Syracuse University Boosting Efforts to Increase Faculty Diversity through Enhanced Central Funding, New Hiring Initiative


Syracuse, NY…To bolster faculty diversity, Syracuse University is increasing funding aimed at competitive recruitment of underrepresented faculty members for open positions. The Diversity Opportunity Hires initiative builds on the University’s existing efforts within the signature and cluster hires programs to encourage additional hiring of teaching and research faculty from underrepresented groups.

Recent University initiatives have provided financial incentives to schools and colleges for diversity hiring, including an increased cost share from Invest Syracuse for any cluster hire position filled with a candidate from an underrepresented group. An initial review of hires for the 2019-2020 academic year demonstrates tangible progress in hiring these faculty members. The Office of Faculty Affairs has also created a faculty recruitment, retention and professional development plan, created with input from across the University, that emphasizes diversity, inclusion and support of faculty professional development.

“Faculty diversity and interdisciplinary programs are crucial for the success of all universities. At Syracuse University, we have made significant strides in hiring faculty from underrepresented groups. These new initiatives will ensure continued success in recruiting and retaining top scholars,” says Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost Zhanjiang “John” Liu.

Chancellor Kent D. Syverud

As Chancellor Kent Syverud noted in his winter message, the University needs to accelerate the pace and more strongly incentivize hiring of faculty from underrepresented groups.

Two additional incentives will be provided to departments.

First, the Diversity Opportunity Hires initiative will provide funding for cost-sharing through the Office of Academic Affairs for recruiting underrepresented faculty into open positions across all schools and colleges, including those that are not designated as part of a cluster hire. The initial program will support 10 new positions, with funding split equally between the Office of Academic Affairs and the school or college.

Second, additional central funding is being earmarked to support interdisciplinary cluster hiring when a faculty member from an underrepresented group is hired for the second round of cluster hire positions. For these diversity hires, central funding regularly committed 50 percent of the salary and benefits; schools and colleges covered the rest. With this new initiative, central funds will now cover 70 percent of the total cost for new cluster hires of faculty from underrepresented groups.

Cluster hiring, which involves hiring multiple scholars in at least two schools/colleges in related areas, based on shared, multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary research interests,  was prioritized as part of the launch of the Invest Syracuse Initiative in 2017. A first round of cluster hires was held in 2018; the second round is currently underway.

“The composition of our faculty should reflect our commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility. A diverse faculty signals future possibilities to our underrepresented students and further affirms their presence on campus,” says Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Keith A. Alford. “Diversity brings different perspectives and understandings and inspires new ideas and innovations.”

Hiring diverse faculty members is highly competitive, with top candidates often receiving multiple offers for faculty positions. Syracuse University leaders believe that the ability to successfully hire, retain and develop diverse faculty is critical to the University’s mission.

“The relevance of our research and the quality of innovation and creativity depends on the breadth of diversity among our faculty-scholars,” says Maxwell School Dean David Van Slyke. “University initiatives like these help to ensure that schools and colleges have the resources to attract the most talented faculty while reaffirming our shared commitment to creating a richly diverse academic environment.”

The Office of Academic Affairs will share details of the process for new hires to be considered for these additional funds with deans, directors and department chairs in the coming weeks.