New group of new Arts and Sciences faculty is most diverse in years

The newest faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences are part of the most diverse group of educators college officials have hired in six years, Dean Mark Peceny said.

The group of tenured and tenure track faculty hired in the 2017-2018 hiring season include two Native American faculty, two deaf scholars, three Hispanic or Latin American faculty and five Asian or Asian American faculty.

Nine of the 22 faculty hired were women, including three new women faculty members in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Peceny said.

“As the public flagship university with perhaps the most diverse undergraduate student population in the nation, it is crucial that we hire world-class faculty that reflect the diversity of the students we serve. The group of faculty we have hired over the past year fulfills that mission incredibly well,” Peceny added.

The hires in Physics likely makes UNM’s program the only R1 Astronomy program in the country with more women than men among its tenure track faculty, Peceny said.  

The new faculty members help UNM ensure that its educators are more reflective of its student population, Peceny said. In 2017, 56 percent of main campus students were women and 44 percent were men, according to the Office of Institutional Analytics.

“If one looks at Hispanic and Native American students, we are the only flagship university with a majority-minority undergraduate student population,” Peceny said.

“Forty percent of our students are eligible for Pell grants. We have large numbers of first generation and non-traditional students.  If we can deliver a flagship quality education for our students, we can transform their lives and our society,” he said. “If we do it well, we can become national leaders in delivering a flagship university education for the emerging American majority, because everyone else’s student populations are going to look more like ours over time.  We can and should lead the way in showing others how to best serve student populations like our own.”

The hires also come as Advance at UNM, a five-year National Science Foundation project that recruits, retains and promotes women and minority STEM faculty, is working with campus leaders to improve faculty search processes. The group is engaging and training department and search committee chairs on best practices for being inclusive at all stages of the faculty search and hiring process.

“This is the first phase of Advance at UNM engaging with UNM’s leadership to help departments change their searches to be more inclusive, which already has helped bring in new women STEM faculty and more diverse new faculty overall,” said Advance director Julia Fulghum.

To help with this process, Advance at UNM is developing a faculty search toolkit and related resources that can be seen here.