and financial support for meetings of Penn’s Fontaine Fellows.
  • Cosponsoring events on diversity issues with the Africana Studies Program.
  • Providing postdoctoral fellowships for promising young scholars to provide them with the time and mentorship to develop their research, teaching and grant-getting resumes.
  • Including diversity issues as one of several factors in the selection of visiting faculty, visiting students, and guest speakers.

Moving forward we plan to continue and where possible expand the efforts described above. Specific proposals for expanded initiatives include:

DIVERSITY PLAN PROPOSAL 1 (PIPELINE): Increasing the diversity of our Ph.D. applicant pool through more systematic and targeted outreach to second and third year undergraduate students attending top-tier universities and liberal arts colleges (including Penn), with particular emphasis on students majoring or minoring in interdisciplinary areas such as Africana Studies, Gender Studies, and Latina/Latino Studies. This outreach would take place through a variety of digital and social media venues that we currently use as part of our general outreach, and would be designed to educate and inform undergraduates about the Communication field generally, and graduate studies at ASC more specifically. A similar effort will be made targeting students in M.A. programs in these fields.

DIVERSITY PLAN PROPOSAL 2 (PIPELINE): Increasing the diversity of our Ph.D. applicant pool through more systematic and targeted outreach to top-ranked HBCUs. In addition to direct outreach to students along the lines described in Diversity Proposal 1 above, this effort would include exploring formal and informal partnerships with HBCUs that include cosponsored workshops, conferences, research projects, and/or student and faculty exchanges.

DIVERSITY PLAN PROPOSAL 3 (PIPELINE): Increasing the number of undergraduate and graduate courses that focus on diversity issues, integrating diversity issues as appropriate into existing courses, and cross-listing these courses with other departments and programs at Penn as appropriate. Explore the possibility of certificates or concentrations in diversity-related topics, possibly in partnership with other departments or programs at Penn.

DIVERSITY PLAN PROPOSAL 4 (PIPELINE): More and more effective use of postdoctoral fellowships as a tool for “widening” the faculty pipeline in Communication. Specifically we will use postdoctoral fellowships flexibly and creatively in three ways:

  1. As a means of providing the time and mentorship for promising Ph.Ds. to further hone their research and teaching skills and develop their academic vita so as to increase their likelihood of obtaining and succeeding in future academic appointments, even if these appointments are unlikely to be at ASC.
  2. As a means of identifying promising candidates for possible faculty positions at ASC and providing them with the time and mentorship that will allow us to determine if these candidates develop to the point that we would hire them.
  3. As a means of extending the time prior to tenure review for highly qualified but relatively inexperienced new hires by providing an initial post-doctoral fellowship that, assuming adequate progress, could lead to an assistant professor position after one or two years.
4. Assuring Open & Effective Searches

Key to increasing the diversity of our faculty is the search process. Most obvious in this regard is assuring equal opportunity, but for reasons noted above more proactive efforts are required. One key to success in this area is creating a search structure/process that assures diversity issues are considered at each step. But equally or more important is creating a culture in which diversity is seen as an important ingredient in assuring the quality of our collective research, teaching and service. The following outlines ASC’s hiring process, emphasizing specific existing or proposed efforts designed to increase the likelihood of identifying and ultimately hiring exceptional new faculty that will contribute to and increase our eminence through diversity:

  1. Approval of New Faculty Lines:The decision to search for a new faculty member is made by the ASC dean in consultation with the ASC Executive Committee and the standing faculty as a whole. Traditionally the dean’s decision to authorize a new faculty line is based on the combination of financial considerations and the teaching, research and service needs of the School.

    DIVERSITY PLAN PROPOSAL 5 (SEARCH PROCESS): In all future decisions regarding authorization of new faculty lines, the dean, in consultation with the Executive Committee—including the faculty member appointed to the newly created position of ASC Diversity Search Advisor (defined below)—and the standing faculty will consider the potential impact of any new hires on faculty diversity.
  2. Diversity Education: Research suggests that even for well-intentioned search committees and faculty, unconscious bias can subtly influence hiring practices in ways that work against members of historically underrepresented groups, as well as those whose sexual identification differs from the majority. To raise awareness of these issues we recently invited Penn’s associate provost for faculty to present her workshop on diversity hiring to ASC’s Executive Committee.

