OSPID investigates faculty retention rates through lens of diversity

The topic of faculty retention at the College was broached in the annual report by the Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity (OSPID) during the March 14 faculty meeting. 

“Michael Reed, vice president of strategic planning and institutional diversity, provided an overview of the structure of OSPID and some of its recent initiatives,” said Carmen Whalen, associate dean for institutional diversity. Whalen herself reported on faculty retention and attrition at the meeting and included data on the breakdown of faculty members by gender and color.

Last year’s report focused on the composition of the faculty in regards to gender and race with respect to new hires. This year, however, the focus of the OSPID study has shifted to looking at retention rates of College faculty. After comparing two previous studies conducted over 11-year periods, from 1989 to 2000 and from 2001 to 2012, the OSPID reported a narrowing of the gap in retention rates between non-minority and minority faculty from the first to the second study.

The retention of non-minority faculty in the period of 1989 to 2000 was 51 percent and the retention of minority faculty in that period was 41 percent. The retention of non-minority faculty 2001 to 2012 was 71 percent, while the retention of minority faculty in that period was 75 percent.

Additionally, the study found that the retention of male faculty from 1989 to 2000 was 54 percent and the retention of female faculty in that period was 45 percent. The retention of male faculty from 2001 to 2012 was 64 percent, and the retention of female faculty in that period was 82 percent.

While the data indicates that more faculty of color and women left the College during the course of the earlier time period when compared to the later time period, we must keep in mind that “numbers may be skewed because of tenure review processes and the timing of the hiring cohort,” Whalen said.

“OSPID constantly works to promote the hiring, retention and development of a diverse faculty,” she  continued. “There has been progress, but there remains work to be done.”

Dean Bolton indicated that this year’s report marked both a continuation of OSPID’s previous work in examining recruitment’s effectiveness in attracting a diverse faculty to the College as well as an expansion of this earlier focus to include relationships between faculty diversity and faculty retention rates.

“What was reported on was part of an ongoing effort to track and steward [the] building [of] the diversity of the faculty, and that’s something that’s been going on for more than 20 years,” she said. “There have actually been annual reports to the faculty every year … about the recruitment each year: how we do in terms of recruiting men and women into the faculty and how we do in recruiting faculty of color.”

OSPID is “also paying attention to how [the College is] retaining faculty and also, longer-term, to what the faculty experience is and making sure that all the faculty who are here are having a good professional experience,” Bolton continued.

Reflected in the annual report this year was the “beginnings of what we should be paying attention to in addition to paying attention to how we recruit faculty – understanding the retention and experience of the faculty we bring to Williams … It would be an initiative in the sense of strengthening work we’ve been doing for awhile,” Bolton concluded.

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