Race and Ethnicity Cluster Hire Initiative – 2nd Round

Call for Preliminary Proposals
Washington University in Saint Louis
Deadline May 1, 2021

The Cluster Hire Review Committee (CRC) invites schools and departments on the Danforth campus to submit a second round of proposals to hire faculty members whose research area focuses on race and/or ethnicity. We invite proposals for both faculty searches and target of opportunity hires (faculty hires done without a search).

Through this cluster hire initiative, Washington University in St. Louis aims to build a world-class research program on race and ethnicity. The University already boasts preeminent scholars engaging in path-breaking research on race and ethnicity and endeavors to further enhance the University’s distinction in this area. With this set of hires, the University will increase its capacity to examine some of the most pressing questions of our time; complement and advance the expertise of outstanding researchers and departments; and embed a suite of varied methodological approaches to race and ethnicity in the intellectual life of the Danforth campus. The real and tangible effects of this initiative will not be limited to faculty alone as students will gain greater opportunities to pursue rich inquiry in the fields of race and ethnicity. The success of this endeavor will be visible in not only the visionary research and innovative course designs but in the scope and scale of its impact in helping to forge an equitable and just future for our city, our nation, and our world.


The CRC is committed to running a transparent, fair process. Our call for proposals is an open one, and we welcome proposals from all fields. All of our schools contribute meaningfully to research on race and ethnicity using diverse methodological approaches, and we encourage proposals from all disciplines, departments, and schools. The CRC is dedicated to respecting the time and effort of all who submit proposals. Members of the CRC will recuse themselves from the review of proposals from their own principal academic units.  This is the second round of a multi-year initiative. The provost has authorized six searches or target of opportunity hires for the upcoming round. Proposals not chosen in in the first round may be resubmitted.

Proposals are due on May 1st, 2021. The CRC will select proposals they recommend for funding to the provost.  The provost will consult with the CRC co-chairs, and with the deans to take into consideration the strategic priorities of the schools when evaluating the CRC recommendations. By late May, selected proposals and approved target of opportunity recruitments will be announced. Individual search committees will then be convened at the departmental level and proceed with the hiring practices appropriate to the School. Cluster hiring best practices will inform the work of the hiring committee. A representative from the CRC will sit on each hiring committee as a voting member. The co-chairs of the committee will also be available for consultation.

All proposals will be evaluated according to the criteria below.


Any academic unit that holds tenure lines is eligible to submit a proposal.  Units that do not hold tenure lines may submit proposals in conjunction with a tenure-line holding unit.

We are interested in synergy and collaborations between units. Departments and schools may collaborate in proposing searches. National best practices do not suggest that joint appointments are recommended for assistant professors, but we encourage creative ways of engaging faculty across units, departments, and disciplines.

Proposals shall follow the structure described below, and not exceed 2500 words total.

Part 1: Proposal (1000 words)

  • Proposed positions should demonstrate the following four characteristics:
    • Contemporary and/or Social Valence: Research that addresses salient issues and may include (but is not limited to) policing, immigration and migratory issues, racial/ethnic disparities and equity, race and the city of St. Louis, the history and meaning of race, structural racism, and environmental racism.
    • Connectivity: Research that connects to Washington University’s existing early to mid-career faculty members and/or clusters of new faculty working in a particular area on race and/or ethnicity.
    • Methodological Supplementarity: Research that broadens and diversifies methodological approaches to the study of race and/or ethnicity at the University.
    • Distinction: Research that will add distinction to the national reputation of the department as a place of academic distinction in both research and teaching excellence.

The proposal should also:

  • Describe the scope of the impact of the proposed position’s research
  • Relate previous efforts, if any, for securing such a hire
  • Align with the strategic priorities of the department and School
  • Identify existing resources or infrastructure that may support this position

Part 2: Mentoring (500 words):

  • Define a mentoring plan appropriate to this position (for hires at the assistant and associate ranks)

Part 3: Hiring Plan (500 words)

  • Provide an expected hiring timeline and process
  • Strategy for addressing challenges in recruiting a robust and diverse candidate pool

Part 4: Job Announcement (500 words)

Target of Opportunity Hires

The CRC also invites proposals for target of opportunity hires that would not require a search. We request that the submissions include the candidate’s CV. Such proposals will speak to the above criteria and may also relate previous efforts, if any, for securing such a hire and indicate the likelihood that the candidate will accept an offer. Target hire proposals will be evaluated through  the same criteria outlined above and in accordance with noted Cluster Hire criteria. All target hires must follow their School’s procedural guidelines for target hires.

All searches will be expected to use the Interfolio search system, unless an exemption is requested and approved in advance. Target of opportunity hires that are approved need not use this system.

Both search and target of opportunity proposals that were not approved in the first round may be resubmitted again.


Cluster hires lines will be funded as follows: 100% by the central fiscal unit (CFU) for years 1-4; 50%/50% by the CFU and the School for years 5-7; in year 8, the Schools will absorb 100% of the cost. To retain faculty, Schools may apply to the cluster hire retention fund. Should the faculty member leave the University the line will revert to the CFU.

Consulting and Questions

At any point in the process, and especially as they are considering and crafting proposals, departments and schools are invited to consult with any member of the CRC for guidance.

Cluster Hire Review Committee Members

Beverly Wendland, Provost (Ex-officio)
David Ahn, Professor, Olin School of Business
Jean Allman, J.H. Hexter Professor in the Humanities, African & African-American Studies; Director, Center for the Humanities, College of Arts & Sciences
David Cunningham, Professor and Chair, Sociology, College of Arts & Sciences
Adrienne Davis, Vice Provost & William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, School of Law; Director, Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity 
Bettina Drake, Professor of Surgery, School of Medicine
Cynthia Feliciano, Professor, Sociology, College of Arts & Sciences
Joe Jez,  Spencer T Olin Professor in Biology and Chair, Biology; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, College of Arts & Sciences
Pauline Kim, Daniel Noyes Kirby Professor of Law, School of Law
Hedwig Lee, Professor, Sociology, College of Arts & Sciences; Associate Director, Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity (co-chair)
Stephanie Li, Lynne Cooper Harvey Distinguished Professor of English, College of Arts & Sciences
Eric Mumford, Rebecca & John Voyles Professor of Architecture, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Tim Portlock, Professor and Chair of Undergraduate Art, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Jon Silva, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering, McKelvey School of Engineering
Rodrigo Siqueira Reis, Professor; Associate Dean for Public Health, Brown School
Vetta Thompson, E. Desmond Lee Professor of Racial and Ethnic Diversity; Co-Director, Center for Community Health Partnership and Research, Institute for Public Health, Brown School
Geoff Ward, Professor, African & African-American Studies, College of Arts & Sciences; Associate Director, Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity
Rebecca Wanzo, Professor and Chair, Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies, College of Arts & Sciences (co-chair)
Carol Camp Yeakey, Marshall S. Snow Professor of Arts & Sciences, Education; Founding Director, Interdisciplinary Program in Urban Studies and Center on Urban Research & Public Policy, College of Arts & Sciences

Please submit proposals by using the Race and Ethnicity Cluster Hires Proposal Form.

For questions, please contact:
Hedwig Lee, co-chair
Rebecca Wanzo, co-chair