Before reviewing the procedures that govern the recruitment and selection of full-time members of the faculty, it is important to recall with all persons engaged in all or some part of the process that the interview materials, the private discussions about the merits of all or any candidates, and the conclusions of a search process (beyond the simple facts that a search is completed or cancelled) are strictly confidential. In no circumstance should candidates who were part of a short list, or who visited the campus as applicants, be informed or counseled about the merits or problems with their candidacies.
The procedures outlined below are intended to provide guidance for the recruitment and selection of full-time members of the faculty. Such procedures have generally proved serviceable in the past, but improvement or refinement is still possible. Any suggestions that might increase the likelihood of finding and securing the best possible candidates for the College are welcome.
Please note that since part-time faculty are not typically recruited nationally, not all of the procedures listed here apply. However, many are relevant to all faculty searches. Part-time appointments are arranged by the Dean of Faculty in consultation with Division Chairs and Department Chairs.
This section has been informed by Myra Gordon's essay, "Diversification of the Faculty: Frank Talk from the Front Line about What Works," in What Makes Racial Diversity Work in Higher Education: Academic Leaders Present Successful Policies and Strategies, ed. by Frank W. Hale, Jr. (Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2004), pp. 183-98; and by Natasha J. Baker, "Managing the Hiring Process," Workshop for Department and Division Chairs, June 7, 2017, available at https://www.cic.edu/p/2017-Department-Chair-Phoenix/ResourceLibrary/2017PHXDDCW_CIC_Managing_the_Hiring_Practices.pdf.
Faculty Vacancies and Position Announcements
- The Division Chair notifies the Dean of Faculty of any impending vacancy as soon as it becomes evident. After discussion with the Dean of Faculty, the Division Chair, in collaboration with a department, oversees the writing of a position request and position announcement. The request and announcement are reviewed by the Division Council in light of other requests from all divisions. A Division Chair will need to plan for sufficient time for this review to occur. The deadline for new and returning/replacement position proposals is February 1 for the next academic year. The position announcement serves as the basis for advertising the vacancy. All full-time vacancies are advertised.
- Natasha J. Baker, an employment attorney, suggests that departments think about the following before a position announcement is drafted:
- "Consider the short-term and long-term needs for the position.
- Will the position change over time?
- Consider diversity goals.
- Think about the qualifications of the ideal candidate.
- State all requirements for the position, even the 'minor' ones."
She also suggests considering the expectations of the institution. So, the announcement might include:
The ideal candidate will display professionalism when interacting with members of the Berea College community and will demonstrate a commitment to carrying out the mission of Berea College.
Natasha J. Baker, "Managing the Hiring Process," Workshop for Department and Division Chairs, June 7, 2017, available at https://www.cic.edu/p/2017-Department-Chair-Phoenix/ResourceLibrary/2017PHXDDCW_CIC_Managing_the_Hiring_Practices.pdf.
- Current boilerplate, always subject to change, is included here:
Founded in 1855, Berea College achieved national distinction as the first coeducational and interracial college in the South. Berea has a longstanding commitment to interracial education, and is one of the most racially diverse private liberal arts colleges in the United States. With an emphasis on service to Appalachia and beyond, Berea enrolls 1,650 students from 40 states and 60 countries. Berea College only admits students who are unable to afford tuition and provides all of them a no-tuition promise, valued at more than $176,000 over four years. Berea’s students excel in the College’s supportive yet demanding academic environment, and many are the first in their families to graduate college. As one of eight federally recognized Work Colleges, all Berea students hold a position in which they work 10-12 hours weekly. Washington Monthly ranked Berea College No. 1 in the South, while the Wall Street Journal and Times (of London) Higher Education ranked Berea the No. 1 College in the country in terms of affordability. In their 2019 report US News and World Report ranked Berea as the best liberal arts college in Kentucky; No. 8 in Best Undergraduate Teaching; and No. 2 in Most Innovative Schools. Berea’s recognition comes from success in educating and graduating academically talented, low-income students who become service-oriented leaders in their professions and communities.
