UCSC faculty member co-chaired APA task force on obstacles to promotion, tenure, and retention for psychology faculty of color

portrait of Margarita Azmitia
Professor Margarita Azmitia

Psychology Professor Margarita Azmitia co-chaired an American Psychological Association (APA) task force that was appointed by the organization’s Board of Scientific Affairs and the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology to report on obstacles to promotion, tenure, and retention for psychology faculty of color. 

“I accepted the invitation to serve on this task force because of my commitment to diversify the academy and recruit, retain, and promote faculty of color in psychology,” Azmitia said. “And I was drawn by the opportunity to work for two years with colleagues from around the country who shared this commitment.”

The task force recently released their final report on the topic, which captures the myriad obstacles that college and university faculty of color in psychology face in their pursuit of promotion and tenure. Those challenges include disproportionate financial constraints from student loans and limited research funding, the expectation to engage in “invisible labor” in support of campus DEI efforts, workplace issues like microaggressions and social isolation, and mismatch between what institutions value in the promotion process and what faculty members themselves value in their work. 

The report also offers recommendations to address these issues including: 

  • Providing faculty of color with effective, engaged mentoring from the time of hire through promotion, tenure, and advancement across all domains important to the institution
  • Reviewing promotion and tenure processes to evaluate the presence of implicit biases
  • Educating department colleagues and academic administrators about the prevalence and scope of invisible labor expectations and demands, and their toll on faculty of color
  • Including metrics beyond traditional metrics such as citation counts to evaluate impact of a promotion or tenure candidate’s work
  • Expanding the definition of scholarly excellence to include contributions to the public good
  • Identifying policies and procedures to address the conditions in an academic department that lead to attrition and retention challenges for faculty of color.

“It is imperative to act upon these findings and work towards fostering an inclusive and equitable academic environment where all faculty members, regardless of their racial or ethnic background, can thrive and contribute to the advancement of the field,” the report concludes.