TERRE HAUTE — Currently a high school librarian in Indianapolis, Edith Campbell would like to become an academic librarian — potentially at Indiana State University.
She was one of six candidates brought in Monday as part of ISU’s Opportunity Hire program, an effort to diversify the faculty “and bring outstanding minority faculty candidates to campus to learn about what employment might be like here,” said Joshua Powers, ISU’s special assistant to the provost for academic initiatives.
On Monday, the candidates spent the day learning about ISU and the community. Today, they will take part in departmental interviews and information sessions.
One of Monday’s events was a panel discussion at Clabber Girl in which community leaders talked about Terre Haute’s strengths.
“Terre Haute for me has been a great place to live and raise my family,” said panelist Jeff Lorick, who also is executive director of the Terre Haute Human Relations Commission.
He talked about the many opportunities for community involvement, the “great schools,” relatively low crime rate and moderately priced housing.
“I’m so excited to see all of you here today,” Lorick told the faculty recruits.
Business and industry representatives from the community ask him on a regular basis how they can diversity their workforces. “By you coming to our city, it’s a step in that direction,” he said. He told them that if they have the opportunity, he hopes they choose Terre Haute as their home and ISU as their place of employment.
When the panel discussion was complete, Campbell said she liked what she heard. “Wow. Very impressive. Very warm sense of community. A very nurturing community that I think anyone would be lucky to be part of,” she said.
Another recruit, Dwuena Wyre, is a private sector consultant from Louisiana who attended as a prospective faculty member in ISU’s human resource development program. She previously was administrator of a statewide training program in Louisiana.
“Everyone has really been very hospitable,” she said. “I’m extremely excited about this program, and I think it provides a great opportunity for minority scholars who are interested in a career in academia.” During the panel discussion, she had questions about housing and community parks.
This is the second year for ISU’s “opportunity hire program.”
According to ISU’s website, almost 15 percent of students are African-American and more than one quarter of the entire study body reflects domestic or international diversity.
Powers said the faculty recruits are from across the United States. Some are faculty members at other institutions, while others may be finishing their doctorates. A seventh person was supposed to attend but had a family emergency.
“They are here because we have a bona fide need and potential match with their credential,” he said.
Improving faculty diversity is good for students, and “It is enriching for all that we do,” he said.
Research shows that traditional searches aren’t the most effective way to diversify faculty, he said.
“This is about relationship-building and reaching out to people who don’t even realize that ISU is where they want to work right now,” he said.
Last year’s efforts successfully brought an additional five full-time African-American faculty to ISU, bringing the total to 16, Powers said.