Public Affairs Schools Form Alliance to Improve Diversity Among Faculty

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A group of six public affairs schools from universities across the country have joined together in an effort to increase diversity among candidate pools for faculty positions, providing a brighter outlook for students, American University announced this week.

The Public Affairs Diversity Alliance will create “a pipeline of candidates for faculty positions” in criminal justice, policy, and public administration with a goal of making candidate pools more diverse and inclusive, according to a spokeswoman for American University, which founded the Alliance. Research shows student outcomes improve when professors mirror their identities. Making the pool of candidates more diverse can bring in faculty members students can identify with, as well as teachers who are concerned about education disparities.

Vicky Wilkins, dean of American University School of Public Affairs (SPA), says diversity in the SPA student body has grown over the last decade and continues to improve. “We want to ensure that we are retaining a diverse set of students who choose to stay in academia as they complete their graduate work, and that those candidates feel a sense of inclusion among their peers,” Wilkins says.

The Alliance is the first of its kind in public affairs to make a commitment to seeking, hiring, and training underrepresented candidates. Each member institution will commit to hiring up to two post-doctoral fellows in the Alliance and will appoint an internal and external mentor to lead networking and professional development efforts. Programming for doctoral students will also help them in their efforts to become successful faculty members.

In addition to American University five other schools have joined: the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, the Price School at the University of Southern California, and the Evans School at the University of Washington.