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4b. Experiences Working with Diverse Faculty

4b.1. What opportunities do candidates have to interact with higher education and/or school-based faculty from diverse groups?

Interacting with diverse faculty at UAA and in Alaska school districts contributes essentially to the unit’s core value of inclusiveness and equity (Std4b.Exh5). Candidates in initial and advanced programs interact with faculty from diverse groups in field-based experiences and in general education, discipline-specific, and/or professional education course work. Table 8 Faculty Demographics illustrates the diversity among our higher education and school-based faculty. All program areas provide course work from both male and female faculty members. Examples of intentional efforts in initial programs to ensure exposure to ethnically diverse faculty include the unit’s Alaska studies course taught by an Alaska Native educator and the opportunity for Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education candidates to participate in ethnically diverse rural field experience settings often with Alaska Native mentor teachers.

Similarly, intentional efforts in advanced programs help ensure candidate exposure to ethnically diverse faculty. For example, Counselor Education offers a required course in counseling diverse populations by an Alaska Native educator. Educational Leadership programs ensure that their candidates interact with diverse leaders by inviting a mixture of male and female state and local leaders to serve as guest speakers. In addition, in 2008-09 Educational Leadership faculty invited 4 Alaska Native, 3 African American, 1 Asian American, and 2 unspecified minority leaders to speak in their courses, thus ensuring that candidates interact with ethnically diverse leaders.

4b.2. What knowledge and experiences do faculty have related to preparing candidates to work with students from diverse groups?

All education faculty have experience with students from diverse groups through their past roles as school district teachers, administrators, or special service providers, and many have years of experience with Alaska’s diverse school populations. In addition to direct experience, faculty have participated in a variety of professional development activities that support their role in preparing candidates to work with students from diverse backgrounds. For example, 6 faculty participated in an Indigenous Knowledge professional development workshop hosted by the American Education Research Association in 2009, while 4 have completed Welcoming Diversity training and 6 have served as Faculty Fellows in the Difficult Dialogues project.

All school-based faculty are certificated educators who have met the licensure course-based requirements for Alaska studies and multicultural/cross-cultural communication and have 3 or more years of experience with Alaska’s diverse school populations. In addition, school-based faculty for initial programs have been successfully evaluated based on the Standards for Alaska’s Teachers. These teachers are able to incorporate characteristics of the student’s and community’s culture into instructional strategies that support learning, use strategies and resources that are appropriate to the students’ individual and special needs, and apply knowledge of the Alaska past and present context. Likewise, school-based faculty in Educational Leadership have been successfully evaluated based on Standards for Alaska’s Administrators, demonstrating they are able to communicate with diverse groups and individuals with clarity and sensitivity. School-based counselors have demonstrated strategies appropriate to the individual and special needs of students and incorporated characteristics of cultural differences into their school’s counseling program.

4b.3. How diverse are the faculty members who work with education candidates?

Table 8
Faculty Demographics

4b.4. What efforts does the unit make to recruit and retain a diverse faculty?

Recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty is central to UAA’s commitment to provide a diverse and inclusive learning environment (Std4b.Exh7). The Office of Diversity and Compliance provides resources supporting recruitment of a diverse faculty. Included among these are relevant guidelines and practical suggestions for successfully recruiting a diverse faculty. When searching and screening for a faculty position, the unit adheres to the Office of Human Resources’ procedures; at each stage of the hiring process, HR monitors and provides feedback to the search committees to ensure adherence to AA/EO guidelines. All job postings include the statement, “The University of Alaska is an equal employment opportunity/affirmative action employer and educational institution. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application and screening process should contact the local Human Resources office.”

The unit ensures that faculty recruitments reach local, state, and national audiences. COE advertises positions in the Anchorage Daily News and in both print and online versions of the Chronicle of Higher Education. COE posts all position announcements in AKJobs, a central processing operation for the entire UA system, and encourages faculty to take flyers advertising searches to state and national conferences. COE occasionally posts ads in Diverse Issues in Higher Education and has used online professional journals for discipline-specific searches.

New faculty receive a reduced teaching load their first year so they can become acclimated to the unit’s culture and establish or enhance their research agendas. The unit has a faculty study group on Culturally Responsive Teaching, which meets on a regular basis and welcomes faculty from diverse backgrounds. In addition, UAA has two committees created to support diverse faculty, including the Faculty Senate Diversity Committee and the Diversity Action Council.