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Bentley Sees Success in Faculty Hiring, Promotion, and Retirement Practices
As many deans know too well, effectively managing faculty through a variety of important career stages -- from recruiting and promotion to retention and retirement -- is a challenge for colleges and universities of every kind.
At Bentley we are pleased to say we have made progress on a number of fronts in recent years. For example, the American Council on Education and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation recognized us in 2012 as one of fifteen colleges and universities to have developed “best practice” policies to help faculty transition into retirement. A $100,000 grant from the foundation has allowed Bentley to develop workshops, a faculty retirement handbook, and other resources to enhance our support of the faculty retirement transition.
Over the last six years, 41.4% of the 99 full-time faculty who retired from Bentley availed themselves of the phased plan offered by the university. This represents 77.4% of the departing tenure-track faculty to whom the program applies. Over the same period we recruited 106 new full-time faculty. The average age of our incoming faculty was fully sixteen years younger than our departing faculty, and over twenty-seven years younger than those who retired—an achievement that resulted in our aggregate full-time faculty age declining by more than four years from what it otherwise might have been.
Beyond our progress addressing the issue of an aging faculty—which we will return to in a future newsletter—recruiting and hiring a diverse, talented faculty remains a top priority. Indeed, faculty recruiting is considered critical to achieving our strategic priorities as an international business university. Our hiring results have been very encouraging, particularly in terms of the numbers of female faculty and faculty of color we’ve been able to bring to Bentley.
Approximately half—46.2%— of our full-time faculty hires since 2011 have been women, a proportion that is 14% higher than the fraction of women who have left or retired from Bentley. Our hiring practices are clearly bringing us top quality female scholars, but even more importantly we are promoting and retaining them at an unusually high percentage. While many colleges and universities report struggling to retain and promote female faculty, 50% of Bentley’s decisions on positive tenure and promotion to associate professor have been women, and 54.2% of our promotions to full professor have been women. In aggregate, over the last five years, Bentley has promoted more women than men.
Bentley is seeing similar success in hiring a diverse faculty. Just over one in four of our hires in the last six years is a person of color; in the last two years that average jumps to 31.7%. Over the same period, 21.5% of our tenure promotions have also been to applicants of color.
Our University Ombudsman and Special Advisor to the President, Earl Avery, is actively involved with our departments and their hiring committees, going to faculty job fairs, academic conferences, and other recruiting events. Dr. Avery attributes Bentley’s success in hiring diverse faculty to “creative leadership that encourages a range of partnerships and pushes the thinking of current faculty,” and observes “having a diverse faculty is so important as we prepare students to succeed in and contribute to an increasingly interdependent world.”
We’ve made a concerted effort to focus on this area and have developed a road map, per se, which is working for us. For example, the dean and provost approve searches for full-time faculty in consultation with department chairs, based on teaching needs and scholarly agendas, rather than dedicated department lines. Then departmental search committees manage the recruiting process with support from Human Resources, the Deans’ offices, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. From the President, Gloria Cordes Larson, to the ombudsman, to the provost, to the deans, department chairs, and search committees, Bentley is committed to hiring and maintaining a diverse faculty. The engine that drives our successes relies on the commitment of many.
Alison Davis-Blake, the former business school dean at the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota, was inaugurated as the eighth president of Bentley University in a ceremony attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the extended Bentley community.