    DIVERSITY PLAN PROPOSAL 6 (SEARCH PROCESS): ASC will work with a representative of the provost’s office to tailor the diversity hiring workshop to the specific needs of ASC and the Communication field, and present this workshop to the entire ASC standing faculty. New members of the faculty would be invited to attend subsequent workshops.
  3. Job Description:Once a line has been approved and broadly defined, a draft of the specific job description is typically crafted by the Executive Committee, and then brought to the full standing faculty for revisions and final approval. This description is used in advertising the new job in various print and electronic venues, but the process of crafting it also serves as a way for the faculty to reach consensus on the specific research, teaching and service needs we are seeking to strengthen.

    DIVERSITY PLAN PROPOSAL 7 (SEARCH PROCESS): In all future searches the process of crafting a job description will include consideration of its likely impact on attracting a diverse candidate pool. While responsibility for considering diversity lies with all members of the ASC faculty, the ASC Diversity Search Advisor will be tasked with taking the lead in this process.
  4. Job Ad Placement: Once approved the job ad is typically placed in relevant print and online publications. Included are publications and online venues that are likely to reach a more diverse pool of potential applicants (e.g., American Association of University Women, Insight into Diversity (formerly Affirmative Action Register), Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, and National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education). The job ad is also used by faculty and the dean in reaching out to individual faculty and departments.

    DIVERSITY PLAN PROPOSAL 8 (SEARCH PROCESS): In all future searches the Executive Committee will develop a dissemination plan aimed at maximizing the diversity of the applicant pool. While responsibility for this lies with the dean and Executive Committee, the ASC Diversity Search Advisor will take the lead in assuring that the final plan maximizes the opportunity for increasing diversity of the candidate pool.
  5. Application Review: Once the deadline listed in the job ad has passed, the Executive Committee meets as needed to review all files and develop a short list of candidates to recommend bringing in for interviews. Typically each file is read initially by two members of the committee. Each candidate is then briefly discussed by the whole committee (with the committee members who read the file leading the discussion). Files are then “triaged” into those that do not pass threshold, those that require more information or readings by other committee members, and those that seem the most promising. Eventually this process leads to a short list (3-5 candidates) that the committee recommends to the full faculty. The full faculty (which has access to the entire set of files should they choose to look at them) then reads the files of the recommended candidates in preparation for a discussion, after which the selected candidates are invited in for interviews. Throughout this process the Executive Committee and faculty are cognizant of the importance of diversity issues and attempt to select a set of candidates to interview that takes diversity into account, to the extent possible given candidate qualifications.

    DIVERSITY PLAN PROPOSAL 9 (SEARCH PROCESS): In all future searches the Executive Committee, when reviewing applicant files as well as when presenting its recommended candidates to the full faculty, will talk specifically about the diversity of the applicant pool and how diversity issues factored into their choice of candidates. The Executive Committee may recommend that highly promising but still developing candidates (e.g., A.B.D.s or very recent Ph.D.s) be interviewed with an eye towards hiring the candidate as a post-doctoral fellow or monitoring his or her progress for future consideration. As with all other stages of the search process, responsibility for considering diversity issues lies with all members of the faculty, but the ASC Diversity Search Advisor will be tasked with assuring that this takes place in a serious and in-depth manner.
  6. Interview Process: Candidates to be interviewed typically spend two full days at ASC, during which time they meet with faculty, graduate students and the dean; give a 45 minute talk drawn from their research followed by Q&A; and go out to dinner with several faculty members. This process appears to work well, with no obvious disadvantages in terms of diversity hiring.
  7. Faculty Deliberation & Hiring Decision: Once candidate visits are completed, graduate students send in written comments which are aggregated and shared anonymously with the faculty. The Executive Committee meets to assess the candidates, presenting their views to the full faculty for further deliberation. When deliberations are completed the faculty moves to “vote to vote.” If a majority agrees, eligible faculty members vote through an online ballot. If a candidate receives a majority vote, the dean is authorized to make an offer to the candidate, contingent on approval by the provost, president and board of trustees. Throughout this process diversity issues are one of the factors considered.

