Two weeks ago, the School of Arts and Sciences published several new initiatives prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Brandeis faculty. These initiatives prioritize retaining faculty of color, increasing diversity within the Brandeis faculty, developing an equity liaison role in departments, adding endowed chairs, and establishing programs to support and mentor faculty.

Dorothy Hodgson, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, noted that although work is still ongoing to increase the number of faculty of color, the School of Arts and Sciences has doubled the number of faculty of color in the past five years. 

The School of Arts and Sciences and the Office for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion worked with the Sociology Department to pilot a two-year faculty position of Equity Liaison, held by Prof. Sarah Mayorga (SOC). This equity liaison is expected to be expanded to other departments. Currently, Mayorga implements anti-racist values into the curriculum, “brings BIPOC sociologists to campus,” and “[assesses] their classroom culture,” according to an article published by the School of Arts and Sciences on Oct. 14. Mayorga said that she has been very grateful for the support from the University for this innovative pilot program, as it has been successful thus far. Hodgson noted that this pilot program will hopefully be expanded to other departments as well.

The School of Arts and Sciences also now requires reports on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and faculty can “address ‘invisible labor’” in reports, “highlighting important work that used to go unrecognized,” according to the same article. Faculty of color often support and advise students outside of the classroom, so this space now allows them to be recognized.

The aforementioned article talked about academic programs at the University that have changed curricula to “provide a more holistic, less Eurocentric approach to their field,” such as the Art History department. The program “expanded geographical and temporal boundaries” to have less of a traditional emphasis on European material and “move toward a more global approach.” The Fine Arts department is also searching for an expert in Latin American, Latin X, and/or Afro-Latin art this year. 

Endowed chairs allow the faculty to be recognized and awarded for their achievements and retain faculty while investing in the department. Over the summer, Marta Kauffman ’78, the co-creator of the TV show “Friends,” pledged $4 million to create an endowed chair in African and African-American Studies (AAAS). The African American and African Studies department, despite being established in 1969 in response to the protests at Ford Hall, has not previously had an endowed chair, and the President’s Office will be releasing the recipient of the position shortly. Additionally, in 2020, “the School [of Arts and Sciences] established its first minor in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Studies after a rush of student activism inspired by the Ford Hall 2015 protests,” as written in the same article from the School of Arts and Sciences. The School is also searching for funding for an endowed chair in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies to “further diversify the faculty.”

Alongside the Office of the Provost, the School of Arts and Sciences launched a Faculty of Color Collective, formerly led by former faculty member Carina Ray, and now led by Prof. Ulka Anjaria (ENG), director of the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for the Humanities. The Collective builds community among faculty of color through a sponsored meal and “virtual writing and research accountability groups” to “foster peer mentorships,” per the same School of Arts and Sciences article. The program was primarily designed so that younger faculty members can have a faculty mentor that is outside of their department. Dean Hodgson noted in the same article that “the Faculty Mentoring Program is not just about professional development opportunities—it is intended to create a sense of belonging for faculty at all stages of their careers.” The two-year program pairs faculty with a mentor and initiates connections across disciplines.

The support from the Brandeis administration and the collaborative work with the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion has allowed these projects to be successful in continuing the recruitment and retention of faculty of color and the ongoing work of maintaining faculty diversity in the School of Arts and Sciences.