Hiring and retaining exceptional academic colleagues is one of the most important things we do as faculty members. We strive to attract world-class artists, designers, scholars, and students to an environment that is stimulating, welcoming, and diverse. With that in mind, our goal of recruiting talented colleagues should not be limited to the formal search process but at every opportunity we must connect with colleagues: at conferences; through national associations; through ongoing benchmarking; through inviting rising or established scholars, including graduate students, to present lectures, masterclasses, and other-related activities on campus. It will only be through intentional and sustained efforts that we will be able to recruit and retain outstanding faculty with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Identifying candidates of various identities must always be a priority as we seek to diversify our faculty in support of the University’s efforts to address matters of bias and create a more diverse and inclusive campus.
A copy of these procedural guidelines should be provided to the search chair, search committee members, and the staff assistant providing administrative support to the search chair.
The search process can begin after the dean has informed the department chair or school director that their searches have been approved by the Office of Faculty Affairs and the University Office of Budget and Planning. The next step in the process involves the chair or school director establishing a search committee.
The Role of the Search Committee Chair
The role of the chair of the committee is that of a facilitator/coordinator of the process. The chair facilitates discussions that lead to the draft of the position description, evaluation rubrics, ads, ad placements, and other pertinent documents. Working in collaboration with committee members and the department chair/school director, the chair of the search committee is responsible for writing the final draft for all relevant documents in the search including interview questions. The chair of the committee is also responsible for facilitating and documenting reference checks and writing the final committee report. With committee consultation, the chair also drafts all communications with candidates, their department chair and/or school director, faculty, and other relevant constituencies.
The search committee chair will work with the search committee, unit administrative assistant and their department chair and/or school director to establish a campus itinerary, including overseeing all travel-and hosting logistics for the campus visit, including facilitating communication with all internal and external constituents.
Please note: the dean must approve the final ad copy before it is posted.
- Search committees should be intentionally composed of representatives of various identities (including but not limited to race, gender, sexual orientation, research and creative activity, and faculty rank). A diverse group in the search committee is more likely to generate a strong applicant pool. However, when considering women and underrepresented faculty and graduate students to serve on search committees, consider that they may face a greater number of committee appointments than their colleagues. Try to limit this burden by prioritizing the contributions of women and underrepresented minorities are asked to make and provide additional recognition when necessary. Additionally, pre-tenured faculty, particularly intersectional individuals, should not endure excessive search committee duties.
- The chair of the search committee should be committed to faculty diversity and all committee members should have no conflict of interest; best practices recommend a plan for how to deal with any conflicts of interest that arise during the search process; to this end, department chairs and school directors should not serve on search committees. Search committee chairs are required to participate in the Faculty Affairs workshop on equitable searches, which will be offered every other week in Fall 2022. Please contact Marie Garland (email@example.com) and copy Martha Sutter (firstname.lastname@example.org) for assistance.
- A strategic step is to include faculty and staff external to your academic unit and/or the college, such as representatives from the VPA Councils and alumni. The goal is to ensure that search committees have diverse representation, beyond token or minimal requirements.
- Search committees that appoint a member as a diversity advocate demonstrate unwavering commitment to diversity. The diversity advocate will help ensure that the search committee gives due consideration to all candidates. Although all committee members should be trained on issues of diversity and inclusion, the diversity advocate can help the committee stay focused on these efforts. A respected tenured faculty member could serve in this role. Preferably, this person should not be the only underrepresented minority or the only woman in the search committee.
Given that search committees must be involved with the crafting of the Faculty Search Proposal Form, committees must be approved by the dean prior to submitting the Faculty Search Proposal Form, available in the PDF version of this document, to the dean with a copy to VPA’s Office of Academic Affairs (Martha Sutter, email@example.com and Betsy Henderson, firstname.lastname@example.org).
First Meeting of the Search Committee
Every member of the search committee must attend the first meeting to receive the dean, director, chair charge.
During this initial meeting, the dean will elevate the importance of diversity and the need to identify outstanding underrepresented individuals as candidates for the position and to reiterate selection criteria. VPA’s Office of Academic Affairs will also provide department-specific data regarding the percentage of females and of underrepresented minorities among tenured and tenure-track faculty and students.
The committee should create a search plan, including broad outreach. Committee membership should not change during the search; all committee members should be present for all candidate meetings to guarantee consistency.
