Faculty Cluster Hiring as a Catalyst for Racial Equity in the Professoriate
Román Liera

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Montclair State University

Primary Discipline

Higher Education
The current sociopolitical context around anti-DEI efforts has encouraged administrative and faculty leaders to abandon practices that promote racial equity or to search for defensible ways to persist with racial equity in the professoriate. This study focuses on the latter by exploring how administrative and faculty leaders could use faculty cluster hiring to catalyze more comprehensive changes toward racial equity at the department and college levels. Faculty cluster hiring is an organized campaign to hire a cohort of faculty, often across a university, college, or department, with common research expertise to achieve organizational goals. The use of faculty cluster hiring explicitly aimed at racial equity issues to center content and expertise that align with the knowledge of People of Color as necessary precursors for faculty employment is currently understudied. Using a comparative case study of racial equity cluster hiring initiatives at six Historically White Serving Research 1 Universities, I seek to answer the following questions: (1) How do administrators, faculty, and staff initiating cluster hiring persuade their colleagues to use cluster hiring to promote racial equity? (2) How do administrators, faculty, and staff position faculty cluster hiring initiatives as valuable or necessary for the university? How are faculty cluster hiring initiatives resourced within the university? and (3) How do administrators, faculty, and staff use cluster hiring to decentralize preferences for White candidates and White credentials? Focusing on faculty cluster hiring will help higher education leaders create organizational mechanisms that legitimize content and expertise that address pressing equity issues.
About Román Liera
Liera, Roman
Román Liera is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Montclair State University. He studies how organizational mechanisms offer possibilities for institutional transformation while highlighting the conditions under which racism operates to undermine organizational structures, policies, and practices designed to advance racial equity. Specifically, he draws on organizational, sociocultural, and race theories to examine racism in doctoral student socialization, the academic job market, faculty hiring, reappointment, tenure and promotion, presidential hiring, and racial equity professional development. His research has appeared in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Researcher, Journal of Higher Education, Review of Higher Education, and Teachers College Record, among others. As a public scholar, he regularly advises administrative and faculty leaders at elite four-year universities, comprehensive public four-year universities, community colleges, and Hispanic Serving Institutions on equity-minded practices in evaluative contexts like hiring, retention, and admissions.

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