Located where the Bluegrass Region meets the Cumberland Mountains, the town of Berea (pop. 15,000) lies forty miles south of Lexington and is approximately two hours from Cincinnati, Louisville, and Knoxville. More information about Berea College is available at www.berea.edu.
Berea College, in light of its mission in the tradition of impartial love and social equality, welcomes all people of the earth to learn and work here.
- Write announcements that balance required and desired qualifications, so that the position attracts a wide range of qualified candidates. Announcements are approved by the Dean of Faculty before being released.
- Include information about electronic submission of materials and the required Faculty Application. For example:
Applicants should submit a cover letter, CV, graduate and undergraduate academic transcripts, statement of teaching philosophy, description of research interests, and three letters of recommendation to: https://tinyurl.com/yxeqqlom. Review of applications will begin on November 1, and continue until the position is filled. Note that you will be asked to provide the email contact for three references after completing step one of the application process online.
The Cornerstone software system is used for faculty application tracking and archival storage for all faculty searches. Upon the Dean of Faculty's approval of the position request, the search committee chair must work with the Office of Academic Affairs representative (currently Sarah Broomfield) to request the position be posted in Cornerstone, to learn how to approve the listing when it is built, and how to access the applications once the posting is launched.
- All search documents will be available in Cornerstone. Some search committee chairs may decide to copy the applicant’s files into Box for easier access or for the ability to download large visual or audio files. The permanent record of the search files will remain in the Cornerstone system.
- Other Protocol
(Academic Affairs Office Step): When the position description is approved by the Dean of Faculty, the Office of Academic Affairs staff support for faculty recruitment (currently Sarah Broomfield) will work with a search committee chair to create the posting in Cornerstone and get the unique URL for the position. The work of staff support includes granting all search committee members access to the posting on Cornerstone and sharing training information with all parties. The Office of Academic Affairs staff support will obtain from the search chair a list of advertising venues for the search (which includes additional diversity sites, websites, professional organizations, listservs, and professional journals), and then purchase these ads.
(Search Chair Step): The search chair or administrative assistant may opt to set up a Berea Box folder for management of the candidate files, but the permanent record of all search applications will be housed in the Cornerstone system. Training videos and personal assistance from the Office of Academic Affairs will be available to all parties who need access to the search materials.
The Search Committee
- Unless otherwise established in consultation with the Dean of Faculty, the Division Chair or Department Chair will chair the search committee and take the initiative in seeking candidates. Both the Division Chair and Department Chair will serve on the search committee. The search committee will normally consist of three to five faculty, including at least one faculty member from outside the division. In addition, the same two to three students should be involved in the on-campus interviews of all candidates for a particular position, if possible. The President, Provost, Dean of Faculty, and the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are ex officio members of all search committees. As the search proceeds, the search committee chair should keep the Dean of Faculty apprised of important developments.
- When constructing the search committee, aim for diversity (e.g., people of color, women, men, LGBTQIA+ faculty, senior and junior faculty).
- Myra Gordon suggests that the search committee chair should be committed to diversity and willing to do the work to find qualified candidates from historically underrepresented groups (p. 190).
- Keep in mind that diversity includes Appalachian identity as well as race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. Remember as well that diversity issues may differ in different departments. Encourage the committee (the chair must model this) to be open to doing business a different way.
- The search committee chair should submit the prospective search committee names to the Dean of Faculty and the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, copying the Division Chair if applicable, for consultation and approval before the search process begins.
Searching for Diverse Candidates
- It is important that all search committees make a special effort to seek out candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. Graduate schools with a high proportion of minorities (see list at the end of this section) should be contacted and followed up via personal calls whenever possible. The Office of Academic Affairs can provide search chairs with a list of Department Chair names from the list at the end of the section. Faculty should develop and use personal contacts and networks to identify prospective candidates.
