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Resources for Faculty Provide Help to Succeed and Advance

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Becky Petitt, Vice Chancellor of the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

“Faculty are really the life of the institution,” said Becky Petitt, Vice Chancellor of the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at UC San Diego. “Recruitment and retention of faculty is a key focus at our university, yet it is increasingly difficult when we think about competing with other institutions. So what that means is that we must remove any barriers to access that might exist.”

Petit’s office is leading the charge in policy development, community building, professional development and campus resources to create an environment where all UC San Diego faculty can succeed and advance.

Virtual boot camp for academics

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Padmini Rangamani
Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

At UC San Diego, faculty members have an opportunity to participate in the Faculty Success Program, an intensive 12-week virtual boot camp offered by the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. The program combines empirically tested methods, coaching, peer support and online tools to help academics thrive in their careers and achieve work-life balance.

“The biggest challenge that most faculty at my career stage face is managing time,” said Padmini Rangamani. "Most young faculty are also parts of young families, supporting their spouses careers, likely with young children, or thinking of having children, or sometimes even caregiving for aging family members. By acknowledging that many of the things going on in our lives at the same time, this program and the other programs offered by the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion help us develop a perspective on how to fulfill our professional aspirations while also leading fulfilling lives.”

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Laura I. Cerviño
Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences

Laura Cerviño, associate professor in the Department of Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences, added, “The Faculty Success Program focuses on helping in identifying your professional and personal goals, and balancing and aligning your efforts in the different areas. It makes you work on the day-by-day effort to achieve those goals. Strategic planning is a key component where effort should be placed, in addition to writing every day. And a robust network of mentors can help you in your different areas.”

Expanded family leave

“A current campus focus is family accommodations, such as childcare and caregiving for elderly family members,” Petitt said. “It’s very important that we think about what it means to be a more family friendly institution. Not just for women, but also for men who are primary care givers. We need to have policies that are nimble enough to accommodate our current faculty, as well as the diverse faculty that we want to attract.”

The Academic Senate, in partnership with the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, convened a task force to consider more competitive and flexible family accommodations for UC San Diego faculty. The task force’s recommendations to: 1) expand benefits to increase equity and reflect the changing landscape and diversity of the family unit, 2) reduce the actual or perceived stigma associated with utilizing family accommodations, and 3) encourage broader use of family accommodations served as the foundation for revisions to the Family Accommodations Policy, which became effective July 1, 2016.

Creating a more equitable campus climate

This fall, to further promote and communicate the UC San Diego Principles of Community, the EDI Office kicked off a series of initiatives and climate grants to emphasize the Principles as central tenets for a more equitable and inclusive campus climate.

The series includes seminars for instructional faculty, such as “Responding to Triggering Events: Faculty and Classroom Dynamics,” recently led by nationally recognized facilitators Kathy Obear and Tanya Williams. In discussing controversial topics or current events in class, students and faculty may feel triggered and experience intense, unexpected emotional reactions to the comments and actions of others. In the seminar, participants learned essential skills for managing difficult conversations while maintaining a productive and inclusive teaching and learning classroom environment.

Each campus division also has a faculty equity advisor in place to provide advice, information and guidance regarding removing barriers to faculty equity. Designated by the dean in each division, the advisors are integral to promoting best practices for faculty recruitment and advancement on campus.

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Pamela C. Cosman
Associate Dean, Jacobs School of Engineering
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Faculty Equity Advisor

“When I first joined the faculty 21 years ago, I was the fourth woman in my department –Electrical and Computer Engineering – and I assumed that the numbers would grow,” said Pamela Cosman, faculty equity advisor in the Jacobs School of Engineering as well as associate dean and professor. “But instead, they got worse. The other three women all left. And there were no underrepresented minorities in my department. I decided to become the faculty equity adviser because I was rather shocked that the numbers were remaining so low for so many years. I wanted to study this problem and help fix it.”

She added, “I’m very pleased that there are now six women faculty in my department, and the numbers for the engineering school as a whole have also gone up. Looking at the last two years, 32 percent of the hires in the Jacobs School were women, and 11 percent were underrepresented minorities, which represents huge progress.”