Faculty Hiring and Bias

We have spent the last year redesigning our approach to faculty hiring.  We have done this for a variety of reasons, but front and center has been our effort to look for candidates who understand equity in the classroom and who will support equity-mindedness in instruction.  We know that our current faculty understand the diverse needs of our students, so we want to ensure that our new faculty are hired with that equity lens at the outset.

You may think that we’ve gone overboard in some of our redesign – mandating equity training for every member of every full-time faculty hiring committee, for instance.  But have we?

This article in Inside Higher Ed reminds us that we often make hiring decisions that reflect unconscious biases and unexamined definitions of “fit”.  While the article and the study aren’t about community college faculty searches, they can still serve as a cautionary tale, reminding us to examine our frames of reference and hold each other accountable for the ways in which we use “merit” or “fit” to justify hiring faculty who look like us or think like us.

As we move into the second year of this very intentional focus on how we advertise for, interview, and hire faculty, we will be looking in particular at our adjunct faculty hiring processes.  If you have suggestions for best practices in the hiring of adjunct faculty – particularly in light of the college’s equity-minded approach – please send them my way.

After all, hiring faculty is the most important thing that we do in support of our mission and our students.  So let’s do it to the best of our collective abilities.