- The position description and employment advertisement should be constructed with attention to opportunities to attract a diverse applicant pool. The process of writing the advertisement is important for many reasons, but perhaps most significant is that it will force you to articulate exactly the characteristics of the person you hope to recruit. All hiring should support the strategic plan and the values and priorities of your academic unit. A narrative stressing diversity and inclusion in the development of the ad welcomes applications from diverse candidates and reinforces your commitment to an inclusive culture.
- With an inclusive narrative, your advertisement may encourage a wide range of candidates to apply, especially those from underrepresented groups. Choose job ad language that demonstrates a special interest in candidates who contribute to the department’s diversity priorities. For instance, “The search committee is particularly interested in candidates who will contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through their teaching, research and service.”
If your advertisement is too prescriptive, you may have inadvertently circumvented the basic principles of affirmative action. Every time you state something specific, you eliminate other options. For example:
- “Minimum five years university/college teaching experience” may eliminate those with extensive professional and/or secondary teaching experience who could be successful at Syracuse University.
- “Terminal degree in the field required” may eliminate those with vast experience but the wrong degree, for example “MFA in fashion or costume design required” would rule out someone with a Ph.D. in apparel design.
Concerning application deadlines, our standard practice is to allow for maximum flexibility in most searches, with language such as “applications will be accepted until position is filled; however, candidates who apply by (date) are guaranteed priority consideration.” This verbiage sends a strong message that the process is moving forward while encouraging potential applicants to expedite the application process. At the same time, it allows us to consider particularly strong applicants no matter when their materials arrive.
All position announcements are forwarded to the dean for final approval.
VPA’s Office of Academic Affairs (Betsy Henderson, email@example.com) will work with HR and the Graystone Group, the firm retained by the University, to place ads and secure institutional pricing. In most cases, the Office of the Provost will mandate ad placements in publications targeting underrepresented minorities.
After consulting with the chair or director, Chris Eiffe will approve the final advertising budget.
 Adapted from materials developed by the STRIDE Committee at the University of Michigan and Columbia University’s Best Practices Faculty Search Hiring.
All applicants will be initially screened by the search committee to determine which individuals meet the qualifications of the position. Each committee member will review the completed applications and materials (including a Diversity and Inclusion Statement) according to the criteria for assessment as developed by the search committee. Committee members will rate each finalist and complete a rating sheet with comments. (A sample rating sheet template is available in the PDF version of this document.)
- Discuss prior to interviewing candidates how criteria listed in job ad will be weight and valued.
- Ensure that each candidate is evaluated on all criteria listed in job ad and identified as meaningful in the search. (A sample Candidate Evaluation Form is available in the PDF version of this document.)
- Be aware of the power dynamics of the group due to professional, mentoring, orpersonal relationships within the search committee. To ensure that recommendations area a result of fair deliberations and all individuals have an equal opportunity to voice their thoughts, be mindful of how power dynamics may affect the group while assembling the committee.
- Welcome input from the diversity advocate. For instance, this advocate could review the applicant pool and candidate shortlist to ensure adequate representation of women and historically excluded individuals. The advocate could also ensure that each candidate is asked about their demonstrated commitment to diversity, and experience working in diverse environments during all phases of the search.
- Phone or virtual interviews are normally conducted with a short list of candidates (at least six), including internal candidates. Interview questions should be the same for each candidate. In most cases, two external finalists, at least one from an underrepresented minority are invited to campus. Given that searches are unpredictable, there may be circumstances whereby the dean will approve additional on-campus interviews.
- The dean must approve all candidates for campus interviews prior to invitations being extended. If the committee is unable to find any competitive candidates from underrepresented groups, the chair will provide an explanation in writing, to the dean on what steps were taken to identify such candidates and why the committee was unsuccessful.
Applicants must submit the names and contact information for a minimum of four (4) references. Preliminary reference checks should be conducted by the search committee prior to campus visits. A set of questions for reference checks will be prepared by the search committee so that similar questions are asked of each reference, though often there are areas for discussion that surface during phone call interviews with references. The search committee chair may enlist the assistance of search committee members in conducting reference checks. If the candidate’s direct supervisor is not listed as one the four references, with written permission from the candidate, the chair of the department or school director should contact that person and document their response, which will be included with the hiring proposal. In some cases, supervisors will not be contacted until the candidate receives a final offer (verbal or written from the dean), depending on the situation. As such, communication between the dean and the department head is crucial at this point in the process. (In the case of a chair/director search, the dean will call the candidate’s direct supervisor.)
