Campus News

VITAL program to diversify pipeline for faculty recruitment

A female professor gestures while teaching a diverse group of college students.

Promising doctoral scholars from historically underrepresented populations will share their work with a UB audience as part of the VITAL program's Visiting Future Faculty Week.


Published September 2, 2021

“Diversifying UB’s faculty is a top priority for our campus community. Building robust networks for recruitment is essential to achieving this goal in an increasingly competitive academic job market environment. ”
A. Scott Weber, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs

UB is working to increase its pool of diverse candidates for faculty positions by implementing a new program designed to build a pipeline for recruitment.

The Visiting Future Faculty (VITAL) program, a three-year pilot program developed by the Office of the Provost and the Office of Inclusive Excellence, will bring promising doctoral scholars from historically underrepresented populations to UB before they reach the job market in order to expose them to the research and teaching opportunities available at UB. VITAL participants will have the opportunity to engage with UB faculty and students, meet other scholars in the program and learn about the many advantages of living in Western New York.

“Diversifying UB’s faculty is a top priority for our campus community,” says Provost A. Scott Weber. “Building robust networks for recruitment is essential to achieving this goal in an increasingly competitive academic job market environment. The VITAL program enables UB to extend its reach and network to promising future faculty candidates.”

The VITAL program, says Despina Stratigakos, vice provost for inclusive excellence, aims to foster and build sustainable relationships with ABD (all but dissertation) candidates who are a year or two from graduation in order to boost the potential for diverse hires by decanal units in the coming years.

Program participants will visit UB for four days during the spring semester. During their visit, they will take part in two events organized by the host department, such as a workshop or a public lecture, where they will share their scholarship. They also will take part in school programming and/or courses; meet with faculty, staff and students; tour the area; and participate in social events.

In addition to building a pipeline for diversifying the UB faculty, the VITAL program provides opportunities for UB graduate students, as well as for program participants, Stratigakos notes. For instance, it gives UB graduate students the chance to meet and engage with the diverse emerging scholars participating in the program, thus expanding their academic networks and facilitating future collaborations.

“Building those networks is especially important for historically underrepresented students at UB, who may not experience substantial diversity among their cohorts,” Stratigakos says.

And for the Visiting Future Faculty, their experiences at UB, which will include receiving substantial feedback on their work and becoming part of a new peer group, will provide the scholars encouragement and support as they enter the final leg of their doctoral studies. This is often a time, Stratigakos notes, when graduate students feel discouraged by the long road to the doctorate, and the program will offer them a chance “to recharge, feel valued and be inspired,” making VITAL alumni “ambassadors for UB for years to come.”

The program will also help the visiting scholars build a network of mentors and collaborators — as well as strengthen their peer networks — to support them as they continue to pursue their career goals and academic aspirations.

UB is seeking candidates for the inaugural Visiting Future Faculty Week, which is taking place March 28 to April 1, 2022. Applications are by nomination only; prospective candidates may email the Office of Inclusive Excellence to request consideration. UB department chairs who are interested in nominating someone for the program may access documents and instructions online.

For more information, visit the VITAL webpage.