Faculty Diversity Matters: Unleashing Opportunities to Develop a Sense of Belonging
to Hostos Community College grounded in our Faculty Intellectual Diversity
Nelson Nunez Rodriguez, Professor
OAA Diversity Fellow
A series of six conversations about faculty tenure, reappointment and promotion has been held during the Spring 2017 between departmental/college wide P&B members, recently tenured and promoted faculty and faculty members seeking tenure and promotion. The OAA diversity fellow designed this series of conversations to address the preparation, needs, and questions of faculty at each stage of their professional journeys at Hostos. These dialogues intended to provide strategies and best practices for meeting the established standards and expectations while developing an authentic professional identity at Hostos. The proposed conversations included: Faculty Evaluation Guidelines: A General Conversation; Awakening Your Passion; Checkpoint with the Provost at 4th year; Tenure Portfolios, Road to Promotion and Road to Sabbatical or Fellowship Leave. This series is derived from faculty suggestions shared in The COACHE survey conducted in 2014. Furthermore, some faculty members have met the Diversity fellow on individual base, as they have been unable to attend these conversations. Overall, 12-15 faculty members have attended each conversation. Indeed, some P&B members have remained in contact with faculty attendees addressing specific concerns.
The OAA Diversity fellow took notes during all conversations as a way to document dialogue ideas. These notes, as wells as, follow-up emails and comments from the audience during and after the session showed participants found this initiative helpful and clarifying. Overall, it brings attention on the need to reinforce faculty expectations beyond the new faculty orientation provided during the first year and the demand to explore new ways to systematize communication between OAA and departments regarding faculty tenure and promotion expectations. In this regard, many faculty members still need help shaping their current activities as a service to the department, institution and the community. They also require additional help capitalizing their class intervention and transforming it into authentic curriculum development and publications in pedagogy. Several conversations also pointed out aspects of collegiality, email protocol, building professional relations with colleagues inside and outside the department and with the chairperson, and how and when they should ask for reference letters for the tenure and promotion processes. The dialogue also uncovered that several faculty in the first years of reappointment need clarity regarding the departmental and college wide P&B composition and how they are evaluated. As many faculty members in the 7-year tenure track clock are producing robust scholarship, many of them requested additional information regarding the promotion clock. Further conversations are needed to clarify, mainly at departmental level, the concrete requirement for promotion applications and how the sabbatical leave should be planned strategically to develop robust credentials for promotion if this fellowship award is going to be used with this purpose. Furthermore, the faculty conversation revolving around sabbatical leave share insightful ways to use the sabbatical leave to enhance your scholar identity while reinforcing your sense of belonging to Hostos institution.
All together, this series uncovers the need to systematize this conversation by creating a structured mentoring system. This framework will help faculty to draft a meaningful tenure track road map that integrates their teaching, service and scholarship development while taking advantages of their specific skills and expertise. Thus they we have opportunity to leave a legacy in their institution rooted in their teaching and scholar identities. At a more intellectual level, the conversations presented opportunities to elevate the dialogue from just putting together a faculty portfolio into a professorial conversation based on our rich faculty intellectual diversity and the myriad of opportunities they have to create a Hostos professional identity and sense of belonging to this institution.