The Dissertation Diversity Fellowship Program, also known as the Diversity Scholars Program, is an initiative aimed at recruiting and retaining faculty of color at Ithaca College. The program, which was started by the School of Humanities and Sciences during the 2010–11 academic year, hires scholars who are in the final year of writing their dissertation or who have just completed their dissertation and supports them in their research for the academic year, so long as these scholars teach one course per semester.
The Diversity Scholars Program is an incredible program for the college. As a smaller, non-research institution, the college has fewer opportunities to bring in academics from other institutions. The program is a clear, concrete way for the college to show that it cares about faculty excellence and diversity. The college has also had issues with hiring and retaining faculty members of color, and this program has historically been a way for the college to hire more diverse candidates. Out of the 26 past fellows, nine have been hired to work full time at the college.
The program also brings scholars to campus who are studying fascinating topics. This year’s diversity fellow scholars recently shared their work on minority groups March 29. Raul Palma, diversity scholar fellow in the Department of Writing, began the showcase with a discussion and reading of his creative dissertation and novel. Shehnaz Haqqani, diversity scholar fellow in the Women’s and Gender Studies program, followed with a discussion of her research on how gender patterns influence Islamic views on gender. And Nate Rodriguez, diversity scholar fellow in the Department of Strategic Communications and assistant professor of digital media at San Diego State University, discussed his research on gay refugees and asylees and the role media has on their identification. The scholars also regularly get involved in other events on campus, such as presentations for the entire community or participating in panels.
Considering how intensive this program is and how involved the scholars get in the college community, students should further appreciate how lucky it is to have these incredibly educated individuals. Community members should attend events and panels featuring these scholars, and the college should prioritize funding this program to ensure its continued success.