- All members of the search committee should read Myra Gordon, “Diversification of the Faculty: Frank Talk from the Faculty about What Works,” in What Makes Racial Diversity Work in Higher Education: Academic Leaders Present Success Policies and Strategies, and “How to Hire For Diversity” (Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept. 16, 2016). Both are available in the Office of Academic Affairs.
- Led by the chair, the search committee should discuss and remain alert to implicit biases and discomfort with difference that often affects the search process for women and minority candidates. Begin with open dialogue so that all members will scrutinize their own biases/prejudices/lack of knowledge/lack of understanding/inexperience with addressing these challenges.
- Go beyond sending the ad to HBCUs and other institutions serving underrepresented groups. Myra Gordon suggests that search committees "really search." The search committee "must (1) review the Chronicle of Higher Education and relevant Websites to find scholars with prestigious fellowships; (2) see who is presenting at conferences and approach them; (3) identify the top degree producers for minorities in their particular discipline and then go directly after their graduates; (4) attend the regional conferences for the Compact for Faculty Diversity; and (5) contact special professional caucuses or interest groups for referrals" (p. 191).
- One of the best proactive strategies involves going to national conferences with the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
- Offer suggestions for special ads to the Office of Academic Affairs, which has data in reference to which sites applicants visited to view the position announcements.
- Where necessary, reach out to other departments and divisions, and even alumni or faculty at other institutions.
Compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
It is important that:
- Prospective candidates be given as complete an understanding as possible concerning the kind of college Berea is. Thus, all candidates invited to campus receive the position announcement, a copy of the Great Commitments, and selected brochures in their welcome packet.
- We make clear in all public announcements that Berea recognizes a special responsibility to seek and give full consideration to candidates who are women or members of ethnic and racial minority groups. The statement most commonly used to make this point is “Berea College, in light of its mission in the tradition of impartial love and social equality, welcomes all people of the earth to learn and work here."
- All individuals who express an interest in a vacancy should be given equal consideration. Thus, the same information (e.g., curriculum vitae, application letter, names of references) should be requested from all interested individuals.
- All files of individuals who express an interest in a vacancy need to be maintained for five years. Such files will be maintained in the Cornerstone system for the retention period.
Communications with Candidates
All candidates should receive a prompt acknowledgement of their application. This acknowledgement is designed in the Cornerstone system and sent to them upon submission of their application.
Evaluation of Candidates
- According to the timetable established by the chair of the search committee and the Dean of Faculty, the search committee should select the most favored candidates. Typically, a short list of applicants is selected by the committee for brief phone or videoconference interviews to reduce the list to two applicants to invite to campus. Applicants should be asked a consistent set of questions in order to maximize impartiality. Be sure to abide by the Guidelines for Interviewers at the end of this document.
- Consider constructing a rubric to be used in screening applicants. The Office of Academic Affairs has examples.
- Be alert to biases that affect evaluation of minority and women candidates. Myra Gordon indicated that such "biases include inflexible preferences for certain schools over others with the accompanying assumption that no excellence can exist outside of them; distinct preferences for the linear career path when we know that many women and minorities have more circuitous paths; distinct preferences for some types of research while devaluating others." She goes on to say that "we must confront head-on the narrow notions of who is the 'best qualified'..." (p.192).
- Construct a list of questions that will be asked of all applicants.
- Prior to gaining approval from the Dean of Faculty to extend invitations to come to campus, a narrative should be submitted to the Dean of Faculty and the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion that outlines the ways that members of the search committee have worked to ensure a diverse pool of applicants. The goal is that such work will result in a candidate from an underrepresented group being among those recommended for a campus visit.
- The Dean of Faculty will carefully examine transcripts and other credentials. The dossiers for each of those selected will be accessible in Cornerstone for examination by the Dean of Faculty; the Provost; and the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The Dean of Faculty and the chair of the search committee will then discuss the candidates before anyone is invited for a campus interview. A complete dossier normally consists of curriculum vitae, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and all correspondence with the candidate.
The invitation to visit the campus will generally be issued by the Office of Academic Affairs after consultation with the chair of the search committee. Candidates will generally be asked to spend one and one-half days on the campus.
(Search Chair Step): The search committee chair contacts the Office of Academic Affairs staff support for faculty recruiting to hold potential dates for campus visits on administrators’ calendars while the Dean of Faculty is reviewing the files and deciding on which candidates to bring to campus for interviews. Timing is critical in scheduling the campus visit as administrators’ calendars fill quickly, and finding dates when they are available for interviews is the first step to setting the date for the candidate visit.
(Office of Academic Affairs and Search Chair Step): When the search committee chair has forwarded the top candidate names to the Dean of Faculty and the Dean has approved campus visits for these candidates, the search chair should work with the faculty recruiting staff person in the Office of Academic Affairs to begin the process of inviting candidates to campus. An invitation to campus is generally initiated by the search committee chair or the Office of Academic Affairs (depending on the preference of the search committee chair). Transportation to and from the airport is the responsibility of the search committee chair. If no search committee members are available to meet the flights, the candidate will be asked to procure a rental car, and the fees for the rental will be reimbursed after the visit. (Note: Only under extreme circumstances does the Office of Academic Affairs purchase airline tickets for a candidate.)
(Office of Academic Affairs Step): After the candidate interview dates are confirmed, the Office of Academic Affairs staff person starts the itinerary skeleton for each candidate’s visit. The itinerary skeleton will include:
Reservations for accommodations at Boone Tavern;
Interviews with the Dean of Faculty; the Provost; the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and the Associate Vice President and Dean of Curriculum and Student Success. (For 2020-2021, the Provost and the Associate Vice President and Dean of Curriculum and Student Success will be replaced by the Interim Provost and the Interim Associate Provost.)
After the Office of Academic Affairs has started the itinerary for the candidate visit, it is shared with the search committee chair/administrative assistant to complete.
(Search Chair Step): The search committee chair completes the itinerary using Berea Box. Essential elements of each candidate itinerary include: (Please note: during the COVID-19 pandemic, Berea’s faculty interviews will require rigorous social distancing and other hygiene protocols. The spirit of the steps below will be honored while minimizing the health risk to the applicant and our community.)
A dinner meeting with the search committee (customary practice is to have the meeting with the search chair or this dinner be the first meeting on the itinerary);
Meetings with departmental faculty, search committee members, and the Division Chair;
A teaching presentation for faculty and students, the topic of which should be determined by the search chair, and communicated to each candidate by the search chair;
A lunch meeting with students (typically at PapaLenos. This is paid for by the Office of Academic Affairs, and the chair can work out the details with the faculty recruiting staff person). To prepare for this lunch, the search committee chair compiles a list of students to meet with all candidates and communicates the details of the meeting with the students; and
An historic tour of campus, scheduled by calling the Visitors Center and College Shoppe at extension 3145. Note that campus tours are scheduled at set times depending on student guide availability, so please work with the Visitors Center to find out times that tours are available.
Guidelines for Interviewers
The issues of equal opportunity and discrimination in the hiring process have led to heightened awareness of the possibility of discriminatory intent in questions that are asked of candidates for employment. Questions that were once innocent and commonplace may be inappropriate or illegal. This information may help faculty interviewers negotiate these unfamiliar waters. The list below identifies areas of inquiry that are common in employment interviews. All inquiries related to these questions are potentially troublesome in legal terms. Inquiries into these areas are safe only if they relate to bona fide occupational qualifications.
The issues involved here are not only legal ones. Candidates for faculty positions, and especially women and members of minority groups, are increasingly and correctly sensitive to subtle and unconscious discrimination. Our hiring process will be far more effective if our candidates are comfortable with their reception on campus and have no reason to wonder about our intentions.
