LB Brown
Lawrence “LB” Brown, Pharm.D, Ph.D, professor of pharmaceutical economics and policy and presidential advisor on faculty diversification at Chapman University.

Chapman’s Faculty Diversification Initiative Focused on Recruiting Outstanding Diverse Faculty Members

Chapman University created the Faculty Diversification Initiative (FDI) in 2020 as part of its commitment to diversifying the Chapman faculty. The initiative creates a focused funding and recruitment process to identify and employ outstanding minority faculty members, with the goal of hiring two to three new diverse faculty members per year.

“The Chapman student population continues to get more diverse, and to meet the needs of those students it is important to have a more diverse faculty,” said Lawrence “LB” Brown, Pharm.D, Ph.D, professor of pharmaceutical economics and policy and presidential advisor on faculty diversification at Chapman University. “Outstanding, diverse faculty also bring unique additions to research, course offerings, pedagogy and the creative arts. Since Chapman has fewer Black faculty than we do Hispanic or Latinx faculty, the initial focus has been on hiring Black faculty.”

In 2014, Joe Slowensky, vice president for institutional effectiveness and faculty advancement at Chapman, headed a series of 14 diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) task forces to observe DEI-related issues through a variety of lenses. The work of these groups and their recommendations became the basis of Chapman’s Strategic Plan for DEI; among the five goals of the plan was recruitment.

Brown was part of the group. “We shared the findings from that group with faculty search committees to educate them about DEI and to find pathways to help diverse faculty overcome barriers, such as stereotyping,” said Brown. “The goal was to increase the number of minority faculty members getting hired, but we weren’t seeing the numbers increase very much.”

Though the search committee found some outstanding prospective faculty members of diverse representation, competition from several other institutions cut final negotiations short before the prospective faculty members could join Chapman. 

It was clear: Additional funding would be required to be competitive when recruiting outstanding faculty. 

“So many departments had excellent minority candidates, but they didn’t have enough money to out-negotiate other institutions,” added Brown.

The situation began to shift following a conversation between Brown and Chapman University President Daniele C. Struppa that sparked the game-changing initiative.

“We wanted to create a program that enables us to have a focused directive to increase the number of diverse faculty members,” said Struppa. “It was clear that this was an easy initiative to enthusiastically support.”

Chapman’s Board of Trustees approved $1.5 million to fully or partially fund the hiring of these diverse faculty members.

“This is an extra fund of money for faculty lines that are above what a unit already has allocated, so units are still able to use their normal hiring process for the lines they have allocated,” said Brown.

“We put a stipulation into the faculty line that the money was tied to that new hire, to ensure that if a faculty member left, the money and line would go back to the FDI budget, rather than staying with the unit,” said Brown. “This has made the program extremely successful. Of all the faculty we brought in, all are still here. But if any do leave Chapman, this would allow the FDI to reuse the money and line to bring in another outstandingly qualified diverse faculty member.”

The Faculty Diversification Initiative has resulted in the hiring of six fully funded faculty, three partially funded faculty and one postdoctoral researcher.

“All of the fully funded hires were initially recommended by the dean of the school or were vetted with the dean,” said Brown. “After the dean, the FDI target hire was vetted with the department chair, and then with the faculty. Only then did contract negotiations begin and a hire offer was made. It was important that there was buy-in at all the levels. The partially funded faculty went through the normal search process, and then the dean requested some supplemental funds to help seal the deal.”

“We want to bring our faculty in and have them here long term,” added Brown. “But to do that, it is important to have a Chapman culture that allows diverse faculty to feel welcomed, included and valued. After all, isn’t that what we all expect?”

Paul Pe

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