    DIVERSITY PLAN PROPOSAL 10 (SEARCH PROCESS): In all future searches, the ASC Diversity Search Advisor will be tasked with the responsibility of assuring that issues of diversity are seriously considered in the Executive Committee and faculty deliberations. In the case of highly promising but still developing candidates (e.g., A.B.D.s or very recent Ph.D.s) the faculty may recommend to the dean that a candidate be hired as a post-doctoral fellow with the possibility, assuming adequate professional development, of being hired as an assistant professor after one or two years (see Diversity Plan Proposal 4 above).
  8. Negotiations: Once a candidate is selected the dean makes the initial offer and engages in follow up negotiations as needed. This process has worked well and has no obvious disadvantages in terms of diversity hiring.
  9. ASC Diversity Search Advisor: Consistent with University rules, in the past the ASC dean has appointed a senior faculty member as our Affirmative Action Officer. The Affirmative Action Officer was responsible for assuring that faculty searches were done in a way that assured equal opportunity; formerly signing off that this was the case at the end of the search process. As mandated in the University’s new faculty diversity plan, ASC’s Affirmative Action Officer position will be converted into a “Diversity Search Advisor” position.

    DIVERSITY PLAN PROPOSAL 11 (SEARCH PROCESS): Each year the ASC faculty vote for four members of the Executive Committee. As noted above, included in this committee’s responsibilities is to serve as our faculty search committee. Going forward the ASC dean will appoint one full professor member of the Executive Committee to serve as the ASC Diversity Search Advisor. This appointment will be for one year (renewable) and include the following responsibilities:
    • Act as an advocate for diversity in consulting and or deliberating with other members of the Executive Committee, the ASC faculty, and the dean on any new proposed faculty line.
    • Review and if needed make recommendations for modifications to assure that job descriptions for new faculty searches are appropriate as regards diversity issues.
    • Review and if needed make recommendations for modifications to assure that the dissemination plans for advertising new faculty positions are appropriate as they relate to diversity issues.
    • Consult with fellow members of the Executive Committee, faculty, and the dean (as appropriate) throughout the process of collecting and assessing applicant files, acting as an advocate for diversity. Review and if needed make recommendations for modifications to the list of recommended candidates to be interviewed
    • Serve as facilitator in faculty discussions of the recommended candidates to be interviewed to assure that: (1) how diversity issues were considered in the process is explained; and (2) the implications of the recommended list on diversity are discussed
    • Once candidates have been interviewed, serve as facilitator in faculty discussions of the candidates to assure that diversity issues are seriously considered as part of the decision-making process.
    • Sign off on any forms required by the University to assure that diversity (including formal requirements regarding equal opportunity) was appropriately considered throughout the search and hiring process.
5. Mentoring Faculty

Maintaining a high quality, diverse, and professionally satisfied, productive and engaged faculty requires mentoring. ASC currently mentors new faculty in the following ways:

  • Each new assistant professor is assigned (or chooses) a senior faculty member as his/her mentor. This mentor is available to discuss any research, teaching, service or personal issue of the mentee’s choosing; go out to lunch occasionally (expenses covered by the School); and so forth. In addition, a senior faculty member is assigned as the ASC Mentorship Program Liaison, checking in with the mentors to make sure there are no problems and reporting back to the dean periodically.

    DIVERSITY PROPOSAL 12 (MENTORING): The mentorship program will be strengthened by providing all faculty a more detailed document stating the purpose of the mentorship program and outlining the minimum expectations for new faculty, their mentors, the ASC Mentorship Program Liaison, faculty more generally, and the dean. In addition, the Mentorship Program Liaison will work with the dean to identify existing Penn programs and/or develop new programs designed to assist faculty with professional development, teaching, networking, etc., and make these opportunities known and available to our faculty.
  • As part of his/her yearly faculty review the dean writes a review letter to all faculty members, highlighting strengths in research, teaching and service, and pointing out areas in need of improvement. For assistant professors, this letter includes a reminder as to where they stand in the tenure process, and specific advice aimed at increasing the chances for achieving tenure. The dean also periodically meets with untenured faculty to discuss these issues.

    DIVERSITY PROPOSAL 13 (MENTORING): The ASC dean will meet formally once a year with untenured faculty to discuss areas of strength and weakness in research, teaching and service and consider ways of assisting in any of these or other areas as needed.
  • Given our relatively small size, informal mentoring by all senior faculty is encouraged more broadly through conversations, the sharing of research, advice on teaching, etc.
  • Assistant professors are given the opportunity to present their research to the faculty and graduate students at one of our weekly colloquia.
  • During an assistant professor’s third year on tenure clock ASC conducts a rigorous review of an assistant professor’s research, teaching and service, providing an assessment and guidance for achieving tenure. The assistant professor receives an extensive summary of this review in writing from the dean, followed by a face-to-face discussion.
  • Following a successful third year review all assistant professors are granted a one course reduction (to be taken in any semester prior to tenure review), allowing the assistant professor to have one semester free from teaching responsibilities.
  • The ASC faculty and dean attempt to limit assistant professors’ administrative responsibility, while also providing enough service responsibilities to integrate them into the School and University.
6. Faculty Development and Retention

Faculty development for assistant professors occurs largely through the formal and informal mentorship described above. For tenured professors, development occurs largely through informal mechanisms, larger service opportunities at the School and University level, and opportunities for additional training. Some examples of professional development opportunities at ASC include:

  • Service on the ASC Executive Committee.
  • Appointment (three year renewable terms) as associate dean for graduate studies or undergraduate studies.
  • Participation in the Penn Fellows program, designed to give faculty the opportunity to build networks across the University, meet with distinguished academic leaders, think strategically about university governance, and participate in monthly dinners with prominent speakers from within Penn and beyond.
  • Service to the University through such appointments as ASC representative to the Senate Executive Committee, the Graduate Council of Faculty, and the Provost’s Research Council, as well as to University-wide ad hoc committees.
  • A flexible leave policy allowing faculty to participate in prominent grant and fellowship programs domestically and internationally.

Given the high quality and reputation of the ASC faculty, retention is an ongoing issue. Over the last nine years we have had nine retention cases (involving seven faculty members) that had the potential to weaken our faculty diversity and overall quality in several key areas. In eight of these cases we made extraordinary and ultimately successful retention efforts.

7. Summary of Proposed Improvements to ASC’s Faculty Diversity Efforts and Processes

In addition to continuing with the formal and informal procedures currently in place, proposed improvements include:

