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Support for Faculty Candidates

Demonstrating Interest in and Ability to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Thank you for expressing interest in a faculty position at UC Merced! As one of the preeminent public institutions in the world we value the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion as an integral part of faculty research, teaching, and service. The purpose of this information is to prepare you to write an effective statement on contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to support you in preparing for a campus visit/job interview if invited.

What do we mean by diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Diversity: The variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from differences of culture and circumstance. Such differences include race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geographic region, and more (from UC Regents Policy 4400). Many institutions of higher education focus on groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in top tier research institutions, including women and certain minority groups (including African Americans, Hispanics/Latinxs, and Native Americans).

Equity: As opposed to equality, where everyone receives the same support regardless of circumstance, equity focuses on fair treatment and access to supports and opportunities necessary for advancement and success. Equity acknowledges structural issues and barriers such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and sexual harassment that have prevented the full participation of individuals from marginalized groups.

Inclusion: The proactive effort through personal actions, programs, and policies to ensure that all individuals feel welcome, respected, supported, and valued.

With greater attention to DEI, a sense of belonging can flourish

Belonging: The sense of being accepted and connected to the institution and to people within the institution; being one's authentic self. A sense of belonging means knowing that what one is doing has purpose and meaning to themselves and others.

Advancing equity and inclusion is fundamental to the University of California policy on diversity, which states that, “The University particularly acknowledges the acute need to remove barriers to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of talented students, faculty, and staff from historically excluded populations who are currently underrepresented.”

One way in which UC Merced supports University of California’s commitment to advance diversity, equity and inclusion is by promoting best practices for faculty recruitment. These include broadening the candidate pool, agreeing on criteria to evaluate all applicants before the search begins, guarding against biases in decision making, and treating all candidates respectfully and equitably.

At UC Merced, we believe that our differences — of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, abilities, and more — enhance our capacity to achieve the University of California’s primary mission of research, teaching and public service. UC Merced is proud to serve the most ethnically and culturally diverse student body among all University of California campuses. Because of our diverse student population and our location in the Central Valley, contributions to diversity take on particular importance at UC Merced.

University policy states that a candidate's race, gender, ethnicity or other personal characteristics may not be considered in the evaluation of academic appointments. However, search committees can consider past or proposed contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of the overall review process.

How do we assess your ability to advance equity and inclusion?

UC Merced requires that faculty candidates submit a statement on their past and present contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and future plans for continuing this effort as part of their application for an academic appointment.

According to the University of California Academic Personnel Manual (APM) “In addition to research, teaching, and general professional and public service, service contributions that promote diversity and equal opportunity are encouraged and given recognition in the evaluation of the candidate’s qualifications. Examples include, but are not limited to, developing strategies for the educational or professional advancement of students in underrepresented groups; efforts to advance equitable access and diversity in education; and activities such as recruitment, retention, and mentoring or advising of underrepresented students or new faculty.” -- APM 210-1-d

The purpose of this statement is to showcase your understanding and activities in the areas described below. A typical strong statement is two to three pages in length, and includes specific, detailed examples and descriptions that demonstrate both understanding and actions. Weaker statements tend to be brief, vague, contain little information about the specific role in an activity, or mostly highlight efforts that are already fundamental to a position.

Past Experience:

Describe past experiences or background that has made you aware of challenges faced by historically underrepresented populations. Some faculty candidates may not have substantial past activities. If that is the case, we recommend focusing on future plans in your statement. A more developed and substantial plan is expected for senior candidates.

Past Activities:
Past activities may include
  • Mentoring Activities: If you mentored students, postdocs, staff or faculty from underrepresented groups, describe the specific context and objective of the mentoring, including your personal efforts. Include details that may be relevant, including the number of people who benefited, duration, and outcomes (i.e., success and progress of mentees during and after mentoring, including employment, educational success, etc).
  • Committee Service: If you served on a committee or board that focused on diversity, equity, climate and/or inclusion, describe the committee’s accomplishments and your role in helping achieve them. Include your position on the committee, its duration, and other relevant details.
  • Research Activities: If any of your past research effort specifically contributed to diversity, equity and inclusion, describe the work and any impact or positive outcomes it has had on the university or broader community.
  • Other Activities (e.g. recruitment/retention/teaching/community): Describe the activity and its context (e.g. a specific conference or organization, student retention or outreach activity, course development to reach a specific group, outreach to a local school, or work with a diversity-related non-profit). What was your role and personal effort? How did these activities relate to campus needs?

