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Simon’s Rock Continues to Support a Diverse Faculty

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Consortium for Faculty Diversity and other initiatives are making a difference

Bard College at Simon’s Rock’s drive to create a diverse faculty is showing results where they matter most—in the classroom. Recent data from the National Survey of Student Engagement shows that more Simon’s Rock students regularly have serious conversations with individuals of a different race or ethnicity than at most other colleges participating in the Survey.

The College has long recognized that the most dynamic, vibrant intellectual communities are those that represent the broad range of human experience. It is not enough that students from different backgrounds simply co-exist in the same institution. Diversity has to be integrated into the College’s curriculum and co-curricular programming to achieve its full educational benefits. The most effective way to develop such an educational program is to recruit and support a diverse faculty, and that’s exactly what Simon’s Rock is doing.

While it’s typical for one-third of incoming students to come from groups historically underrepresented in higher education, the College’s commitment goes beyond the numbers. Diverse faculty members can be counted on to bring the range of experience and perspective to teaching that’s so crucial to making diversity work. In addition, women and minority faculty members often serve as valued mentors to students from historically underrepresented groups.

The most effective way to develop such an educational program is to recruit and support a diverse faculty, and that’s exactly what Simon’s Rock is doing. Since establishing diversity as a goal in 2001, the College has used the national search process to successfully alter the faculty composition. Over the last decade, the makeup of the Simon’s Rock faculty has steadily shifted: Faculty of color now make up 15% of the overall numbers, a 5% increase, while women faculty have increased by 10%, to 40% of the total.

The College’s efforts to establish a network of support for these faculty members are crucial to bringing them fully into the life of the College. They include a mentoring program that pairs new hires with seasoned Simon’s Rock faculty members, first-year course reductions that help ease the transition into a new environment, and resources that make it easier for individuals to complete research projects.

Joining the Consortium for Faculty Diversity

Another major step in recruiting and supporting a diverse faculty came in 2008 when Simon’s Rock became a member of the Consortium for Faculty Diversity (CFD). CFD connects liberal arts colleges with scholars from historically underrepresented groups who are passionate about teaching. Colleges in the CFD have demonstrated a serious commitment to diversity. Scholars, all in the final phases of completing a terminal degree, hail from the U.S.’s premier research universities. CFD introduces scholars to the institutions where their passion will be valued—small liberal arts colleges like Simon’s Rock.

CFD scholars come for one-year appointments that may evolve into longer-term positions. Professor Francisca Oyogoa applied for a full-time sociology position during her year as a CFD scholar. The strongest candidate in a national search, she is now in a long-term position as a professor of sociology. And CFD isn’t the only avenue through which the College has brought in diverse faculty members. Eden-Renee Pruitt, professor of psychology, was the College’s top candidate in a national search—she just also happened to be a black woman whose research on stereotyping and prejudice would provide that vital curricular component to the College’s diversity initiative.