New leadership development program aims to increase retention of under-represented faculty and staff

This year, Calvin is piloting a leadership development program designed for faculty and staff of color. One major goal of the program is to boost retention of these staff and faculty and encourage them to consider leadership roles within the institution. 

Spearheaded by Michelle Loyd-Paige, executive associate to the president for diversity and inclusion, the program involves readings, cohort mentoring, monthly meetings and an active Teams channel for further discussion. The first cohort includes three faculty and seven staff members. 

Loyd-Paige envisions the program being run indefinitely, but the structure may change. “We’re piloting it to see if we have the rhythm right, if we have the readings right, if we have the topics right,” she said. 

According to Loyd-Paige, affinity groups like this one are an important way to increase retention among students, staff and faculty of color. 

“You can feel pretty isolated on a campus like Calvin,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just nice to connect with someone who looks like you, especially if there’s a lot of emotional labor that’s going into being in a predominantly white institution.”

Current Calvin data shows that among employees with regular and fixed-term contracts, 756 identify as white, 39 as Asian, 31 as Black and five as American Indian/Alaska Native. Among those in leadership roles — which includes the president’s cabinet and employees who report directly to members of the cabinet — 13% identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color. 

The number of faculty and staff of color remains fairly steady at Calvin, but the people who make up that proportion aren’t necessarily the same year to year, according to Loyd-Paige. 

Loyd-Paige said that there’s not just one reason that causes faculty and staff of color to leave Calvin for opportunities elsewhere. 

“There are the reasons that people will tell you. They could say ‘Oh, it’s a great job opportunity,’ and it might be a great job opportunity. But there might be other variables that are in play as well that people might not want to share,” Loyd-Paige said. 

Her hope is that the program will help faculty and staff of color see possibilities for professional advancement at Calvin. “This is about leadership development, but we’re really focusing on the person and trying to build up confidence within individuals,” she said.