Affirmative Action Policy


(Approved by the Council of Presidents at its meeting on May 5, 2003)

The City University of New York's strength lies in its people. We are proud that our students represent a variety of cultures, backgrounds and ideas. As noted in our master plan, CUNY's goals include

... the University's continuing commitment to workforce diversity and development. The statutory charge defined by the New York State Education Law, to create a diverse workforce that reflects the unique population that the University serves, is as necessary and important today as it was decades ago. To this end, the University will continue to act aggressively to adopt policies and procedures designed to ensure that all qualified individuals are given full and fair opportunity to be represented in the workforce.

In keeping with this principle, CUNY aspires to increase the diversity of its workforce and to become more than a multi-cultural institution; it strives to be a genuinely inclusive community, one where those with differing backgrounds and allegiances feel valued, and one where civility, respect and reasoned debate prevail.

Consistent with the Master Plan, an initiative to reframe and reinvigorate the University's affirmative action and diversity programs is appropriate for consideration at this time. Statistics show that CUNY's overall employment statistics compare favorably with those of other colleges and universities. However, there are still pockets within the University where women and traditional minority group members are conspicuous by their absence. The City University of New York is uniquely positioned to address the challenge this presents and become a leader in employing a truly diverse workforce. By reaching out to the broader metropolitan community and to targeted groups in the academic disciplines, and by encouraging the development of our current staff, CUNY should be able to increase the diversity of its workforce in all titles over the next few years. This is a particularly timely initiative since we are currently experiencing turnover due to early retirements, and have committed to replacing faculty who directly impact on the delivery of instruction to our students. In pursuit of these goals therefore, we are recommending the following processes and guidelines, which are based on best practices both within CUNY and throughout the nation.


All research shows that success with diversity initiatives requires strong leadership from the top executives of the organization. To that end, we recommend that each President:

  • Reaffirm support for the principles of workforce diversity, equal employment opportunity and affirmative action.
  • Publish annually a written statement that promulgates the President's commitment to workforce diversity.
  • Expand the annual Pluralism and Diversity Report to include a Workforce Diversity Plan which identifies areas where focused efforts to increase workforce diversity will be undertaken.
  • Require demonstrated experience and skills in managing diversity as a standard qualification for all leadership positions.
  • Require all executives to reflect the President's commitment in their day-to-day activities.
  • Support the office responsible for Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity by providing sufficient staff to perform the day-to-day operations of the office.

Furthermore, it is recommended that each campus:

  • Ensure diversity of staff in all categories, particularly among executives.
  • Provide training to all executives and managers to develop a shared and inclusive understanding of diversity and to create a welcoming climate on campus.


Broad outreach to a wide audience will increase the chances that candidates will be drawn from diverse pools of applicants. Colleges must understand that broad outreach is absolutely required in any unit wherein underutilization exists. To enhance the diversity of the pool it is recommended that each college:

  • Participate in minority job fairs and other professional meetings, conferences and seminars with the goal of reaching underrepresented groups.
  • Utilize Internet minority job sites for broad outreach and/or targeted recruitment.
  • Establish linkages with PhD programs at institutions that produce significant numbers of diverse PhD recipients.
  • Consider creating joint appointments between ethnic studies departments and other departments to broaden the opportunity for curriculum enhancement and to increase minority faculty interaction with the entire student body.
  • Consider Visiting Professor exchanges with historically black colleges and universities and other sources to broaden faculty interaction and enhance the student academic experience.

Furthermore, the University should develop, in consultation with each college, an informational brochure that highlights the University's diversity. The brochure will be distributed at conferences, used in on-site interviews, and made available on the University's website.


A well-designed search and selection process is key to ensuring fair and equitable employment practices. In order to ensure attainment of this goal, we recommend that each campus:

  • Have well qualified, knowledgeable and representative (diverse) search committees.
  • Prepare the job description and submit a Vacancy Notice for any position the college wishes to fill on an acting or substitute basis.
  • Conduct searches as quickly as possible and establish committees of a manageable size.
  • Designate a member of the college affirmative action committee and/or a representative from the Office of HR to participate on all HEO and ECP search committees.

o Train search committees in recruitment and interview techniques.

  • Charge search committees with references to the workforce profile and the Workforce Diversity Plan.
  • Standardize a process whereby the President, or his/her designee, interviews finalists from all faculty and ECP searches.


A sincere commitment by a college or university to recruit minorities also entails a commitment to fairness in supporting those employees once they have been hired. As a result we recommend that colleges consider activities such as the following:

  • Create programs for new faculty that provide mentoring and support.
  • Conduct periodic exit interviews and job satisfaction surveys that assess the climate at the institution, especially for employees from underrepresented groups.
  • Provide workshops for the development of adjunct faculty.
  • Establish college-wide initiatives to increase inter-departmental connections.
  • Establish special faculty development days to enhance faculty collaboration and professional advancement.
  • Acknowledge achievements made by minority and female employees.
  • Establish a teaching center that functions under the sponsorship of the College's Office of Academic Affairs to promote development and excellence in the profession of college teaching where faculty can come to plan, learn and collaborate
  • Offer competitive grants to interested faculty in the areas of research, development and technical initiatives.
  • Consider workload adjustment for new faculty.

Furthermore, OFSR will continue the Faculty Fellowship Publication Program that is designed to assist in preparing publications that will meet the requirements for tenure; and the Diversity Projects Development Fund that is created to support scholarly projects and other creative endeavors which promote diversity and multiculturalism.


A key element to ensuring the success of any organizational initiative - especially a diversity initiative - is accountability. To achieve this goal we recommend that each college:

  • Monitor its progress against the goals defined in the Workforce Diversity Plan and report its results to the Chancellor or his designee annually.
  • Link efforts to achieve diversity to executive goals and targets.

Furthermore, it is recommended that the Chancellor include such efforts to achieve diversity as a component in the establishment of Presidential goals and targets.

Last Updated: 6/13/05