Our Accelerated Faculty Diversity Efforts

October 29, 2021

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

In the days and months following the murder of George Floyd, I wrote about Columbia’s ongoing commitment to addressing the entrenched and brutal consequences of racism in this country. I also said that every serious person and institution should seize the moment to embark on an honest and open self-evaluation to ensure that our values and actions are aligned with the realities and magnitude of the crisis.

In this spirit, we conducted a University-wide review focused on the following areas: inclusive public safety; addressing the impact of racism in our surrounding communities; symbols and representations on campus; student inclusion and belonging; faculty diversity; the staff experience; initiatives at our schools and institutes; and antiracism in health care at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. The purpose in writing now is to begin a process of sharing updates and recommendations in each of these areas through the remainder of the current academic year. Today I want to report on our faculty diversity efforts.

Since 2005, Columbia has proudly invested $185 million to diversify our faculty. This is the largest public commitment made by an Ivy League institution to support faculty recruitment and development. The events of the last year and a half have expanded and accelerated this urgently needed work, adding new initiatives and programs despite hiring freezes. These efforts have included:

  • The Initiative to Support Race and Racism Scholarship, which advances the recruitment of outstanding faculty members engaged in race and racism scholarship. During the summer of 2021, Professors Robert Eschmann and Naeem Mohaiemen joined the School of Social Work and School of the Arts, respectively. Two additional faculty will join in 2022, with an additional eight authorized positions.
  • The Research Support to Accelerate STEM Cluster Hiring, providing research funding to facilitate STEM cluster hiring across the University.
  • Enhancements to our Target of Opportunity hiring of Black, Latinx, and other historically underrepresented tenured or tenure-track faculty. These efforts complement the faculty diversity efforts at CUIMC, which will be shared in detail early in the new year.

We are pleased to announce that these efforts have resulted in the most diverse group of new tenure and tenure-track faculty in Columbia history (29% Black, Latinx, and Native hires), as well as the second-highest year for the recruitment of women (47%).

In addition, the Office of the Provost has introduced the new Inclusive Faculty Pathways Initiative, designed to recruit emerging scholars and nurture them in the early years of their careers. This program supports and builds pipeline efforts across the University, promotes equity-based graduate admissions, and works with partner offices to improve the climate and support students in pursuit of an academic career.

A signature element of this program is the Provost’s Postdoctoral Research Scientist and Scholar Program, which supports the recruitment of outstanding postdoctoral scholars from underrepresented groups. The first six postdoctoral positions have been awarded to the following units: the Climate School, Columbia Law School, the School of Social Work, Arts and Sciences, the Division of Natural Sciences, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. The Office of the Provost has also introduced the Addressing Racism Seed Grants initiative, which has funded 57 faculty projects that engage with issues of structural racism.

I am deeply grateful to Dennis Mitchell and his team in the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement for this thoughtful and urgently needed work, as well as for Dennis’s general leadership in the overall effort. I look forward to sharing more news of this vital University review in the months ahead.


Lee C. Bollinger