The University of Missouri is a premier research institution with dedicated faculty, staff and students creating and discovering new technologies, arts, media, content and publications every day that transform lives and communities around the globe. To uphold its position as a premier research institution and remain competitive in this global society, the university must provide exposure to different people, cultures, traditions and practices. 

Having faculty with various backgrounds and life experiences can generate perspectives and ideas that have never been considered and can add to the educational foundation of students.

Pre-Search Activities

To help the university achieve its strategic priorities, it is important to cultivate an applicant pool of people who bring valuable perspectives and experiences from all walks of life. This requires pre-search activities to identify highly qualified individuals before the opening is announced. Pre-search activities can include the following:

  • Use your network. Maintain awareness of young scholars who exhibit high potential for success at Mizzou. Conferences provide excellent opportunities for networking with pre- and post-doctorates in the job market. Be mindful and purposeful in identifying women and other underrepresented groups who exhibit high potential for success at Mizzou.
  • Promote Mizzou at conferences and events. If your department is considering a search in the next year, promote Mizzou as a potential employer by seeking out potential applicants at events that you attend. Describe the culture of your department, the research interests of current faculty, and your perspective on life in Columbia. 
  • Seek referrals from scholars. Reach out to scholars at other institutions who might be able to recommend potential applicants. Women and underrepresented minority groups in academia, in particular, might be able to recommend candidates who will offer excellence in scholarship to your department. 
  • Locate fellowship programs. Become familiar with fellowship programs that offer funding to minority pre- and post-doctoral candidates. Consider attending events for such programs at major conferences to become familiar with emerging scholars and their work.
  • Host an event. Host events at Mizzou for pre- and post-doctorates to share their research. These events will offer an opportunity for potential candidates to become familiar with the department and its faculty, and for them to be introduced to life in Columbia. 

Creating a Search Committee

Search committees are the candidate’s first glimpse into the culture of the unit and the culture at Mizzou. Candidates are attracted to the institution when the committee is engaged and enthused, and when the committee can demonstrate that the position is a doorway to career progression for the candidate. Search Committee Chairs should endeavor to build their committee with individuals who can present a persuasive case for the department and the institution.

It is crucial to include people on a search committee who recognize the institutional value of diverse perspectives.

Diversity Recruitment Plan

To help ensure that units are attempting to recruit a broad array of candidates, , faculty positions must have a Diversity Recruitment Plan. The purpose of this plan is to ensure that the unit intentionally tries to recruit a diverse applicant pool, not to increase the likelihood that candidates from specific backgrounds are hired into the position.  These plans must be specific, multifaceted and targeted towards underrepresented groups within the discipline the hiring is occurring. Examples of components of diversity recruitment plans could include:

  • The search committee identified outlets to advertise this position that have broader participation among underrepresented groups. 
  • The committee has identified two highly respected scholars in the field from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds at peer institutions. These individuals have agreed to circulate the job opening to their professional networks. 
  • The committee is aware of three individuals from underrepresented backgrounds who are employed in a similar role at other institutions. The chair of the committee has contacted them to determine their interest in applying.

Identifying Potential Candidates and Resources

Many fields will have online communities that can help identify scholars from underrepresented groups who might be competitive applicants. Some websites also compile lists of doctoral students and graduates who are interested in tenure-track positions. Units should familiarize themselves with such communities within their disciplines and provide relevant information when advertising new positions. 

HR will review job advertisements to ensure they provide clear minimum qualifications, which helps disposition applicants in a manner consistent with federal guidelines. 

Interviewing Candidates

As part of the interview process, search committee members should ask questions to assess a candidate’s ability to work with a wide array of individuals. Questions will ensure that your candidate will fit within your work culture and be able to uphold the vision of the university. Below are a several questions that could be used.


  • What do you see as the fundamental characteristics of institutions that respect an array of diverse perspectives?
  • Please share an example from your professional experience that demonstrates your respect for people and their differences; and how you’ve worked to understand perspectives of others?
  • What tools/techniques do you employ to promote collaboration among groups of diverse individuals?
  • What is your definition of a diverse student population?  What behaviors, techniques, or decisions allow you to function most effectively as a teacher when working with a group of students who have differing perspectives on the issue at hand?  
  • How do you define “diversity” from a professional perspective? Please give an example of how this definition impacts your work.
  • Please describe experiences you have had leading outreach activities for underserved student populations (e.g., developing and leading workshops, providing consultation to student service departments).

The best responses from candidates will:

  • Demonstrate self-awareness in terms of understanding their biases, identity, etc.
  • Demonstrate awareness of differences in work styles.
  • Demonstrate awareness of generational differences in work styles.
  • Provide concrete examples and/or experiences.
  • Share successful experiences working with different populations.