Do NOT ask questions about:
Spouse’s Job Plans
Previous Work Under Another Name
Spouse’s Maiden Name
Mother’s Maiden Name
Names of Relatives
Foreign Languages Spoken Fluently
How Language Fluency Was Acquired
Race, Color, National Origin, Gender
Type of Discharge from Military Service
Ownership of a Car
Residence in a House or Apartment
Disabilities or Health Status
If you have questions, please contact the Office of Academic Affairs (extension 3487).
1. Search committee chairs should also:
- Oversee the development of a list of questions that will be asked of all candidates.
- Ensure that all search committee members are knowledgeable and comfortable talking about diversity.
- Ask the candidates whom they might like to meet with during the visit.
2. 10 Best Practices When Conducting an Interview
Natasha Baker suggests the following items to keep in mind:
- “Follow a standardized interview process;
- Provide training for the individuals…who conduct interviews;
- Avoid asking any director or indirect questions about an applicant’s protected characteristics even if the applicant raises the subject;
- Prepare…interview questions in advance and be consistent throughout all…interviews;
- Recognize that you will never see better from this individual than you do at the interview;
- Do more listening than talking;
- Take care to ensure that any notes you write in the interview will not be misinterpreted later;
- Clearly discuss…tenure policies;
- Do not imply a[n] extra-contractual right to employment;
- Accommodate applicants with disabilities and applicants requiring religious accommodations.”
Natasha J. Baker, “Managing the Hiring Process.”
3.(Office of Academic Affairs Step): The Office of Academic Affairs staff person prepares a welcome packet for each candidate visit and delivers it to Boone Tavern prior to the candidate’s arrival. Each packet contains a letter from the President, along with major College brochures, and a Berea College Substitute W-9 form, which is essential to processing the candidate’s reimbursement.
4.(Search Chair Step): During the campus visits, the search chair or the assistant aiding with the search should arrange to have students attend the lunch with and/or attend the teaching presentation(s) to evaluate each candidate. This evaluation may be done via paper surveys, electronic surveys, or forms. After the candidate visits have concluded, the committee reviews evaluations and makes a recommendation to the Dean of Faculty.
- Travel Reimbursements
(Office of Academic Affairs Staff): After the candidate’s campus visit concludes and they have turned in all receipts and their W-9 to the Office of Academic Affairs staff person, a travel expense report is completed and sent to Accounts Payable as reimbursement for their travel expenses.
- Recommendations for Evaluating/Rating Candidates
- Review and assess the needs of the position, as well as the diversity of the department, both now and five to ten years from now.
- Select the best candidate for the position: quality and diversity are very important criteria.
- Ratings are more helpful than rankings. Instead of rankings, please convey "profiles of excellence based on the unique configurations of talent exhibited" by each candidate to the Dean of Faculty (Gordon, p.195).
- After all candidates to be interviewed have visited the campus, the chair of the search committee will solicit the views of the search committee. The chair of the search committee, the Dean of Faculty: the Provost; the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and the Associate Vice President and Dean of Curriculum and Student Success will then confer and agree on a candidate.
- Reference Checks
Once the candidate is approved by the Dean of Faculty, the chair of the search committee or the division chair should call reference checks before the Dean of Faculty makes an offer. It’s also a good idea to tell the applicant that “the next step in the process is to speak with the references, whose names you have provided.” The person doing the reference checks should communicate all findings with the Dean of Faculty. Specifics:
- Contact all references provided.
- Be wary if a reference does not reply, refuses to talk, or provides only a stock reply, such as “Yes, this person worked at our institution between August 2015 and May 2016. That is all I can tell you.” Do not call anyone not on the candidate’s references list without permission from the Dean of Faculty.
- Good reference-check questions include: Tell me about this person. What is it like to work with ___________? What is the most significant strength of this person? Can you suggest an area of improvement that you might have observed?
- Always ask due this diligence question: “Is there anything else I need to know about this applicant?”
If the search committee elects to do Internet searches for information not provided by the candidate, they should do so with discretion and consistency.
