Strategic Oversight Committee for Faculty Hiring

The 2012 College of Engineering Draft Strategic Plan sets two specific goals regarding recruitment and retention of faculty.  The percentage of female faculty should increase from 14% to 20%, and the percentage of underrepresented minority faculty should increase from 7% to 10% by 2020.  In addition, the College remains committed to the goal of Cornell's ADVANCE grant of having at least 20% women in each science and engineering department. 

Our commitment to hiring a diverse faculty

To facilitate faculty recruiting that will support these goals, in 2007 the Cornell  Engineering established the Strategic Oversight Committee (SOC) for faculty hiring. This committee’s mission is to help ensure that faculty searches in the College follow best practices for achieving diversity in new faculty hires. The committee will have five members: three senior faculty members, plus the Associate Dean for Diversity, Faculty Recruiting and Mentoring, and the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs.

The committee is advisory to the Dean and will interface with the departmental search committee at three critical stages: (1) search approval, (2) invitations to candidates for interviews, and (3) offer approval. The departmental search committee chair will meet with the SOC prior to each of these three stages and report on specific aspects of the recruiting process.  These meetings are detailed below:

  1. In the summer to early fall time period, requests from department directors/chairs for new faculty searches will be made to the Dean (see the Faculty Search and Startup Request document1).  In parallel, the departmental search committee chair will submit a recruitment plan incorporating key points to the SOC (see Appendix A).   The SOC will make a recommendation to the Dean regarding approval of the search.  In the event of a negative recommendation, the SOC will provide detailed feedback to the departmental search committee chair regarding the elements essential for approval.   If the search is approved, the department director/chair will inform the Dean and SOC about the membership of each search committee.  The search committee members are required to participate in at least one of the search committee training sessions sponsored by the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity.  At the start of the search the departmental search committee will meet with the Associate Dean for Diversity to discuss best practices in interviewing.  The Associate Dean will provide the committee with information and discuss best practices in the context of the particular departmental search.
  2. Prior to extending invitations to interview candidates, the search committee must demonstrate the diversity of the applicant pool to the SOC.  Required elements of this demonstration are detailed in Appendix B. The SOC will provide an assessment of the faculty search process to the departmental search committee, with a particular focus on diversity efforts. As searches continue and further invitations require action, search committees may perform a "running update" with the SOC to facilitate quick action on further invitations.
  3. When the department wishes to make an offer to a faculty candidate, the departmental search committee will provide the SOC with summary information on the diversity of the search, and justify the candidate receiving the offer. The faculty vote must be included.  The SOC will then make a recommendation to the Dean on the approval of the offer.  Offers will not be made to candidates without a recommendation to the Dean by the SOC and approval granted to the department director/chair by the Dean.  The department director/chair will meet separately with the Dean to discuss the candidate before approval is granted.

The College, with assistance from the campus, may be able to provide startup or bridging funds necessary to successfully recruit candidates from an under-represented group. If an exceptional diverse candidate is identified, but his/her expertise is outside of the search area, the College may be able to create a new faculty position if the candidate’s area of expertise is related to the goals of the College’s strategic plan. 

Appendix A: Information required to initiate searches 

When presenting a request to the SOC, the following items will be expected from the Departmental Search Committee (DSC): 

  1. Job description, proposed advertising language, rank and area, along with a five-year departmental search history with gender and URM3 (under-represented minority) breakdown of hires plus interviewed candidates for each previous search.  
  2. A list of Women and URMs in the same field as department at top-30 ranked institutions, separated as senior/post-tenure and junior/ pre- tenure and indicating current institution and contact information. The list may be used to contact some individuals regarding their interest in the position and/or to ask them to help in identifying particularly promising Women and URMs currently in non-faculty positions. The individuals contacted for this particular search should be tracked and noted. 
  3. Describe the department’s plans to actively develop a diverse applicant pool.  At a minimum this should include the advertising plan, and the plan for identifying and contacting potential applicants.   

Appendix B: Demonstration of diversity in applicant pool

Prior to extending invitations to interview candidates, the search committee must document that active efforts were taken to diversify the applicant pool and must demonstrate the diversity of the applicant pool to the SOC. Required elements of this demonstration are: 

1. A running tally of gender and URM breakdown of all applicants  (Note: this is a running tally as a DSC may need to approach the SOC multiple times to request interviewees)

2. Four ranked lists: 

  • top 10 applicants to date
  • top 5 male applicants
  • top 5 female applicants
  • top 5 under-represented minority applications                                              

*It is possible that a desirable candidate will emerge before the interviewing process is complete.  A request to offer can be made at this stage of the search.

*URM refers to all U.S. citizens, either naturalized or permanent residents that have African, Hispanic or Native American heritage.

For each of these ranked applicants, include current position and institution, Ph.D. institution and whether the application was solicited/unsolicited.

In addition to the above data, the DSC Chair (or other representative) should be prepared to answer the following questions if meeting with the SOC in person or provide the answers if submitting a written request:  

  • Where was the position ad posted?  
  • How many applications resulted from the advertisement?  
  • How many applications resulted from individual solicitations?  
  • Who did the DSC contact at peer institutions for recommendations of people to consider? 
  • Who in the department beyond the DSC contributed contacts at other institutions or applicants to consider for the position?
  • What has the DSC done to actively diversify the applicant pool?  
  • What has the DSC done to ensure that the top candidates are diverse?