UMass: Qualified faculty candidates must be 'appropriately diverse'

The University of Massachusetts’ faculty hiring guide encourages hiring committees not to consider “protected characteristics” of applicants while also requiring that they consider an “appropriately diverse” applicant pool.

The UMass Amherst Faculty Search Activities Guide, created by the provost, Office of Equity and Inclusion, and the Department of Human Resources, was released in August to guide hiring committees.

The 36-page document mentions diversity or “diverse” 87 times. However, the guide claims that “protected characteristics [...] cannot be considered in evaluation of candidates” when determining minimum qualifications.

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While the guide makes it clear that the protected status of applicants should not be considered during the preliminary stages of the hiring process, it is clear that once minimally qualified candidates are identified, their protected status becomes an essential part in the hiring process.

Committees are encouraged to ask “multicultural proficiency questions” and to obtain “diversity statements from candidates” before creating a “short list” of qualified candidates that will then be evaluated by the provost.

“The Provost’s Office, in consultation with HR, will review the demographic analysis of the shortlist to ensure it is appropriately diverse [...] additional follow-up with the Dean’s Office, Departmental Chair, and search committee may be required to reach the appropriate affirmative action goals.”

It is unclear how the shortlist would be modified to be “appropriately diverse,” but at this stage in the hiring process, the guide makes it clear that diversity becomes a priority and candidates are to be evaluated by their “potential contribution to workforce diversity.”

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In the event a position has “affirmative action goals” the guide specifies that “the list of the minimally qualified will be sent to HR for demographic analysis to determine if the [qualified applicant] pool is reasonably diverse as compared to the demographics of the available labor pool.” It is unclear as to what positions would warrant “affirmative action goals.”

The guide also specifies that “when the department and/or School/College is identified as underutilized in terms of a specific protected group or groups in the workforce, each search must demonstrate a good faith effort to recruit, interview, and hire qualified candidates who belong to the underutilized group(s).”

UMass did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publication. 

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