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Report Finds Biases in Hiring Black Faculty at Penn State

February 18, 2020
 
 

Pennsylvania State University has proposed changes to hiring and search procedures in response to a faculty-authored report issued last month that detailed how systemic bias has prevented the recruitment and retention of black faculty at Penn State, The Centre Daily Times reported. Black faculty made up just 3.9 percent of tenure-track professors at the flagship campus in University Park in 2018.

The report, authored by Gary King, a professor of biobehavioral health, and Darryl Thomas, an associate professor of African American and diaspora studies, describes an "endemic systemic reluctance to increasing and maintaining faculty diversity within a considerable number of departments and colleges at the University Park campus."

A Penn State spokeswoman detailed several steps the university is taking to address concerns raised in the report. Among them, she said all deans and campus chancellors are conducting “comprehensive reviews” of affirmative action plans “to examine specific areas of underrepresentation within their units” and develop strategies for increasing recruitment of individuals from underrepresented groups. The university has restructured its Faculty Search Committee Briefings, held every fall, to include an increased focus on “recognizing and addressing implicit bias in the search process.” Penn State has also developed mentorship programs focused on helping faculty advance through the promotion and tenure process, with a focus on faculty from underrepresented groups.

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