Pamela Berkeley, a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, attended the 2011 Future Faculty Career Exploration Program at Rochester Institute of Technology to explore job opportunities. She met with success; Berkeley was hired this year as assistant professor of engineering studies at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
“The fact that RIT offered a program like this, and that I was able to participate in it, was incredibly useful and attractive because it is aimed at cultivating underserved people who don’t necessarily have the bulk of experience necessary to promote themselves and their work,” said Berkeley. “This valuable career exploration program helps bring them up to speed.”
Now marking its 12th year, RIT’s 2015 Future Faculty Career Exploration Program will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 3, and includes a full roster of events. Twenty-one participants—coming from University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Bowie State University, University of Texas at Austin, and others—will attend four days of group sessions, share their research, engage in exploratory interviews with deans and department chairs, and observe classes or guest lecture at RIT’s colleges. The event culminates with a community panel breakfast sponsored by Greater Rochester Enterprise, followed by a tour of the city.
Recruiting and attracting well-qualified, diverse faculty has been a mission for Renee Baker, executive director of the Office of Faculty Recruitment at RIT. The program has become a national model in higher education and brings in AALANA (African American, Latino American, Native American) scholars from around the world who are nearing the end of their MFA studies, doctoral studies or postdoctoral assignments to explore potential career options at RIT.
“The program was established to develop and sustain the pipeline necessary to recruit underrepresented faculty,” said Baker. “There are qualified people out there, and we found a way to bring them to RIT where they can learn more about us and how to navigate the entire hiring process.
“The program is about building relationships with prospective candidates. There may not be a current opening for a participant, but the connection is made, and when a position does become available, even several years later, as was the case with Berkeley, RIT is top of mind.”
Since the program’s inception in 2003, Baker and her staff have processed nearly 2,000 applications and sponsored 263 participants in the program. The university extended 30 job offers, which resulted in hiring 17 participants—several of whom have attained tenure at RIT.
“We are very excited this year because for the first time NTID will be hosting three participants in the program—all of whom have a proficiency in American Sign Language,” said Baker. “We haven’t seen this level of interest from AALANA scholars in NTID in the past, although our office has worked diligently over the years to see these very results. This is a perfect example of how outreach and relationship building works.”