In response to persistent underrepresentation, some institutions have designated postings as open only to applicants from one or more designated groups. Sometimes, this is done on an ad-hoc basis in response to needs within a department or faculty. In other cases, positions are created as part of a program to make a number of appointments within a set period of time. Such cluster-hiring programs may be designed not only to increase representation, but also to better ensure retention by building networks and improving the institutional climate for underrepresented scholars who often experience isolation, excessive workload, and a general lack of professional support.
Cluster hiring programs are relatively uncommon in Canada and have been more prevalent in the United States. While simply hiring a critical mass of scholars may be a worthy goal in itself, research assessing these programs demonstrates that they are more likely to lead to a positive experience for participating academic staff if they are supported by infrastructure aimed at identifying and eliminating systemic barriers.24
Simon Fraser University’s Aboriginal Faculty Recruitment Plan funds the creation of up to two new faculty positions each year reserved for Aboriginal scholars. The first three years of salary and benefits for each position are funded by the office of the VP Academic. While institutions have often initiated such programs, associations have played a role as well. YUFA has negotiated the creation of an Aboriginal hiring initiative that stipulates that at least six Aboriginal scholars will be hired to tenure-stream positions during the life of the agreement, with no more of three of these appointments made to the teaching-intensive stream.25
The settlement of a policy grievance filed by the Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA) over the employer’s failure to follow the employment equity policies and procedures, included the establishment of the President’s Indigenous Peoples Scholars Program:
In keeping with the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Universities Canada Principles of Indigenous Education, the University of Windsor has established the President’s Indigenous Peoples Scholars Program. Through this program, the University will appoint five Indigenous scholars to tenure-track faculty positions at the assistant professor level across a range of disciplines. The term “Indigenous Peoples Scholars” refers to scholars who self-identify as Indigenous (i.e., First Nations, Métis, or Inuit).26
Many associations have begun to negotiate measures aimed at establishing equitable policies and practices that involve Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Knowledge in all aspects of campus life. These are examined in detail in the CAUT advisory on Bargaining for the Indigenization of the Academy.27
24 Urban Universities for HEALTH. Faculty Cluster Hiring for Diversity and Institutional Climate. https://www.aplu.org/library/faculty-cluster-hiring-for-diversity-and-institutional-climate/file. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
26 Windsor University Faculty Association. GR# 0870 - Employment Equity Obligations Under Article 30. http://www.wufa.ca/article-296/gr-0870-employment-equity-obligations-und.... Retrieved February 26, 2018.
27 CAUT Bargaining Advisory on Bargaining for Indigenization of the Academy, January 2020. https://www.caut.ca/sites/default/files/caut-bargaining-advisory-bargain....