By Connor Ciecko
The University of Illinois announced on Wednesday that they would be increasing the funding to 15 Targets of Opportunity Program (TOP)-eligible new faculty members. According to the Office of the Provost, the TOP has the goal of “[attracting] leading faculty members among groups that are underrepresented by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, and veteran’ status.”
Increasing the number of faculty members from diverse communities is the number one point from the University’s “Next 150” strategic plan, and this, in part, seeks to address racial and social injustice in the state and nation.
The TOP program provides up to $85,000 of salary to an individual college for faculty members who come from an underrepresented background, and up to $60,000 if a department has a need for an additional faculty member and hires from the candidate pool.
In addition to the candidates who have already been found to be eligible, individual colleges can also select nominees for the program who must meet a number of different program criteria. According to the University’s TOP Communication Information Sheet, eligibility for the funding is determined by a candidate’s background, data from the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, and the type of position to be filled, and a department looking to request funding should “have a demonstrable record of promoting diversity.”
“All [departments] are encouraged and expected to develop the most diverse pool of candidates for their searches, and to leverage all opportunities to accelerate and increase their success in recruiting faculty of color,” said Andreas C. Cangellaris, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in a Massmail. “This investment in the TOP program offers our academic units an additional tool in their efforts to recruit and retain faculty of color and further the diversity of excellence here at Illinois.”
The “Next 150” plan was developed in 2018 as the primary strategic plan for the University. In addition to encouraging diversity, the plan also put and emphasis on “transformative learning experiences” and research excellence.