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It's All For You! 

From Diversity and Equity Newsletter in the University Daily Kansan, April 4, 2019
(click on image to access full document in PDF form)


To attract and retain a faculty and staff more representative of our diverse constituency:
A Top Priority

From Diversity and Equity Newsletter, February 4, 2019


KU demographic trends mostly mirror those of other major research institutions. In other words, most major research universities have an under-representation of African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders among either their student bodies, faculty, and staff, if not all of the above. In 2016, American Indian/Alaskan Native, African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders at KU were only 101 of 1,149 tenure-track faculty and librarians, and only 2 of almost 50 faculty administrators (less than 10 percent)[1]. Among our faculty, librarians, and faculty administrators, eight identified as American Indian/Alaskan Native, 40 as Black and African American, and 53 Hispanic/Latinx[2]. Among unclassified academic and professional staff and university support staff, only 319 of approximately 3,500 (less than 10 percent) were historically underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities.  Among these 33 identified as American Indian/Alaskan Native, 143 Black/African American, and 143 Hispanic/Latinx. A similar pattern exists among our student body. In Fall 2017, students who self-reported as part of historically underrepresented racial/ethnic minority categories were approximately 11 percent of KU’s student composition, less than 3,000 of 24,891 undergraduate and graduate students[3].


Centering Diversity and Equity in our Faculty and Staff Recruitment Efforts

These inequities need not persist and we will do better. This year, we are investing greater attention to equity in faculty and staff search and recruitment processes. 

Our Goal

….to increase faculty and staff search pools from less than 10 percent to more than 20 percent by the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. 

To this end, Excellence in Diversity, a newly created handbook, was developed to emphasize greater equity and diversity in our search and recruitment practices. More specifically, it was designed to address persistent unintentional biases that may impact how we approach the production of job ads, the social composition of our hiring pools, and our thinking during the deliberation of each part of the decision-making process. Reviewed by deans, vice provosts, and Human Resource Management, KU is piloting use of the handbook for tenure/tenure-track faculty searches this year. A version of the handbook that focuses on staff is in progress, though units are free to utilize the current version as a resource in the meantime.  Academic units and their respective search committees are highly encouraged to use this draft of Excellence in Diversity as a guide as they move forward with on-going and new recruitment efforts. 

Annie McBride, Director of Projects and Policy Development in the Office of Diversity and Equity will serve as the primary point of contact for all questions and concerns as units move through this pilot year. The Office of Diversity and Equity, Faculty Development, and Human Resource Management will work together to respond to questions, as appropriate. 

You can find the Excellence in Diversity hiring handbook here.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion includes a Healthy Workplace Environment

Healthy work environments are critical to the ability of faculty and staff to meet and exceed their KU role expectations, as well as their individual professional goals. A healthy work environment is one that centers civility, fairness, and equity and assumes a holistic approach to the care and welfare of those who engage within it. A healthy work environment is fundamental to our ability to provide a diverse student body with the support students need to excel inside and outside of the classroom.   

Yet, the maintenance of a healthy work environment is challenged by changes in job demands. Many faculty and staff, for example, report they have experienced increased pressure in job expectations as budget adjustments and strategic hiring plans have impacted personnel and fiscal resources. The shrinking of support and expansion of duties may feel unfair and inequitable as some take on different and more responsibilities than others. Faculty are simultaneously challenged by rising professional demands for the production of scholarly publications, external grant production, and new practices for student learning. 

The maintenance of a healthy work environment is also challenged by our differences in leadership and communication styles, varied levels of understanding and ability to empathize, and the range of knowledge and skill that KU faculty and staff bring to their respective roles. These differences demand we enhance our workplace learning opportunities and accountability practices to provide all KU employees, regardless of role and educational attainment, with a greater ability to meet performance expectations.

Faculty and staff reported that they would like to see greater institutional attention to the workplace environment, in particular matters of civility, collegiality, transparency in decision-making, and greater equity in advancement opportunities (learn more by reading the KU Climate Study here). In addition, as we know, life always finds a way to interrupt work and vice versa. At KU we want our faculty and staff to feel confident that they can do both. Maintaining work-life balance helps reduce stress and lessens workplace burnout and budgetary costs by contributing to a healthier, more productive workforce.

All-in-all, attention to the promotion of a healthier, more equitable and civil work environment is a commitment to those who accept our invitation. We need a healthy work environment if we hope to attract and keep an excellent workforce. Our graduate and undergraduate students deserve the very best that KU has to offer.

