Alisia Pan

Yale’s Faculty Excellence and Diversity Initiative, a University-wide effort to recruit and retain a diversity of professors, will be renewed for an additional five years with a $35 million boost to its budget.

The initiative, created in late 2015, dedicated millions of dollars to make competitive offers to tenure-track faculty members that can “enrich the excellence and diversity” of the University, according to its website. Among other causes, the fund also provides slots for roughly 10 Presidential Visiting Fellows every year. The initiative has brought over 80 professors to the University and attracted a number of doctoral students through the Dean’s Emerging Scholars program. With the additional monetary commitment, the program’s budget will grow from $50 million to a total of $85 million.

University President Peter Salovey said in his community-wide email last month that Yale expanded the initiative due to its success.

“We are making an emphatic statement about our commitment to recruiting the most distinguished scholars, who will help diversify Yale, transform their fields, create knowledge to improve the world, and inspire our students to lead and serve all sectors of society,” he wrote.

Faculty diversity has become a key issue for the University in recent years. In 2016, Salovey called the lack of minority representation among professors Yale’s “single biggest problem.” According to the Office of Institutional Research, there are roughly two male ladder faculty members in the FAS for every female — meaning that there are nearly 200 more men than women in such positions.

Still, the initiative has made efforts to diversity Yale’s faculty. In the past few years, the Office of the Provost’s Faculty Development & Diversity team has instructed search committees on how to avoid implicit bias while seeking new faculty members as part of FEDI. This office has also established guidelines to creating inclusive candidate pools and to helping women academics improve their negotiation skills.

Diversity efforts — especially those spearheaded by the initiative — contribute to a more dynamic, representative university environment, said Larry Gladney, who is the FAS Dean of Diversity and Faculty Development. For one, he wrote, students often perform better “where they see more of themselves reflected in the faculty teaching and mentoring them.” Other advantages include broadened classroom discussions, improvements in scholarship and exposure to demographics that more closely match life outside of college, he added.

In an email to the News, University Provost Scott Strobel wrote that the initiative’s 2015 implementation was “an experiment that has proven quite successful.” Now, along with a five-year extension and a larger budget, Strobel and his team have made certain changes to “further strengthen” the initiative. Tenure-track junior hires can expect up to half-salary support for three years through the initiative; tenured recruits can receive the same support for up to five years, he wrote.

The budget expansion will also provide money for new research groups through the Science Development Fund, according to the YaleNews article. With monetary support for lab equipment and postdocs, the initiative could help bolster the University’s efforts to court senior faculty members in the sciences and engineering fields.

The renewal could also prove helpful for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and its continued push to increase its ladder faculty size to roughly 700. According to FAS Dean Tamar Gendler, the initiative’s resources help her team make competitive offers to faculty who could bring “diversity and excellence” to the FAS. These offers, she added, could include support to help launch the New Haven career of a new hire’s spouse or partner as well as funding to allow the new faculty member to organize workshops or conferences in their field of expertise.

“We are delighted to learn of the continuation and expansion of the FEDI program,” she wrote. The initiative has placed new faculty members across the University, from the FAS to the Yale Divinity School.

According to Gladney, additional diversity efforts are ongoing. Once its charge is officially issued, the President’s Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion could deliver “game-changing recommendations for the campus on how to better achieve the diverse and inclusive environment we want for faculty, students and staff,” he said.

Nearly two-thirds of all Yale ladder faculty identify as white, according to demographics from the Faculty Development & Diversity team.

Matt Kristoffersen | matthew.kristoffersen@yale.edu