Anthropology Department chair Richard Bribiescas will serve as the first deputy provost for faculty development and diversity at the University.
In an announcement published this week, Provost Benjamin Polak said Bribiescas would fill this newly formed position, which will be responsible for helping recruit and promote faculty, providing advice for tenure and appointment processes and leading the development of a University-wide faculty diversity initiative. Although Bribiescas will not formally step into the role until January 2015, the announcement stated he would immediately begin advising the provost on matters regarding faculty development and diversity. Although faculty and students interviewed applauded Bribiescas’ appointment, some cautioned that the responsibilities of the role will be challenging.
“The Yale leadership and I share a vision that a University cannot truly fulfill their potential for excellence without diversity and equity,” Bribiescas said in an email. “My primary challenge will be to continue and expand on these efforts, build on our successes, learn from our mistakes and move forward to insure that we draw from a diverse pool of scholars to continue our history of excellence.”
Bribiescas added that while there were many faculty qualified to serve in this position, he was honored to be selected and is prepared to take on the responsibilities of the role. He said his primary goals will be to promote and support faculty excellence, diversity and gender equity.
The position of deputy provost for faculty development and diversity was created following the February 2014 recommendation issued by the Yale Diversity Summit Visiting Committee, a group of educators, physicians and researchers tasked with advising the Yale administration.
The report urged the administration to create a deputy provost post whose principal responsibility is to oversee faculty diversity. The report further stated that this deputy provost should be experienced in “the area of diversity” and have resources to facilitate recruitment across the University.
Faculty and students interviewed said they supported the creation of this new role and that Bribiescas was qualified to serve as its inaugural leader.
“I think the appointment of a deputy provost for faculty development and diversity signals the high importance Yale places on these issues,” professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry Karla Neugebauer said. “The whole community is looking forward to the leadership and creativity of Dr. Bribiescas.”
Bribiescas has a strong track record of promoting all aspects of excellence, including diversity, in recruiting and mentoring faculty in his department, Polak said in an email.
Political science professor Frances Rosenbluth, who served as deputy provost for social sciences and for faculty development and diversity, said Bribiescas has proved himself as a leader as chair of the Anthropology Department. She said his familiarity with the sciences is particularly valuable because the attrition rate of women in lab intensive fields is a major concern.
Polak noted that while the responsibilities now under Bribiescas had been part of a larger portfolio of deputy provosts, he wanted to devote a position fully to these important issues.
Rosenbluth added that his largest responsibility is not to “stack the decks” for women and minorities, but to make sure the decks have not already been stacked against them. More specifically, she said, he will ensure that diversity recommendations are thoroughly practical and advisably implemented.
The ability to make strategic faculty hires that would help diversify our faculty and add intellectual diversity is essential, said astronomy and physics professor and former Women Faculty Forum chair Priyamvada Natarajan.
“I think this new position needs to be vested with power to effect change and implement innovative initiatives,” she said.
Assistant Provost for Science and Technology Robert Burger said that as chair of the department, Bribiescas made strides in promoting diversity internally.
Dorsa Amir GRD ’19, who co-wrote a paper with Bribiescas, said he earned the respect of the faculty after steering the department through post-recession budget cuts.
Bribiescas has been a member of the Yale faculty since 1998.