  1. Increasing the diversity of our Ph.D. applicant pool through more systematic and targeted outreach to second and third year undergraduate students attending top-tier universities and liberal arts colleges (including Penn), with particular emphasis on students majoring or minoring in interdisciplinary areas such as Africana Studies, Gender Studies, and Latina/Latino Studies. This outreach would take place through a variety of digital and social media venues that we currently use as part of our general outreach, and would be designed to educate and inform undergraduates about the Communication field generally, and graduate studies at ASC more specifically. A similar effort will be made targeting students in M.A. programs in these fields.
  2. Increasing the diversity of our Ph.D. applicant pool through more systematic and targeted outreach to top-ranked HBCUs. In addition to direct outreach to students along the lines described in Diversity Proposal 1 above, this effort would include exploring formal and informal partnerships with HBCUs that include cosponsored workshops, conferences, research projects, and/or student and faculty exchanges.
  3. Increasing the number of undergraduate and graduate courses that focus on diversity issues, integrating diversity issues as appropriate into existing courses, and cross-listing these courses with other departments and programs at Penn as appropriate. Explore the possibility of certificates or concentrations in diversity-related topics, possibly in partnership with other departments or programs at Penn.
  4. More and more effective use of postdoctoral fellowships as a tool for “widening” the faculty pipeline in Communication. Specifically we will use postdoctoral fellowships flexibly and creatively in three ways:
    1. As a means of providing the time and mentorship for promising Ph.Ds. to further hone their research and teaching skills and develop their academic vita so as to increase their likelihood of obtaining and succeeding in future academic appointments, even if these appointments are unlikely to be at ASC.
    2. As a means of identifying promising candidates for possible faculty positions at ASC and providing them with the time and mentorship that will allow us to determine if these candidates develop to the point that we would hire them.
    3. As a means of extending the time prior to tenure review for highly qualified but relatively inexperienced new hires by providing an initial post-doctoral fellowship that, assuming adequate progress, could lead to an assistant professor position after one or two years.
  5. In all future decisions regarding authorization of new faculty lines, the dean, in consultation with the Executive Committee—including the faculty member appointed to the newly created position of ASC Diversity Search Advisor (defined below)—and the standing faculty will consider the potential impact of any new hires on faculty diversity.
  6. ASC will work with a representative of the provost’s office to tailor the diversity hiring workshop to the specific needs of ASC and the Communication field, and present this workshop to the entire ASC standing faculty. New members of the faculty would be invited to attend subsequent workshops.
  7. In all future searches the process of crafting a job description will include consideration of its likely impact on attracting a diverse candidate pool. While responsibility for considering diversity lies with all members of the ASC faculty, the ASC Diversity Search Advisor will be tasked with taking the lead in this process.
  8. In all future searches the Executive Committee will develop a dissemination plan aimed at maximizing the diversity of the applicant pool. While responsibility for this lies with the dean and Executive Committee, the ASC Diversity Search Advisor will take the lead in assuring that the final plan maximizes the opportunity for increasing diversity of the candidate pool.
  9. In all future searches the Executive Committee, when reviewing applicant files as well as when presenting its recommended candidates to the full faculty, will talk specifically about the diversity of the applicant pool and how diversity issues factored into their choice of candidates. The Executive Committee may recommend that highly promising but still developing candidates (e.g., A.B.D.s or very recent Ph.D.s) be interviewed with an eye towards hiring the candidate as a post-doctoral fellow or monitoring his or her progress for future consideration. As with all other stages of the search process, responsibility for considering diversity issues lies with all members of the faculty, but the ASC Diversity Search Advisor will be tasked with assuring that this takes place in a serious and in-depth manner.
  10. In all future searches, the ASC Diversity Search Advisor will be tasked with the responsibility of assuring that issues of diversity are seriously considered in the Executive Committee and faculty deliberations. In the case of highly promising but still developing candidates (e.g., A.B.D.s or very recent Ph.D.s) the faculty may recommend to the dean that a candidate be hired as a post-doctoral fellow with the possibility, assuming adequate professional development, of being hired as an assistant professor after one or two years (see Diversity Plan Proposal 4 above).
  11. Each year the ASC faculty vote for four members of the Executive Committee. As noted above, included in this committee’s responsibilities is to serve as our faculty search committee. Going forward the ASC dean will appoint one full professor member of the Executive Committee to serve the ASC Diversity Search Advisor. This appointment will be for one year (renewable) and include the following responsibilities:
    • Act as an advocate for diversity in consulting and or deliberating with other members of the Executive Committee, the ASC faculty, and the dean on any new proposed faculty line.
    • Review and if needed make recommendations for modifications to assure that job descriptions for new faculty searches are appropriate as regards diversity issues.
    • Review and if needed make recommendations for modifications to assure that the dissemination plans for advertising new faculty positions are appropriate as they relate to diversity issues.
    • Consult with fellow members of the Executive Committee, faculty, and the dean (as appropriate) throughout the process of collecting and assessing applicant files, acting as an advocate for diversity. Review and if needed make recommendations for modifications to the list of recommended candidates to be interviewed.
    • Serve as facilitator in faculty discussions of the recommended candidates to be interviewed to assure that: (1) how diversity issues were considered in the process is explained; and (2) the implications of the recommended list on diversity are discussed.
    • Once candidates have been interviewed, serve as facilitator in faculty discussions of the candidates to assure that diversity issues are seriously considered as part of the decision-making process.
    • Sign off on any forms required by the University and the Federal Government to assure that diversity was appropriately considered throughout the search and hiring process.
  12. The mentorship program will be strengthened by providing all faculty a more detailed document stating the purpose of the mentorship program and outlining the minimum expectations for new faculty, their mentors, the ASC Mentorship Program Liaison, faculty more generally, and the dean. In addition, the Mentorship Program Liaison will work with the dean to identify existing Penn programs and/or develop new programs designed to assist faculty with professional development, teaching, networking, etc., and make these opportunities known and available to our faculty.
  13. The ASC dean will meet formally once a year with untenured faculty to discuss areas of strength and weakness in research, teaching and service and consider ways of assisting in any of these or other areas as needed.

    In addition:
     
  14. The ASC dean, in consultation with the faculty, will periodically review the faculty diversity plan, assess its effectiveness, and make revisions as appropriate.
8. Moving Forward: Specific Plans for Increasing Faculty Diversity

As noted above, without additions ASC would have 18 active standing faculty members by June 30 2013.

Future Searches: Given current financial resources and our teaching and service needs ASC is likely to hire two to four new faculty members over the next three years. The goals of these searches will be hiring new faculty members who first and foremost maintain and add to ASC’s reputation as the leading Communication program in the world, and that fill substantive and methodological areas deemed central by the ASC faculty.

