Mellon Grant Supports Pilot Programs for Faculty Diversity

When the Office of the Provost released its report on faculty diversity and inclusion during winter term, it identified several areas in which Dartmouth seeks to increase minority representation on the faculty to 25 percent by 2020—up from 16 percent, a target set by Provost Carolyn Dever last year.


Professor Lisa Baldez, the director of the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, speaks during a workshop on disrupting implicit bias in the classroom. The workshop was supported by the Mellon Foundation grant and run by the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

With a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the College is implementing several projects to spur these changes. The grant provides $141,000 to be spent by Nov. 30, 2016, for programmatic innovations in how the College identifies, recruits, and supports talented underrepresented scholars. 

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Report on Faculty Diversity Is Released

“This grant is helping us quickly develop pilots that reach across campus,” says Denise Anthony, vice provost for academic initiatives. “These initiatives will accelerate engagement of the faculty and senior administration in an intensive effort to recruit greater numbers of underrepresented minority faculty and to strengthen the development of all faculty.”

Building the Pipeline

The grant will facilitate faculty connections with underrepresented minority scholars around the country. Beginning this winter, it will fund campus visits for up to seven fellows of leading national fellowship programs for minority doctoral students.

The goal, says Anthony, is for departments to hear about the work of promising new scholars—and for those candidates to experience Dartmouth firsthand.

The College is also assessing Dartmouth’s own dissertation fellowship programs: the César Chávez, Charles A. Eastman, and Thurgood Marshall Dissertation Fellowships, which support underrepresented minority scholars and other graduate scholars with a demonstrated commitment and ability to advance educational equity.

“As national conversations about faculty diversity have reached a particular intensity, these programs are more important than ever to support scholars’ transition from graduate school into the professoriate,” says Michelle Warren, a professor of comparative literature and coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program, who is a faculty advocate and partner in the grant’s implementation. “Through this study, we’re asking ourselves: What could we be doing to make them more effective?”

The Office of the Provost will also add to funds provided by the Mellon Foundation to pilot the Chávez Fellowship as a two-year postdoctoral position supporting a scholar whose research address aspects of Latino/a experience and culture.

“The Chávez Fellowship has had a record of success in bringing emerging Latina/o studies scholars to campus to make progress on finishing their doctoral dissertations,” says Israel Reyes, an associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese who serves on the selection committee for the Chávez Fellowship. “Many of the former fellows are now distinguished professors in their fields, a good number of them have received tenure, and some are directing institutes and chairing their departments.”

Reyes says shifting the program to a postdoctoral fellowship “presents opportunities and challenges.” While he hopes the College will continue to support doctoral candidates in completing their dissertations, “a two-year postdoctoral fellowship will allow the fellow to make significant progress on their scholarship and will help to better integrate her or him into the Dartmouth intellectual community. The fellow will also have an opportunity to engage with the Society of Fellows.”  

Recruiting Talented Scholars

Through the grant, the College has created a yearlong pilot to enhance the faculty search process. Pilot search committees were active this fall and winter, and departments are currently making offers to candidates, says Warren. Committee participants attended workshops on strategies to ensure greater equity in the search process.

“A lot of the things that counteract potential bias are simple changes of procedure that help people better manage complex decision-making”—from scheduling votes separately from lengthy meetings to using anonymous ballots for voting and providing the same information to all finalists, Warren says. “Every aspect of the search has an impact on diversity, inclusion, and retention—from the way you draft the ad to the way you vote to how you negotiate the job offer.”

The goal, she says, is to build equity in every part of the hiring process for all faculty.

“The pilot is about having deep, detailed conversations with departments about the entirety of their process,” she says. “How can we make high-stakes decisions while also promoting a sense of equity and inclusion for both current and future faculty?”

Developing Faculty to Thrive

Another pilot program aims to improve how faculty members are mentored.

The grant will fund training for department chairs and deans through the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, and will help develop a pilot mentoring program.

“A number of studies in the past decade find that programs that use a network or peer model of mentoring are more effective and supportive for faculty than older models that use the one-to-one mentor-protégé format,” says Anthony. “The network model recognizes that every faculty member has something both to teach and to learn, and that their needs will shift as they move through their career.”

The grant also supports professional development workshops through the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) for faculty to learn practical techniques for disrupting implicit bias in the classroom. DCAL is also creating a web page of resources about disrupting implicit bias.

“Research shows that bias in the classroom gets in the way of learning,” says Lisa Baldez, director of DCAL and a professor of government and of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies. “If you address issues about bias in the classroom, you can enhance the learning environment for everybody.”

The workshops will focus on techniques that faculty can implement immediately. 

“Some specific classroom techniques are, on their face, pretty simple,” Baldez says. “For example, instead of calling on people in a classroom discussion, use a round-robin style so you’re not waiting for people to raise their hands. That takes out the bias about who gets called on and who feels confident enough to speak, because everybody has to speak.”

The first workshop, “Ten Things You Can Do to Disrupt  Bias in the Classroom” took place Feb. 10. On May 17, as part of the series, Anthony will lead a discussion of the book Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People, by psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, co-developers of Harvard’s Implicit Association Test. Dates for future workshops will be announced soon.

In addition, the third “Leading Voices in Higher Education” lecture is scheduled for April 20. Armando Bengochea, program officer and director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will give a talk titled “The Pipeline Is Us: And Other Reflections About Diversifying the Professoriate” at 4:30 pm in Filene Auditorium.

These initiatives are just the beginning, says Anthony. “We must make sure that Dartmouth is not only diverse in numbers, but also a place where all members of the community fully belong and can thrive.”