Given this, we are dedicating attention to our infrastructure with efforts that will better enable us to support the varied strengths and needs of a multifaceted workforce.

Our Goal

….to see general workplace satisfaction rise over the next 5 years with a concomitant decline in reported negative workplace experiences.  Below is an outline of some of our initiatives… 

Here is what we are doing to facilitate a healthier workplace environment at KU: 

  • The Workplace Improvement Team (KU Provost-WIT). WIT was recently created to focus on collegial and professional workplace environments.  Staff and faculty members have reported concerns about civility in the workplace. The Workplace Improvement Team (WIT) meets regularly to review current workplace practices and to identify patterns of concerns that occur across units and categories of faculty and staff.  Its members include the Offices of Diversity and Equity, Faculty Development, Ombuds, Human Resource Management, Institutional Opportunity and Access, Integrity and Compliance, and General Counsel. WIT coordinates interventions; develops holistic institution-level corrective and pre-emptive protocols that clarify staff, faculty, and supervisory workplace expectations; and centers the practice of fair, collegial and professional conduct in academic, service, and support units. 
  • The Women and Gender Workplace Equity Commission. This commission is being developed to provide oversight, recommendations, and advocacy for policies that improve and maintain gender equity in the workplace.  Despite advancements in salary parity, leave policies, learning and workplace practices issues of gender inequity persist. The commission, which is currently in its formative stage, will offer attention to policies and practices that may impact some groups differently than others. (To learn more about the gender equity report to university senate, click here.) 
  • The Family Friendly Policies and Practices at KU Workgroup. This Provost body recently established to review and provide clarity of policies affecting all employees as they care for themselves and their families so that, as an institution, we better support our faculty, staff, and graduate teaching assistants.
  • Support Pathway: Consultation, Mentorship, and RetentionPathway is a point of contact resource for faculty and staff.  Its purpose is to serve as a source of information and guidance for those navigating professional workplace decisions and experiences related to career success at KU.  Pathway, an Office of Diversity and Equity service, is part of KU’s broader effort to maintain an equitable and inclusive learning and workplace environment. All are welcome, and underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities and those from other marginalized identities are especially encouraged to consider our office as a resource. (For more information about Pathway, click here.
  • Resource, Guidance, and Collaboration for Unit Leadership. The Office of Diversity and Equity consults and works collaboratively with unit leadership on immediate and long-term diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. Our staff work to identify, publicize, and try to replicate what departments, programs and centers are doing well, and work to coordinate efforts and events that collaboratively benefit students.
  • Social and Professional Support Networks. We continue to host and support the Council of Councils, a collaboration between the Office of Diversity and Equity and the Asian and Asian American, Black, Latinx, Native American, Sexuality and Gender Diversity, and newly formed Faculty and Staff Council for Disability Inclusion to offer a more supportive work environment and professional development opportunities.
  • International Faculty and Staff Network. The Office of Diversity and Equity is in the process of building an International Faculty and Staff Network. International faculty and staff experiences suggest that we must do more to support this group at KU. Specifically, this network will provide newcomers and longtime international faculty and staff opportunities to meet, share information, and build community at the start and throughout their KU experience.

Many have expressed interest in the Faculty and Staff Council for Disability Inclusion. This is our newest council and it was created to promote, recommend, and advocate for a climate of full inclusion across all aspects of life at KU and beyond.  It is critical because, sadly, we often overlook the breadth of disabilities among us and primarily focus on those that are visible, paying little attention to those less apparent. I have diabetes for example, a health concern that few realize is part of the spectrum of disabilities.  I encourage you to consider participating in this new council, whether or not you have a disability.  The council welcomes allies and all those who support efforts to educate our community for change. The council meets monthly to discuss disability issues, provide resources and expertise, and advocate for ability status as an integral component of diversity and develop policies to further advance the goal of full inclusion of individuals with disabilities. For contact information, visit our faculty and staff councils page here. 

Don’t worry, we have not forgotten the students. Their experience is an Office of Diversity and Equity priority that will be the focus of our next newsletter. In the meantime, watch for occasional announcements about our newest resources, Jayhawk Student One Stop, Undocumented Student Resources, our educatonal campaign focused on pronouns for the Student Profile Project, and more.


Jennifer Hamer
Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity