A new initiative has been launched to make Cal Poly Pomona the employer of choice for faculty members and offer them support at every stage of their career.
The Lifecycle of the Professoriate aligns with the university’s Strategic Plan, which calls for increased recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and the expansion of professional development opportunities, among other goals.
The idea behind the initiative is that faculty success directly correlates with how well students perform, said Iris Levine, dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences and co-chair of the steering committee for the Lifecycle of the Professoriate.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is to create a culture where faculty thrive,” said Levine, who is in her 30th year on campus. “Whether in their second year, year eight, 12 or 20, we want you to be able to say, ‘This is a great place to work,’ that you love working here.”
Among the first steps was the university’s decision to become a member of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD), an online community that provides professional development, training and mentoring for faculty members, postdocs and graduate students. The center provides writing challenges, webinars, a resource library and curriculum assistance for its members, among other benefits.
Martin Sancho-Madriz, associate vice president for faculty affairs and a member of the Lifecycle steering committee, spearheaded the effort to get the university enrolled in the NCFDD and is responsible for implementing the use of the service on campus.
“This is a resource that faculty can access at their convenience and from home,” Sancho-Madriz said. “When faculty join the center, they can have immediate access to everything the membership provides.”
Sancho-Madriz has oversight of the Faculty Center for Professional Development and eLearning. An interdepartmental team in eLearning led by April Dawn developed and launched YourLife@CPP, a new resource to improve the pool of applicants for faculty positions and help with onboarding new hires. Victoria Bhavsar, director of the Faculty Center, who also reports to Sancho-Madriz, organizes the orientation program for new faculty hires and will also be involved in coordinating or supporting projects related to the Lifecycle of the Professoriate initiative.
The second part of the plan involves the formation of subcommittees focused on four key areas:
- Faculty Cultivation: Pipeline and Recruitment
- Faculty Onboarding and Retention: Early Career Through Tenure
- Faculty Development: Leadership
- Faculty Engagement: Legacy Builders
Levine co-chairs the initiative’s steering committee with Michael Page, professor and interim chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. They have made several presentations about the initiative to faculty groups on campus.
In addition to Sancho-Madriz, Nicole Butts, interim director of employee diversity, inclusion and campus climate; and Physics Professor Homeyra Sadaghiani also serve on the steering committee.
Two years ago, Page began talking with President Soraya M. Coley and Provost Sylvia Alva about how the university could become a leader in diversifying the faculty. He traveled to UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, campuses that have been successful at recruiting diverse faculty.
Those visits gave Page, who was the provost’s fellow for inclusive faculty recruitment, ideas for how the university could diversify its talent pool with the most qualified candidates available, he said. That push included advertising jobs in more diverse publications and streamlining the application process for prospective faculty using human resources software called Interfolio.
In addition, the provost and president put close to $500,000 in Kellogg Endowment funds behind Page’s campus-wide inclusive recruitment efforts, which included facilitating travel for him and other search committee members to attend professional meetings and conferences with the intention of identifying talented prospects and recruiting them.
“We’re our best commercial,” he said. “We’re our best advertisement. I chose to be here and so should you.”
With new faculty members coming on board, the next step is to put resources behind supporting them once they get to campus, and to maintain support through their retirement, he said.
Sadaghiani, a provost fellow for new faculty success, is expected to co-chair the Faculty Onboarding and Retention Subcommittee with Sancho-Madriz.
The provost asked her to write a proposal for how the university could enhance its support and training of incoming faculty. Sadaghiani has been working since June on efforts related to that proposal, which includes the creation of seven affinity groups – each with seven faculty members and one facilitator from diverse disciplines, departments, genders and backgrounds – to offer a support system for those in their first year of teaching and encourage them to seek out mentors. She has coordinated these efforts with Bhavsar and the Faculty Center provides administrative support towards this initiative.
That retention push will soon extend to those in their second year of teaching with inclusivity luncheons to bring newer faculty together socially and online professional development training opportunities to sharpen their skills, Sadaghiani said. Data collected showed that incoming faculty wanted more contact with their fellow new hires, a concern that the affinity groups and other social and professional activities are designed to address, she said.
“The Lifecycle of the Professoriate will definitely impact the teaching and research aspects of the job,” said Sadaghiani, “but most importantly, we want to give faculty members a sense of community, to make them feel that they are part of the Cal Poly Pomona family.”