Higher ed institutions are expanding interdisciplinary research activity by hiring groups of faculty from multiple disciplines at the same time. The idea, pioneered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the late 1990s and sprouting up elsewhere since then, is to formalize the expectation of working collaboratively across the university. It may involve a variety of collaborative support activities or a less structured expectation (as part of their job descriptions) that the new hires work together.
According to a new report based on a study of 10 public research universities’ cluster hiring programs, the technique can increase faculty diversity (shown to produce higher-quality research outcomes) and cultivate a more inclusive campus climate (which helps in faculty and student retention).
Among the key recommendations is for administrators to provide ample opportunities for the clusters to collaborate. Some tactics include:
- holding regular events where informal networking can occur
- dedicating space for the clusters to gather and interact
- putting a staff or a faculty member in charge of coordinating the cluster’s activities
The report also suggests shifting focus away from short-term costs of establishing and maintaining these programs and toward longer-term benefits for everyone at the institution. The programs can help eliminate silos, improve the teaching and learning environment, and increase community engagement. See UBmag.me/clusterreport for the full report, which was released by Urban Universities for HEALTH, a partnership between the Coalition for Urban Serving Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Association for American Medical Colleges.