Given our firm belief that meeting these goals will be significantly aided by increasing our diversity in the various ways described in this document, our strong commitment to diversity as a social justice issue, and the importance of diversity issues as a subject of social inquiry, future searches will emphasize the hiring of faculty that add to our eminence through their demographic, cultural, methodological, and intellectual diversity, and/or through teaching and research interests that focus on the intersection of communication and diversity (e.g., race and ethnicity, gender, class, economic equality, sexual identification, globalization, etc.).

9. Diversity Resources

ASC will take maximum advantage of the resources provide by the University as described in Penn’s Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence. In addition, ASC will commit its own resources to initiatives aimed at increasing the eminence of our faculty through diversity (in the various ways described above), including:

  • The strategic use of new post-doctoral fellowships to identify and help develop potential candidates for faculty positions at ASC and elsewhere.
  • Cost sharing for existing ASC post-doctoral fellowships currently supported by grants and specified endowments.
  • Attracting, developing and retaining eminent faculty through start-up funds, housing support, release time, and so forth.
  • Holding a yearly Fontaine Lecture/Colloquium at ASC, led by ASC Fontaine scholars.
  • Holding ASC Center, faculty, or graduate student-led workshops and conferences addressing issues of communication and diversity.
  • Cosponsoring events with the Africana Studies Program.
  • Implementing other proposals outlined above regarding faculty pipeline issues, searches, mentoring, professional development, and retention.
10. Conclusion

Increasing faculty eminence through diversity is a priority for normative, intellectual, and practical reasons. Doing so requires a strategy, resources and will. The action plan described in this document outlines the specific steps we have and intend to take towards achieving this goal, and the resources we plan to devote to these efforts. But it also signals our collective will to address this important and pressing issue.

  1While ultimate responsibility for this plan belongs to the ASC dean, the year-long process for developing it was iterative, collaborative and deliberative. Specifically it involved the following steps: (1) the ASC dean wrote an initial draft; (2) the draft was discussed and critiqued by the ASC Faculty Executive Committee; (3) a second draft was produced by the dean and reviewed by the Executive Committee; (4) the second draft was discussed and critiqued by the ASC standing faculty, the ASC Graduate Student Council (with input from other graduate students), the Provost’s Office, and Penn’s Office of General Council; (5) a third and final draft was produced by the dean.
2Unless otherwise noted the use of the term “diversity” in this document is meant to include all of the various dimensions mentioned in this section.
3Includes two new faculty members who will start July 1 2012.Does not include two faculty members scheduled to leave ASC by June 2013, one faculty member who holds a University administrative position and is no longer actively engaged in our program, two Emeritus faculty who still teach one graduate course each a year,and five secondary appointments from other Schools at Penn.
4For obvious reasons we do not collect data on sexual identification.
5The “appropriate” level of interdisciplinarity remains an unsettled issue at ASC. On the one hand, Communication as a field has always drawn from other fields and disciplines, our graduate students often come with majors in fields other than Communication, and it is increasingly clear that understanding most 21st century social issues requires approaching them from a multi-disciplinary perspective. On the other hand, it remains important that ASC faculty approach their research and teaching from a “Communication” perspective, be part of professional research communities within our field, and have the ability and networks to train and place students in academic and non-academic communication jobs. For these reasons we remain open to hiring faculty with degrees other than Communication, but work to assure that such faculty members are committed to Communication as a distinct professional and intellectual discipline.
6The ASC Executive Committee consists of four members of the ASC standing faculty elected to one year terms by the standing faculty. Their role is to represent the faculty in discussions with the dean, serve as an advisory council to the dean and, most relevant to this document, act as the search committee in the hiring of new faculty.
7The new Diversity Search Advisor will expand on but still incorporate all responsibilities formally held by the Affirmative Action Officer position.
8Given the significant responsibilities of this position the dean, in consultation with the ASC faculty,will consider making this appointment for multiple years and providing the Faculty Diversity Advisor with course relief or other compensation.
9The current dean is making this commitment for the remaining three years of his term, and will recommend it as a process to the future dean, though it will be up to the new dean to determine what his/her role in this regard should be.
10See endnote 7.
11See endnote 8.