Goshen College released a nine-point plan to increase the diversity of faculty and staff during the all-employee meeting on Monday.
During his welcome to the meeting, President James Brenneman noted that while GC has has made marked improvements in diversifying the student population, there is still a long way to go for the employee population.
“I believe that students… continue to be hurt by systemic racism,” he said. “We are little by little becoming reflective of the diversity of our surrounding community. [But] all of this is still not enough as long as our students—particularly those of color—have the feeling of ‘only-ness.’”
Norm Bakhit, senior director of human resources, and Ken Newbold, provost and executive vice president, presented the details of the initiative.
“The fabric of higher education is changing, and Goshen College has the chance to be a leader,” Newbold said.
The stated goal of the project is to “have the diversity of our community reflected in the racial and ethnic makeup of our enrollment and our employees.”
Newbold noted that this goal aligns with Goshen College’s core values of global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant leadership. According to Bakhit, the initiative is an effort to be proactive rather than reactive.
Bakhit said that diversity can have a broad definition, and so for this initiative they are using the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s definitions of racial and ethnic groups.
The main point of the initiative is the diverse employee referral program, which will reward current employees for referring qualified diverse candidates to the college.
Bakhit said that the referral program is intended specifically to prioritize passive candidates (someone who may be considering a transition but isn’t actively searching for a job) over active candidates (someone who is actively applying for positions.)
“It’s not that our committees aren’t considering diverse candidates,” he said. “They aren’t getting the sourcing in the candidate pools.”
According to the referral form, if the candidate is hired for a posted teaching faculty or President’s Council position, the current employee will receive a $1,000 referral award, or $500 for a posted exempt position “after the new employee has worked at Goshen College for 90 days with a satisfactory three-month written review.”
In order to control for conflict of interest, employees from Human Resources, the Center for Intercultural and International Education and the President’s Council and employees who have influence over the hiring decision for the position are not eligible for the referral award program.
Other points of the initiative include partnerships with targeted universities in order to attract more diverse candidates, partnerships with local African-American/Black and Latino organizations and pursuing “promising GC graduates” who may come back and work in higher education, among others.
An open question and answer session took place at 4 p.m. that day in the Administration building to continue to clarify the goals and structure of the initiative.