Planned Activities:

Gather information on activities you would like to pursue while at UC Merced and how they might fit into the research area, department, campus, or national context. You may consider but are not restricted to current or ongoing campus activities. For each proposed activity, describe the role you envision having and what you would like to accomplish in the next two to five years. Who would you like to engage in your efforts, and how would you plan to engage them? Be as specific as possible, but realistic in terms of your effort and time commitment.

We may evaluate faculty candidates in three main areas: 

  1. Awareness of and ability to articulate understanding regarding diversity broadly conceived, and historical, social, and economic factors that influence the underrepresentation of particular groups in academia. Life experience may be an important aspect of this understanding.
  2. A track record, calibrated to career stage, of engagement and activity related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Demonstration requires specific details about these activities, including goals, strategies, and outcomes, as well as information about the role played. Strong evidence typically consists of multiple examples of action from undergraduate through current career stage.
  3. Specific, concrete goals, plans, and priorities, calibrated to career stage, for engagement on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as a potential faculty member at UC Merced. Ideally these plans involve an awareness of current programs and initiatives already taking place on campus.

Example areas of evidence for demonstrating contributions to advancing equity and inclusion

Knowledge and understanding:

  • Knowledge of, experience with, and interest in dimensions of diversity that result from different identities, such as ethnic, socioeconomic, racial, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and cultural differences.
  • Familiarity with demographic data related to diversity in higher education.
  • Comfort discussing diversity-related issues.
  • Understanding of mentorship power dynamics and personal-professional boundaries between faculty and students.
  • Understanding of the challenges faced by underrepresented individuals, and the need to identify and eliminate barriers to their full and equitable participation and advancement.

Teaching:

  • Teaching, advising, and/or mentoring of students who are under-represented or under-served in higher education.
  • Strategies to create inclusive and welcoming teaching environments for all underrepresented students.
  • Strategies to encourage both critical thinking and respectful dialogue in the classroom.
  • Using new pedagogies and classroom strategies that address different learning styles to advance equity and inclusion.

Research:

  • Inclusive and respectful research environments.
  • Mentoring and supporting the advancement and professional development of underrepresented students or postdocs.
  • Research focused on underserved communities.

Service/professional activities:

  • Outreach activities designed to remove barriers and to increase the participation of individuals from underrepresented groups.
  • Participation in workshops and activities that help build multicultural competencies and create inclusive climates.
  • Supporting student organizations that serve underrepresented groups.
  • Participation with professional or scientific associations or meetings that aim to increase diversity or address the needs of underrepresented students, staff, or faculty.
  • Serving on university or college committees related to equity and inclusion, or preventing sexual harassment and sexual violence.

How to incorporate information about advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion into a campus visit

Some search committees ask candidates to make a formal presentation on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as part of their campus visit, either as part of a job talk, teaching presentation, or as a standalone topic. Such a presentation should be prepared with the same level of consideration as a research presentation.

Candidates may be interviewed by a school Faculty Equity Advisor where they may be asked to discuss their experiences related to equity and inclusion, and specific ideas for contributing at UC Merced in these areas. In other cases candidates discuss these topics with the search committee, and with current graduate students or postdocs.

All candidates should be prepared to demonstrate their ability to make a positive contribution to the climate at UC Merced and to specifically advance equity and inclusion if hired as a faculty member.

How are Statements Considered?

Candidates may be evaluated on their past and/or planned contributions to diversity during the selection process. The search committee, Dean, and Academic Senate will view the Contributions to Diversity Statement in combination with the entire application file.

Once a member of the faculty at UC Merced, contributions to diversity are recognized through the file review process.