- Appointment Offer and Background Check
As part of the appointment process, after obtaining permission from the candidate, a background check will be conducted through the College's Office of Human Resources at the request of the Dean of Faculty. Hiring any employee, particularly a member of the faculty, is one of the most important decisions an institution of higher education can make. A background check is a search for "public" records--including relevant civil judgments and arrest and conviction records at the local, state, and federal levels. Hence, it is not intrusive in the sense of seeking private information about a candidate. In accordance with federal and state laws, adverse information about an applicant will not automatically disqualify the individual from consideration from employment with the College. In such instances, the applicant will be given an opportunity to review the background check results, correct the record, if applicable, and submit an explanation. A determination of whether information obtained from a background check should disqualify a candidate from further consideration would be the responsibility of the Dean of Faculty, in consultation with the Division Council. Once the Dean of Faculty has initiated a background check, the Dean of Faculty will draft and send an appointment letter to the candidate once a verbal commitment to accept the offer is received (generally, 48-72 hours is given for contemplation by the candidate). An appointment is official ONLY after 1) a satisfactory background check is received, and 2) a signed appointment letter is received. Once this is done, the Dean of Faculty will notify the Office of Academic Affairs staff that a search has concluded.
- Acceptance of the Offer
After the candidate accepts the offer, the Dean of Faculty acknowledges acceptance.
- When a search is complete
Once a search is complete and the Dean of Faculty has made the appointment and informed the chair that process is complete, the chair of the search committee should communicate personally with the candidates who were brought to campus, with the text below. When that is done, the search chair can ask the Office of Academic Affairs support staff or administrative assistant to send the remaining candidates an email from the Cornerstone system notifying them that the search is closed. This step removes the posting from the Human Resources webpage.
The following text will be sent to remaining candidates via the Cornerstone system:
As Chair of the Search Committee I wish to inform you that an appointment has been made for [name of position]. Your application is no longer under consideration. I thank you for your interest in Berea College.
There is a great temptation in writing such letters to include words and phrases like “I regret to inform you…” or “It was a very difficult decision…” or “You are a very qualified candidate, but…” These gestures are well-intended but can be (and have been in some cases) distorted by unsuccessful candidates. Such statements should always be avoided.
- If a search is cancelled
If the search is cancelled by the Dean of Faculty, the chair of the search committee should work with the Office of Academic Affairs staff support to notify formerly active candidates via the Cornerstone system that the search has been cancelled. The following text is recommended for these letters:
As Chair of the Search Committee I wish to inform you that the search for [name the position] has been cancelled. The position is not being filled at this time. Your application is no longer under consideration. I thank you for your interest in Berea College.
- Final Step
At the end of the search (successful or failed), the chair of the search committee should submit an updated narrative, including information about the on-campus visit, to the Dean of Faculty that discusses the Committee’s efforts to ensure diversity throughout the search process.
Graduate Schools Ranking High in the Number of Minority Doctorate Research/Scholar Degrees Awarded for All Disciplines Combined
Nova Southeastern University
University of Southern California
University of California-Berkeley
University of California-Los Angeles
University of Washington-Seattle Campus
CUNY Graduate School and University Center
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Rutgers University-New Brunswick
The University of Texas at Austin
Grand Canyon University
Alliant International University-San Diego
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Texas A & M University-College Station
Johns Hopkins University
University of Pennsylvania
Columbia University in the City of New York
University of Phoenix-Arizona
University of Florida
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Maryland-College Park
University of California-San Diego
University of California-Davis
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of California-Irvine
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
New York University
Ohio State University-Main Campus
University of Georgia
Arizona State University-Tempe
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
University of Arizona
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
Michigan State University
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
University of Houston
Teachers College at Columbia University
Purdue University-Main Campus
University of South Florida-Main Campus
University of California-Santa Barbara
Florida State University
University of North Texas
Source: Diverse: Issues in Higher Education analysis of U.S. Department of Education data for 2019 as reported at http://diverseeducation.com/top100/.