Update on ladder faculty diversity in the FAS (March 9, 2021)

[Summary: This message provides an update on ladder faculty recruitment, retention, and diversity in the FAS since the introduction of the Faculty Excellence and Diversity Initiative (FEDI) in 2015. It includes updates on the number of arrivals and departures of underrepresented minority faculty and other faculty of color; the number of women faculty across the university and FAS, and in particular in FAS STEM departments; and an overview of the FAS faculty recruitment process.]

March 9, 2021

To: FAS ladder faculty
Cc: FAS Steering, FAS Dean’s Office, President’s Office, Provost’s Office

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing today to update you on FAS efforts to increase the diversity of our ladder faculty. Though much work remains, we have made palpable progress, particularly over the past two years. The message that follows provides details of that progress and identifies continuing areas for growth.


Supporting faculty diversity is crucial to fostering excellence in research and teaching in the FAS. This requires identifying the systemic inequities that have minoritized distinct populations.  An essential step is to identify questions that can be explored through data and analysis to spotlight policies, practices, and behaviors that have the effect of narrowing the diverse set of viewpoints, scholarship, and endeavors we want to increase. 

In 2015, Yale committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty through the Faculty Excellence and Diversity Initiative (FEDI), a partnership between the central university leadership and the university’s schools. On December 10, 2019, FEDI was renewed and reinvigorated with new elements intended to help recruit senior faculty across the arts and sciences disciplines. This report provides an update on faculty hiring in the FAS since the introduction of FEDI. 

While we maintain that Yale’s concept of diversity is “the most plurality”, this brief report focuses on gender, race, and ethnicity in the ladder faculty as several among many measures of increasing plurality.

FEDI’s role in FAS faculty recruitment

FEDI encourages faculty appointments that enrich the excellence and diversity of Yale’s ladder faculty by providing central resources to match those provided by Yale schools.  In the FAS, these resources are used to support faculty recruitment and retention in various ways, including support for accompanying spouses, support for research endeavors, and salary support.  FEDI also funds Presidential Visiting Fellows: scholars and practitioners from around the world who bring their unique talents in research, practice, and teaching to Yale for short-term appointments.  FEDI also supports the Dean’s Emerging Scholars program by funding outstanding doctoral students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences who also bring diversity and excellence to Yale.

FAS hiring and faculty diversity

The data presented here provides one picture of faculty hiring in the FAS. Representing the complex reality of human experience through data is always an imperfect exercise. These data reflect faculty self-identification with particular racial or demographic groups, but there are some who prefer not to self-identify. Moreover, different categorizations may be appropriate in different circumstances: context may affect how we categorize international faculty, faculty who begin their terms in January rather than July, faculty who are jointly appointed across divisions or schools, and so on. The data below are drawn from one of the canonical data sets kept by the Office of Institutional Research; using this set allows us to make “apples to apples” comparisons over time.

From Fall 2015, when FEDI was established, through Fall 2020, there has been a net increase of +29 faculty in the FAS (from 654 to 683) and net changes of +12 underrepresented minority (URM) faculty (from 57 to 69) and +27 other faculty of color (from 65 to 92).  That is, the rate at which the faculty as a whole has grown (+4%) is significantly outpaced by the rate of increase among URM faculty (+21%) and other faculty of color (+42%).

In the last two years, growth has been particularly strong, following a period of decline mid-decade. Ladder faculty arrivals and departures in 2019 and 2020 produced the following results:

  1. The cohort of new ladder faculty who joined the FAS during the most recent two years of the FEDI program period (i.e.: those added to the FAS ladder faculty count as of Fall 2019 and Fall 2020) included 8 URM and 13 other non-white faculty in Fall 2019; and 10 URM and 9 other non-white faculty in Fall 2020.  These numbers are out of a grand total of 44 arrivals in 2019 and 35 in 2020, across all FAS divisions. That is: of the 79 new faculty joining the FAS in 2019 and 2020, 23% were URM, and an additional 28% were other faculty of color.
  2. Ladder faculty departures in those same years included 7 URM and 4 other non-white faculty members as of Fall 2019, and 1 URM and 2 other non-white faculty members as of Fall 2020, out of a total of 21 and 28 departures (resignations and retirements) in 2019 and 2020, respectively. That is, of the 49 faculty who left the FAS due to retirement or resignation during that period, 16% were URM, and an additional 12% were other faculty of color.
  3. Combining these, from Fall 2018 to Fall 2019, the FAS saw a net increase of 1 URM and 9 other non-white faculty. From Fall 2019 to Fall 2020, the FAS saw a net increase of 12 URM and 10 other non-white faculty. The total net increase in FAS faculty numbers in each of those periods was 23 (Fall 2018-Fall 2019) and 8 (Fall 2019-Fall 2020).

As the following data demonstrate, the number of women faculty is increasing across the university and the FAS; notable increases have taken place in FAS science and engineering departments in particular:

  1. From 2008 – 2014, women constituted an average of 37% of ladder faculty departures (retirements and resignations) and 42% of ladder faculty hires across all university schools. From 2015 – 2020, the corresponding rates were 39% and 47%, respectively.  The population of women ladder faculty in the FAS and Yale’s professional schools has almost doubled, from 612 in 2008 to 1174 in 2020.
  2. In FAS STEM fields alone, the number of women ladder faculty increased from 38 in 2008 to 57 in 2020.  Where women made up 16% of the ladder faculty in FAS STEM departments in 2008, they now constitute 21% of the FAS STEM faculty.
  3. Increases in the numbers of URM faculty in FAS STEM departments are more modest but still show gains: URM ladder faculty constituted 5% of the STEM faculty in 2008 and 7% in 2020.  In 2020, URMs accounted for 15% of new hires in science and engineering departments.

FAS Ladder Faculty Search Process

Questions often arise regarding diversity-related procedures for ladder faculty searches in the FAS. Below, we include a short summary of this complex process.  Your cognizant Dean or the FAS Dean of Diversity and Faculty Development (DDFD) are able to answer questions that you may have about this process.

Faculty search process in the FAS:

  • Departments submit a search request for review by the divisional/area Advisory Committee, Faculty Resource Committee (FRC), and FAS Dean
  • If the search is approved, the department develops a diversity search plan which they submit for approval to the DDFD
  • The department and/or search committee develops the search ad, which they submit for approval to the DDFD and Title IX Officer prior to circulation
  • The search committee is appointed, and includes a designated diversity representative who receives training on best search practices
  • The bulk of the search committee meets with DDFD for further guidance
  • Following a check of the applicant list, the DDFD and cognizant Dean approve the short lists of candidates
  • A finalist is chosen from the approved shortlist; departmental procedures for decision on finalists vary. The relevant university officers then develop an offer letter to the finalist.

Concluding Thoughts

Our thanks to all of you who support our faculty community in your roles as chairs, committee members, researchers, teachers, and colleagues. We are grateful for your leadership, service, and advocacy, particularly during what has been an incredibly challenging year. It is a privilege to work with such an inventive and creative community of thinkers and scholars in our continued efforts to foster a diverse and excellent faculty.

With thanks,

Tamar and Larry

Tamar Szabó Gendler
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Vincent J. Scully Professor of Philosophy
Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science

Larry Gladney
Phyllis A. Wallace Dean of Diversity and Faculty Development in the FAS
Professor of Physics