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Dean of the Faculty

Vassar College

Originally founded in 1861 to provide women an education equal to that once available only to men, Vassar College has a long history of seeking to make accessible “the means of a thorough, well-proportioned and liberal education” [from the College’s First Annual Catalogue]. Building on this early commitment to educational access, Vassar now welcomes students of all genders and socioeconomic backgrounds with an expanded mission to provide “a rich intellectual and cultural environment in which all members, including those from underrepresented and marginalized groups, are valued and empowered to thrive” (from Vassar’s mission statement).  (For additional information on how Vassar understands diversity, see below.)

Faculty members play a critical and long-term role in helping to realize Vassar’s mission. To that end, the College requires all candidates for tenure-track and multi-year faculty positions to submit a diversity statement as part of their dossiers. Its purpose is to help departments and programs identify candidates who have the pedagogical skills, professional experience, and/or commitment to developing new ideas for helping the hiring departments and programs (and the College as a whole) achieve their educational mission.

While a diversity statement can take a variety of forms, it should provide your perspective on your past and present contributions to diversity, inclusion, and equity. For example, you can describe how you incorporate diversity into your teaching materials and methods, such as course design, readings, and assignments. You might also address how you engage with a diverse range of students in the classroom, such as discussion techniques that invite multiple perspectives and different political views and/or that increase participation and learning. You might offer examples of how you have taught, mentored, or collaborated with members of groups that are traditionally underrepresented or marginalized. Finally, you could articulate how your scholarship, artistic works, committee assignments, and community service address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Because you might not have substantial past activities in these areas, you may instead focus on future plans at Vassar as well as any pedagogical training (workshops, certifications) you have undertaken in this area.

Please note that, in line with the College’s Affirmative Action Policy, there is no requirement or expectation that candidates disclose their identity or membership in any protected class or group, either in the diversity statement or in other application documents submitted to the search committee. Voluntary demographic information is solicited through the application process but remains confidential—it is not provided to members of the search committee. Instead the College uses the aggregate demographic data for each search to evaluate its recruitment strategies and diversity efforts.

Diversity at Vassar

Diversity means bringing together people with a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, including methodological approaches, intellectual interests, and political views. Diversity is not an end in and of itself; rather it is an essential means of achieving the College’s educational and institutional goals. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that diversity of background, culture, and thought fosters innovative ideas and creative accomplishments, and students educated in diverse environments have been found to learn better, to deal with complexity more readily, and to emerge with a greater understanding of how to participate productively in a pluralistic society. However, in order to reap the benefits of diversity, all members must also feel included and valued, which means affording members of diverse groups equitable access to educational opportunities and resources.

As a result of Vassar’s commitment to pursuing diversity and inclusion, the student body of the College has grown increasingly diverse as measured by many widely used metrics, including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, national origin, religious belief, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities, and learning differences.  Outside the classroom, Vassar has sought to support its diverse student body in a number of ways. For instance, in 2010, the College established the First-generation, Low Income (FLI) Program (formerly the Transitions Program) for first-generation, low income, and/or undocumented students. Shortly thereafter, it developed a program to attract and support student veterans. In 2017, it developed its Engaged Pluralism program, which brings together faculty, students and staff to raise questions around inclusion and belonging, and to create programming to make Vassar’s campus a better place to live, learn, and work.

The following information on writing (and evaluating) candidate diversity statements may be helpful: