Carnegie Mellon University

Dear Colleagues,

Diversity in thought, identity and experience is essential to excellence in research and education, a core truth reaffirmed in Carnegie Mellon’s new strategic plan. Our strategic planning also made it clear that the makeup of our faculty is a key element in creating that diverse and inclusive community.

To gain insight into this important issue, I arranged several roundtable lunches with faculty throughout last summer, which led to the creation of a Faculty Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in September 2015. This committee is charged with advising me on how we might best recruit and retain a diverse, world-class faculty. Members include:

  • Karen Clay, Heinz College – Co-Chair;

  • Diana Marculescu, College of Engineering – Co-Chair;

  • Kathryn Roeder, Provosts’ Office – Co-Chair;

  • Eric Anderson, College of Fine Arts;

  • Linda Babcock, Dietrich College;

  • Erica Cochran, College of Fine Arts;

  • Cleotilde Gonzalez, Dietrich College;

  • John Kitchin, College of Engineering;

  • Jennifer Mankoff, School of Computer Science;

  • Curtis Meyer, Mellon College of Science;

  • Ellie Monaco, Software Engineering Institute; and

  • Michael Trick, Tepper School of Business.

This committee will help us to maintain diversity as a foundational principle of CMU’s faculty infrastructure. One of its most important goals is to develop and disseminate tools and techniques that better enable colleges to recruit stellar faculty from a variety of backgrounds. In addition, the committee is tasked to create initiatives that enhance the retention and development of a diverse faculty; this is a critical element that will ensure our collegiate culture is rooted in inclusion.

In a very short time, the Faculty Committee has already made substantial progress on the faculty search process, beginning with a survey of effective methodologies at work in our peer institutions, and the following best practices already underway in our own colleges and departments:

  • The College of Engineering has been a pioneer on our campus in this area through work led by Diana Marculescu, the founding director of its Center for Faculty Success. In recent months, both the College of Engineering and the School of Computer Science have modified and refined implicit bias-training ideas pioneered by Google. Efforts are currently underway to train key faculty members, such as the heads of search committees.  

  • The Mellon College of Science has organized a web-based checklist for best practices, including links to supporting literature. In the School of Computer Science, the dean, department heads and search chairs have been reading JoAnn Moody’s book, entitled “Faculty Diversity: Removing the Barriers,” and implementing a checklist of best practices for faculty searches.

  • In Dietrich and Heinz colleges, the deans have been working with members of the diversity committee to adapt the checklist to their needs and to customize their diversity plans.

  • The College of Fine Arts and Tepper School of Business are working with the committee to obtain training for their own search committees. Indeed, versions of the checklist are being applied to nearly every faculty search at the university, even high level positions; for example, Fine Arts and Mellon are currently using the checklist in searches for a head of school and a dean, respectively.

The committee has now recommended that the university build more broadly upon these efforts. The approach is two pronged: 1) strengthen faculty knowledge about implicit biases and best practices in faculty search and retention processes; and 2) implement procedures that attempt to manage implicit biases and support greater diversity throughout the faculty search process.

With input from the colleges, we will also be rolling out a university-level website to support a refined checklist. Furthermore, the deans have also appointed diversity liaisons within each college to disseminate ideas throughout the university. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and the movement is now progressing throughout the university at the grassroots level. 

On another front, the committee is planning a series of seminars and conversations that provide faculty with the opportunity to have discussions on diversity and inclusion. 

I want to thank the committee members and college liaisons for their contributions to this important work, and I look forward to continuing to engage with these faculty on diversity and inclusion issues at the university.

Finally, we recognize that faculty recruitment and development is only one piece of what must be a broader effort to promote diversity and inclusion at CMU, one that also engages students and staff. To this end, I have been working with the dean of Student Affairs and Staff Council leadership on how to achieve the more expansive goals of the strategic plan. The campus community has already received an invitation to engage on issues of diversity in the coming weeks through our expanded Martin Luther King, Jr. Day commemoration schedule.  I will continue to report on further efforts as they evolve.


Farnam Jahanian
Provost and Chief Academic Officer