Advancing Faculty Diversity

Dec 30, 2016 Diane Nelson
CA&ES faculty will grow in both numbers and diversity in 2017.

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Research shows that students and science benefit when higher education maintains a diverse faculty.
The UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has received a $600,000 grant from the University of California Office of the President to advance faculty diversity in higher education. The award will boost college efforts already in place to attract and retain faculty from under-represented minorities.

“This will help us build on college-based commitments and substantial campus-wide investments to improve recruitment, mentoring, development, career satisfaction, and opportunities for non-majority faculty members,” said Dean Helene Dillard, chief academic and administrative leader for UC Davis’ founding college.

The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is recruiting 30 new faculty for the current academic year. In the past four years, the college has hired 75 new faculty (59 professors and 16 specialists in Cooperative Extension.) Approximately half the new hires were women.

Lack of faculty diversity in both gender and minority ethnic groups is an issue throughout higher education, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. With the 2016-17 budget allocation, the Office of the President received $2 million from the state to support equal opportunity in faculty employment and invest in programs to attract more faculty from historically underrepresented backgrounds. UCOP reviewed several proposals from nine campuses and selected three for funding—one each from UC Riverside, UC San Diego, and UC Davis.

“The winning proposals were from divisions that were poised to make progress and already had a culture in place to foster diversity and inclusion,” said UC Vice Provost Susan Carlson. 

UC Davis was ranked number one in 2016 on the Forbes Magazine list of 13 most important STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) universities for women, and is on a trajectory to earn the designation of “Hispanic Serving Institution” by the U.S. Department of Education. In recent years, UC Davis has advanced its Latina representation on its STEM faculty by 50 percent, a five-fold increase over the national average of 10 percent.

Dean Dillard herself is an academic pioneer for women of color in science. In 2008, she was named a National Women of Color STEM All Star in recognition of her accomplishments in plant pathology, outreach, and administration. Dillard is grateful for the state contribution to the college’s ongoing efforts to include underserved communities in higher education.

“We value faculty who, regardless of their race and ethnicity, are committed to mentoring and educating students from the broadest cross-section of their communities and countries,” Dean Dillard said. “A diverse faculty better represents our multicultural student body, and is also vital to the success of higher education and to society as a whole.”

Media contact

Diane Nelson
College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences
530-752- 1969
[email protected]

Mary Delany
Executive Associate Dean, College of Environmental Sciences
530-752- 1606
 [email protected]

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