Earlier this summer, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd shared with the University community a new cluster-hiring initiative to attract top faculty candidates with demonstrated Latinx expertise in research, teaching and engagement with diverse populations.
“It’s clear that demographics in Pittsburgh and in the United States as a whole are shifting,” said Cudd. “It’s equally clear that it is critically important that the University of Pittsburgh community and our educational offerings reflect those changes.”
Ariel Armony, vice provost for global affairs and director of the University Center for International Studies (UCIS), agreed. “It’s incumbent on the University to prepare all of our students to work in diverse communities,” said Armony, citing the need for cultural competencies and linguistic fluency, among others.
It was Armony, a native of Argentina, who proposed the Latinx cluster-hiring idea to Provost Cudd and will work with John Stoner, executive director of academic affairs at UCIS, to implement the new initiative. The goal over the next three to five years is to significantly increase the number of faculty focused on Latinx issues throughout the various departments and schools of the University.
Recruiting leaders in Latinx issues
The initiative calls for recruiting faculty members with demonstrated Latinx experience who will become leaders across academic disciplines.
“I believe that our existing talented faculty and staff, along with newly hired faculty, will build an even stronger community, leading to improved recruitment and retention of a more diverse group of students, faculty and staff,” said Cudd.
“Our specific goal is to intentionally design a deliberate, transparent and open process,” Armony said. The process would seek input from stakeholders including students, staff, faculty and the broader local community to identify both important Latinx issues and areas in which research might have the most significant impact. That information will help guide the hiring process, which could involve multiple hires within a certain field, or individuals working on different Latinx-focused issues in multiple departments and schools.
“By engaging this process thoughtfully and intentionally, we will be able to determine where new hires might make the most impact, as well as at what pace,” said Armony.
Tangible benefits for research — and beyond
A process is underway to build out a campus-wide committee that will consider benchmarking, as well as seek input from various stakeholders. After soliciting proposals for positions from interested schools and departments, the first searches are intended to be conducted in the 2020-21 academic year.
In addition to identifying opportunities where faculty research can have significant impact, Armony believes the Latinx initiative will have further benefits. “There is almost certainly going to be a tangible benefit to the recruitment and retention of a more diverse cohort of undergraduate students.”
The plan advances Pitt’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through concrete action. “This is particularly meaningful at a time when the Latinx community is asserting its place in U.S. society, ” said Armony.
“This hiring initiative will enable us to deepen the high-quality research and scholarship already present at Pitt and allow us to further educate professionals in ways that reflect evolving landscapes in race, gender, ethnicity, migration, health and the economy,” said Cudd.