Affirmative Action

6.2 Advertising and Enlarging the Pool of Applicants - Affirmative Action Searches


In the search process, it is most important to create a broad and diverse pool of applicants. One often hears the remark that the availability of women or minorities in a specific discipline is meager or even nonexistent. While some fields do not have large numbers of women and minorities, there is no field in which they are totally unrepresented. Advertising a position only in traditional publications frequently results in creating only a traditional applicant pool. The committee should publicize the position in a manner that will bring it to the attention of women and minorities, and it should seek actively to identify qualified applicants from those groups.

All academic vacancies must be posted unless a waiver of posting and search requirements is approved. Even though unit faculty members may be supportive of an internal candidate's desire to change from a fixed term appointment to a tenure system appointment, a national search for the position must take place, unless a previous search for the fixed term appointment referenced "position tenurable."

After the Provost approves the "Academic Position Request," there are several standard steps in advertising a position:

To enlarge the pool of applicants, however, a search committee should advertise in diverse publications and contact a variety of national, regional and local professional and social organizations. Most of the publications listed in "Affirmative Action Publications" and organizations listed in "Affirmative Action Organizations" advertise faculty and administrative positions for women and minorities; many of the organizations have a women's or minority office. Advertising in appropriate publications and contacting relevant organizations will not only help to enlarge the pool of applicants but will also convey the commitment of a unit and the University to recruit women and minorities.

In addition to advertising a position in a variety of publications, making direct contact with academic units at other universities, professional organizations, and colleagues is an effective method of expanding the search. The informal, "word-of-mouth" approach to recruitment is one of the most successful ways of identifying candidates. The following activities are recommended to unit administrators and search committees for specific searches, as well as for possible ongoing endeavors:

  1. Encourage faculty who will be attending professional conferences or who will be delivering papers at other universities to combine their visits with recruitment efforts for present and future positions. They may provide institutions and potential applicants with general information about Michigan State; with affirmative action data, which may be obtained from the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives; as well as with information on specific job openings. They should also be encouraged to solicit curricula vitae from promising candidates.
  2. Contact women and minorities who have received significant grants or professional recognition and ask for the names of promising women and minority scholars.
  3. Use a personal approach in recruiting applicants. Often outstanding potential candidates do not apply for advertised positions; they must be approached by a member of the search committee. If an individual declines a nomination or does not respond to your letter of inquiry, you should telephone the person to determine if her/his reasons for declining can be addressed and resolved. A telephone call will help demonstrate to a potential candidate that Michigan State is serious about affirmative action and equal employment opportunity.
  4. Consider for the position women and minorities who have held or hold part-time or fixed term positions in your unit or in the University.
  5. Inform the National Urban League and the national offices of Black sororities and fraternities of available possible positions.
  6. Inform alumni publications at universities where women and minorities are well represented of available positions.
  7. Consider contacting the affirmative action office at other universities, for some of them maintain lists of women and minorities at their institutions who are looking for academic employment elsewhere.
  8. Establish a working relationship with similar units at institutions with substantial numbers of women and minorities. This will allow a host of mutually beneficial activities to be undertaken, including a sharing of research facilities and exchanges of faculty. Teaching for a semester, delivering a paper, or simply making an informal visit, will allow Michigan State faculty to discuss job openings with the faculty and students at these institutions.
  9. Request names of potential candidates from women and minorities at Michigan State, as well as at institutions with strong graduate programs in your discipline, for women and minorities are often part of an informal network. These names may be put into a card file or data bank along with the names of applicants from previous searches who either did not accept an offer at Michigan State or who now may qualify for a position in your unit. The card file or data bank should be continuously updated with new names provided by women, minorities, students, and alumni from Michigan State and other institutions.
  10. Request names of potential candidates from women and minority organizations at Michigan State University such as Womens' Advisory Committee to the Provost, Black Faculty and Administrators Association, Asian and Pacific American Faculty/Staff Association, Chicano/Latino Association, and EAGLE -- an Association of American Indian Faculty and Staff.
  11. Request women and minority caucuses within relevant professional and academic associations to provide names of potential candidates. It would be beneficial to maintain ongoing communication with these caucuses on a broad range of issues.
  12. Keep national higher education associations informed of present and possible future positions. These associations have their own network for publicizing job openings. In addition, a number of such associations contain special interest groups (e.g., the American Educational Research Association has Hispanic and Black caucuses).
  13. Maintain ongoing contact with professional organizations, associations, and agencies that have a job referral service.
  14. Consider the pros and cons of hiring or consulting with recent women and minority graduates from your unit. This activity begins with recruiting outstanding women and minority doctoral students and retaining them in Michigan State's graduate programs. Establishing postdoctoral programs for members of these groups both from Michigan State and other institutions would allow them to gain experience and to grow professionally.
  15. Maintain close contact with women and minority graduates of Michigan State and encourage them to recommend this university to their students for both graduate training and for faculty positions.
  16. Invite women and minority scholars from other institutions to participate in unit-sponsored symposia and visiting professorships. A one-year visiting professorship to replace a faculty member who is on leave will not only assist a unit in meeting its instructional responsibilities but will also strengthen the link between the unit at Michigan State and a similar unit at another institution.
  17. Maintain contact with women and minorities whom your unit has unsuccessfully attempted to recruit for graduate study at MSU. As they complete their graduate studies at other universities, they may become candidates for a faculty position at MSU. They may also have women and minorities among their colleagues who are potential candidates for your open position.
  18. If your unit is developing plans to propose the establishment of an endowed chair, it may wish to consider the possibility of recruiting an eminent scholar whose interests lie in women's and/or minority studies. This may, in turn, attract other women and minorities to your unit.
  19. If women and minorities are underrepresented nationally in your discipline, efforts should be taken to aggressively recruit women and minority undergraduate and graduate students into that field so that the pool of candidates will be greater in the future. In addition, a national approach to the problem should be undertaken. A unit may wish to lobby in appropriate professional organizations and within confederations such as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation to develop a national strategy to recruit women and minority students into the field.
  20. Statements on a unit's commitment to affirmative action and discussions of affirmative action issues within a discipline may be published in unit newsletters or brochures that are sent to constituent groups and alumni, thereby informing them of a unit's affirmative action goals and enlisting their assistance.

Back to the Handbook for Faculty Searches with Special Reference to Affirmative Action