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Emphasizing Diversity in New Hires

October 9, 2013

Michael Bugeja, director,
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication,
Iowa State University of Science and Technology

Currently the Greenlee School has been given approval by our College to search for two hires in media law and “data-rich environments,” which can include public relations and/or advertising.

Like many academic units, we are in the process of rebuilding after years of budget cuts and reversions. Since 2010, we lost several professors to retirement and other opportunities elsewhere. We only hired two in that interim. Attrition alone can skew the numbers of continuing faculty positions when it comes to diversity.

This is why we have to do a commendable job, not only in reaching out to qualified individuals from under-represented groups or including diversity language in our advertisements. We have to make sure that our candidate pool is diverse enough for the searches to go forward.

Ultimately, this is a good thing. No matter how much we may want to make a hire, it is our responsibility to get as much direction as possible to make our searches inclusive and effective.

Our search committees must undergo diversity training. We have sufficient in-house counsel concerning that.

For instance, on Oct. 25, we will dedicate part of our faculty meeting to diversity methods to recruit the best possible candidates to our school. We have invited Robinette Kelley, Iowa State’s director of equal opportunity, to help us achieve that goal.

Joel Geske, an authority on diversity, is also our associate director. He and I attended a campus-wide presentation by our Provost’s office in best practices to emphasize diversity in searches. 

Joel had an observation about questions we could ask candidates concerning diversity. In doing assessment for re-accreditation, he observed, we have to course-map the various standards, including diversity, in curricula.

According to the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, pedagogy should demonstrate an “understanding of gender, race ethnicity, sexual orientation and, as appropriate, other forms of diversity in domestic society in relation to mass communications.” Ergo, Joel says, “we should be able to ask candidates about how they cover diversity in their classes.”

We will also try to demonstrate in past and future searches methods we used “to recruit women and domestic minority faculty and professional staff and, where feasible, recruits international faculty and professional staff”—again, according to ACEJMC standards.

It is one thing to note in an advertisement that women and members of under-represented groups are encouraged to apply. It’s another to ensure that everyone is on board with the spirit and intent of those phrases.

That is what we will be working on until our new hires are on staff in 2014.


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