Two years into a much-ballyhooed faculty diversity initiative, Yale has recruited 50 new faculty members as part of the five-year, $50-million initiative.

In a faculty-wide email on Wednesday, University Provost Benjamin Polak and Deputy Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity Richard Bribiescas announced that 26 new faculty appointments were made last year using money from the $50-million fund. The money goes toward the salaries of professors hired through the initiative and pays for other University programs designed to build diversity. In addition to the new faculty members, 11 new presidential visiting fellows will research and teach at Yale this year thanks to the initiative.

Over the past two years, new faculty members or fellows have joined all 13 of the University’s graduate and professional schools through the diversity program, according to Bribiescas.

“We didn’t know what the uptake would be, we didn’t know how many people we would be able to support this way [or] how the deans would respond,” Polak told the News. “We didn’t know quite what to expect, but if we did, this would have exceeded our expectations.”

The Provost’s Office has final say over faculty appointments, but deans may nominate scholars to be hired through the program. An added benefit of having this money is that it opens more conversations between the deans and the Provost’s Office about deans’ needs and expectations, Polak said.

The yearly Presidential Visiting Fellows Program attracts early-career academics, who will likely seek ladder faculty positions in the future, as well as established scholars, who are unlikely to leave their institutions. Marisol Orihuela LAW ’08, one of 10 fellows who came to Yale last year, stayed at Yale Law School after the program ended to teach in two clinics. Orihuela has since joined the Law School faculty.

Angel Nieves, a visiting fellow from Hamilton College, said Yale’s program is special because it looks beyond the 100 or so most active research universities for talents.

Nieves, who has been involved in diversity initiatives across different academic institutions, said Yale needs to make tangible efforts to retain diverse faculty members and to encourage further hiring after the five-year plan expires.

Polak, who has two daughters, said hiring women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is an essential piece of the program. Hiring more women in STEM has the potential to greatly improve the field because half of the world’s talent is female, he said.

“It is important for Yale and for the world to hire excellent and diverse faculty,” Polak said. “We want to have role models. We want great talents to push back the boundary of knowledge.”

Bribiescas said Yale is collaborating with peer institutions to bolster its diversity across the academy. While brainstorming the initiative three years ago, he said, the Provost’s Office studied similar programs at Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, asking colleagues at those schools for advice as Yale crafted its own program.

Yale’s faculty diversity initiative was announced in November 2015.

Jingyi Cui |