If references not listed by the candidate are sought, you must first receive written authorization from the candidate before proceeding to check additional references. The following statement from the candidate via email satisfies such authorization: “I hereby give express permission to Syracuse University to contact the references I have provided and anyone else familiar with my job performance at any of the institutions listed in my work history.”
Responses from references should be well documented as they will be included in the final report to the chair or director and the dean.
In preparing the itinerary, please note the following:
- Campus and/or virtual itineraries must be approved by the chair or director in advance of being sent to the candidates; tenure-track candidates must meet with the associate deans during while on campus, and with the dean, if possible, at the end of their visit. Please work with Kati Foley to schedule these meetings.
- Given our climate in the winter, you are advised to set up alternative dates for on-campus visits.
- When arranging interview visits, explore the candidates’ need for reasonable accommodations for the disabilities. You should ask each candidate if they need any special accommodations during their interview/visit.
- Engaging a wide variety of faculty, including potential colleagues across campus, may help you recruit your candidate of choice; you are strongly advised to pay close attention to racial/gender diversity in as many settings as possible.
- Candidates generally appreciate a member of the search committee picking them up and dropping them off at the airport.
- A welcome package with literature about the metro area in addition to the University may show the candidate that we are excited about the possibility of working with them and that Syracuse is an exciting place to call home; some units distribute swag to their visitors.
- For some of the meals, for instance, instead of always having someone from the search committee, you might include someone with a similar background to join the candidates.
- Consider the candidates dietary needs when choosing restaurants; you are strongly encouraged to review VPA’s Travel, Meals, and Entertainment policy, especially as it relates to meals.
- When possible, you are encouraged to use the Sheraton for lodging.
- All constituents involved in the search process should have the opportunity to submit written feedback; a sample rating sheet template is available in the PDF version of this document.
- All feedback, written and verbal, received must remain completely confidential.
Post-Campus Interview and the Offer
The chair of the search committee will submit the hiring proposal, with a hiring recommendation to the chair or director. This report must include the names and titles of each reference and their documented responses to the questions posed by a member of the search committee. The chair or director will make an independent assessment of the eligibility, strengths, and weaknesses of candidates. Chairs and directors may opt to conduct additional reference checks prior to forwarding the final report to the dean. Upon receiving the search committee’s report, the dean will meet with the chair or director to review the recommendations. Lack of adequate representation of diversity may require extending or ending the search if efforts to seek additional qualified candidates form a wider pool is not possible. The dean will make the final hiring decision.
After consulting with the Office of the Provost, the dean will negotiate the terms of the offer: salary, relocation expenses, and other as needed.
Once the dean receives a signed letter of offer, all applicants (not just the finalists) should be notified in writing by the chair or director, to thank them for their participation and confirming that the search is closed.
It may be productive to conduct a post-search debrief to review how the process went for the search committee, chair, and hire, including discussion of any candidate who turned down offers and what might have been done to make their recruitments successful.
Transition to Syracuse
- Candidates who have signed and returned their contracts, and plan to visit Syracuse to arrange housing or attend unit retreats may be reimbursed as outlined in their letter of offer. The following guidelines should prove helpful as there are tax implications for lodging and travel reimbursement that candidates must be made aware of prior to traveling to Syracuse.
- All moving expenses paid or reimbursed will be taxable to the employee and subject to tax withholding. All moving related reimbursements and/or direct payments will be deducted from the negotiated relocation amount outlined in letters of offer.
- Direct payments to vendors (such as moving companies) will be included as non-cash taxable income in the employee’s pay. Taxes will be withheld accordingly and reported on the employee’s Form W-2.
- A request for reimbursement should be submitted to the VPA Office of Budget and Operations. Upon receipt of a properly documented and substantiated request for reimbursement of moving expenses the reimbursement will be processed and paid with the employee’s next regular pay. Please note for those faculty that submit their receipts during the summer months, the next regular pay is generally 8/31 for academic year appointments. Taxes will be withheld accordingly and reported on the employee’s Form W-2.
- Sample Candidate Evaluation Sheet
- Faculty Search Proposal Form
- Search Committee Member Form
- Faculty Hiring Proposal