A New Name and New Beginnings: The Minority Faculty Development Caucus

By Keneshia Bryant, PhD, RN, FNP-BC,
Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, and
Michael Preston, PhD(c), MPH

Director, Cancer Control Outreach Center

Michael Preston, PhD(c), MPH, 
Director, Cancer Control Outreach Center

Keneshia Bryant, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor, 
College of Nursing 

Despite numerous reports on the importance of employing a racially and ethnically diverse faculty, there has been sparse change at UAMS in the proportion of minority faculty, particularly underrepresented minorities (URM) – African Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans (American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians), Pacific Islanders, and mainland Puerto Ricans.

Faculty play a critical role in the education, research, and service functions of institutions of higher education from teaching to knowledge development to university governance. At UAMS, URM faculty make up less than 10 percent of the total faculty body.

The Faculty Diversity and Community Outreach (FDCO) Program was formed in 2001 through the support of the UAMS Office of Minority Affairs, the Arkansas Special Populations Access Network grant, and the UAMS Office of Faculty Affairs. The program was designed to increase minority faculty recruitment and retention at the UAMS College of Medicine through networking, mentoring, and skill building. As a collaborative effort to unite minority faculty across all the UAMS colleges and to recruit and retain minority faculty from various healthcare fields, the FDCO has now transitioned to the Minority Faculty Development Caucus (MFDC). The MFDC is supported through the UAMS Center for Diversity Affairs (CDA).

The goal of the MFDC is to support all minority faculty at UAMS through professional development, mentorship, skill building, advocacy, and networking. The MFDC strives to substantially increase minority faculty recruitment and retention at UAMS and thereby, help address health inequities faced by minority populations at a local, state, and national level. The MFDC seeks to establish an environment at UAMS that promotes career advancement among minority faculty, trainees, and students.

With new beginnings comes new leadership. Starting in January, Brooke E.E. Montgomery, PhD, MPH, assistant professor in the College of Public Health, serves as the president. Keneshia Bryant, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, assistant professor in the College of Nursing, serves as the vice president, and Nancy Greer-Williams, PhD, MPH, assistant professor in the College of Medicine, serves as treasurer. Billy Thomas, MD, MPH, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, and Michael Preston, PhD(c), MPH, director of the Cancer Control Outreach Center and former director of FDCO, serve as the organization’s advisors.

To address the goals of the organization, three committees have been formed, which focus on programs, tenure and promotion, and research and scholarship.

The purpose of the programs committee is nurturing the development of minority faculty as they progress from junior to senior faculty. The goal of the tenure and promotion committee is to foster mentoring that spans cultural groups – majority and minority – to encourage appreciation of the values and knowledge that all have to share.

The research committee is dedicated to increasing the number of minority investigator-initiated research through collaborations and partnerships involving UAMS and other academic institutions.

All minority faculty are invited to join the FDCO. For more information, contact Dr. Montgomery or Dr. Bryant. The organization’s next meeting will be held this fall.