Faculty Recruitment and Retention Focus of Discussion

4/15/2014
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Dartmouth is committed to recruitment and retention of minority and underrepresented faculty, but the College is not doing as well at “winning the game” in the competition with other top-flight institutions vying to hire from this talented pool of scholars and teachers, says Michael Mastanduno, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences.

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Joseph Helble, dean of Thayer School of Engineering, at left, and Michael Mastanduno, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, lead the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” session on April 14. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00 )

Mastanduno and Joseph Helble, dean of Thayer School of Engineering, cohosted the fifth session in the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” series, focused on faculty recruitment and retention. The discussion, part of an ongoing series that aims to give community members an opportunity to discuss and contribute to the initiatives of President Phil Hanlon ’77, was held Monday, April 14, from noon to 1 p.m. in 105 Dartmouth Hall. A second session was held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Fahey Ground Floor Lounge.

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Part of the challenge for Dartmouth, Mastanduno says, arises from the fact that the College’s criteria for recruitment are built at “the very ambitious intersection” of large research universities and small liberal arts colleges. Faculty must be both inspired teachers and accomplished scholars, he said.

This narrows the overall pool. Then add variables such as a cost of living in Hanover that is 32 percent higher than the national average, and the fact that Dartmouth has a relatively small cohort of faculty in a given field of study, and prospective hires have a lot to weigh when considering a job at Dartmouth, Helble said.

One of the ways Thayer has addressed the issue of “critical mass” in a field of study, says Helble, is to focus on “outward-looking problem areas” such as engineering and medicine or emerging energy technology that cut across departmental boundaries.

In the same way, Mastanduno says, President Hanlon’s “cluster initiative,” which encourages scholarly and academic collaboration across disciplines, also addresses the problem of critical mass within a particular candidate’s field of interest.

Donna Hay from the admissions office at the Tuck School of Business pointed to the number of students and alumni attending the session Monday to underscore how important the issue of minority recruitment is to the Dartmouth community. What is the College doing beyond “checking the boxes?” she asked.

Mastanduno said that ultimately, policy makers and administrators can only encourage, but cannot tip the balance toward increased minority faculty representation. It is up to committed and active faculty members within a department to develop the pool of candidates and to foster an environment that will attract and keep talented minority scholars and teachers, he said.

Aimee Bahng, an assistant professor in the English department, raised the issue of the important mentoring and advising role minority professors play on campus with individuals and student groups. Will the College, she asked, weigh this service in awarding tenure?

Service is and should be a factor in tenure, Mastanduno said, but it cannot supersede research and teaching. At the same time, the College and faculty members involved in the tenure review process must recognize the import mentoring role of minority faculty and “help them find boundaries,” so that research and teaching does not suffer.

Videos of the sessions are available on the Dartmouth YouTube channel, and members of the community can also join the discussion through the Improve Dartmouth website.

The next session will be held Tuesday, April 22, on the topic of “Addressing Sexual Assault at Dartmouth.” The community discussion will be led by Robert Donin, Dartmouth’s general counsel; Charlotte Johnson, dean of the College; and Leigh Remy, director of the Office of Undergraduate Judicial Affairs. The first session, also with a live webcast, will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Hood Museum of Art Auditorium, located on the lower level of the museum. The second session will take place from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Fahey Lounge in Fahey Hall.

The “Moving Dartmouth Forward” sessions will continue into the spring; each session takes take place from noon to 1 p.m., and again from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted. Below is the full schedule of the sessions, with presenters for each one.

  • April 22: Addressing Sexual Assault at Dartmouth Presenters: Robert Donin, general counsel; Charlotte Johnson, dean of the College; and Leigh Remy, director of the Office of Undergraduate Judicial Affairs NOTE: Evening session is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
  • April 28: Arts and Innovation Presenters: Trip Davis, executive director of the Office of Entrepreneurship & Technology Transfer; and Adrian Randolph, associate dean of the faculty of arts and humanities and the Leon E. Williams Professor of Art History.
  • May 12: Global Learning Experiences Presenters: Lynn Higgins, associate dean of the faculty for international and interdisciplinary studies; and Lindsay Whaley, associate provost for international initiatives.