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Notre Dame announces initiatives in support of a diverse faculty

Author: Arts and Letters


In response to recommendations from two committees, the University of Notre Dame will pursue a series of initiatives designed to enhance support for a diverse faculty.

The initiatives were detailed in a letter sent this week to faculty by the University’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and provost, Thomas G. Burish. They are based upon reports prepared last year by the University Committee on Diversity and the University Committee on Women Faculty and Students.

“The intellectual interchange that is essential to a university requires, and is enriched by, the presence and voices of diverse scholars and students,” Father Jenkins said. “Beyond the benefits diversity brings to all universities, we hold this commitment also because Notre Dame is a Catholic university.”

Burish added: “We reaffirm that cultivating a diverse intellectual community makes us a better university. Successfully recruiting, hiring, developing and retaining women faculty and faculty of color are fundamental to this aim.”

Notre Dame has realized significant increases in the number of women and minority students in the past two decades. Since 1989, the percentage of women in the student body has grown from 34 percent to 47 percent, and the percentage of minority students has increased from 12 percent to 21 percent.

The committee reports acknowledged that the University also has made progress increasing the number of women faculty and faculty of color but made it clear that “more progress is required,” particularly in the recruitment and retention of senior women faculty and faculty of color at all levels.

To that end, the initiatives announced in the letter from Notre Dame’s top two officers include:

  • Don Pope-Davis, vice president, associate provost and professor of psychology,will direct University efforts related to faculty of color. Susan Ohmer, William T. and Helen Kuhn Carey Associate Professor of Modern Communication, has been appointed assistant provost and will coordinate oversight efforts relating to women faculty. Pope-Davis and Ohmer will work closely with deans, department chairs and others involved in faculty recruitment, hiring, retention, mentoring and development.
  • The University has provided funding for and begun discussions about a postdoctoral program designed to help young scholars from under-represented groups advance their careers and possibly attract some to positions at Notre Dame.
  • The Dual Career Assistance Program, which has helped the spouses of recently hired full-time faculty and staff identify potential employment opportunities in the area or at Notre Dame, now will be made available to spouses of current faculty.

In their letter, Father Jenkins and Burish wrote that Pope-Davis and Ohmer will lead the process of coordinating the evaluation of other faculty and staff recommendations from the two committees.
In addition, they said that recommendations from the Committee on Diversity related to student life – particularly in regard to recruiting undergraduate students of color and enhancing multicultural initiatives – are “critically important” and will be addressed by the appropriate departments on campus.

They added that the “University’s efforts to identify, recruit, hire and retain women, minority and Catholic faculty are complementary. Indeed, we are confident that — through collaboration and, where possible, the adoption of shared strategies — the efforts will be mutually reinforcing, particularly with regard to recruitment and hiring. These efforts rank among our highest priorities. Collectively, they will do much to enhance the vibrancy of the intellectual community at Notre Dame.”

Originally published by Dennis Brown at on March 02, 2009.