A Guide to the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement

The Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement (OVPFA) aims to nurture and promote a vibrant climate of inclusive excellence through creative collaboration with University partners. OVPFA’s primary focus is on fostering faculty development, diversity, planning, and community-building initiatives that will allow current and future faculty to thrive. 

Our vision is for Columbia to be the go-to place for the world’s greatest scholars. We imagine a University community that embodies inclusive excellence, where all faculty feel welcome and supported. We hope to foster a climate where faculty can confidently focus on their scholarship and teaching, and where there is growing space for collaboration and innovation across disciplines. We cannot achieve this without realizing our core values of inclusion and excellence.

Key Responsibilities

Faculty Diversity and Inclusion

Our office works in close collaboration with the University’s academic and administrative units to attract, advance, and retain a diverse faculty so that the composition of the University’s faculty can more closely reflect the national pools of qualified candidates. We also developed cluster hire programs in the areas of LGBTQ+ Scholarship, Race and Racism Scholarship, research support to accelerate STEM cluster hiring; and accelerated Target of Opportunity hiring ​​of underrepresented tenured or tenure-track faculty. Since 2012, the Faculty Diversity Initiative has provided seed grants for junior faculty who contribute to the diversity of the University, and in Spring 2018, a similar program was launched for mid-career faculty.

To date, over 180 Junior and Mid-Career Faculty grants have been awarded University-wide.

Inclusive Faculty Pathways

In addition to recruitment and retention efforts, the Inclusive Faculty Pathways initiative seeks to enhance pathways to the professoriate through programs, such as the Provost Postdoctoral Research Scientist and Scholar Program, that support under-resourced students. The Columbia University Pathways Programs group consists of colleagues who lead pathways efforts across the University and collaborate on programming.

More than 35 Bridge to the PhD in STEM Program scholars have been accepted into doctoral programs across the nation.

265 Provost Diversity fellowships have been awarded since 2012.

The OVPFA is committed to providing the tools necessary for our faculty to thrive throughout their careers. We work with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), we organize the Office of the Provost Faculty Orientation to introduce new faculty to central offices that support their success. We host the Faculty Development program for full-time faculty, which covers topics such as mentoring, networking, and tenure process.

In 2018, Columbia became an institutional member of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD), a nationally-recognized independent organization dedicated to supporting current and aspiring faculty to navigate their careers, with a particular focus on scholars who are underrepresented in their fields.

The OVPFA works with units to support programming that brings prominence to scholarship on issues of race, gender, sexuality, and other dimensions of diversity. Many of these events are spearheaded by our faculty.

The Office of Work/Life

The Office of Work/Life (OWL) is committed to supporting the well-being of Columbia University’s diverse community in their pursuit of meaningful and productive academic, personal, and work lives. The Office supports Columbia colleagues through all phases of life, education, and career, focusing on child care and schooling (including backup care); housing and relocation; faculty spouse/partner dual career search; well-being; adult/elder care; and breastfeeding support.

Key Partnerships

The Council was formed in the fall of 2012 and consists of a group of approximately 15 senior faculty from the Morningside and Medical Center campuses. Council members play a vital role in shaping the direction of the Faculty Diversity Initiative and also serve as diversity champions and thought leaders within their respective schools. The Council’s work has been instrumental in the development of the LGBTQ+ Scholarship Initiative, which was launched in fall 2014, as well as our Best Practices Guides.


The Diversity Officers Network is a collaborative space for learning, problem-solving, and sharing of DEI resources and best practices. Network members partner across schools, departments, institutes, and administrative units to drive institutional change, further promoting equity and inclusion.

History and Leadership

Jean Howard, the George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities, was appointed the first vice provost for diversity initiatives in 2004. In 2005, Columbia’s Trustees unanimously committed $15M to attract and retain outstanding underrepresented scholars to the A&S faculty and to address work-life issues. During Howard’s tenure, schools received resources to diversify faculty searches; Columbia’s first Office of Work/Life (OWL) was established; and the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC) was developed.

Geraldine Downey, professor of psychology, served as vice provost for diversity initiatives from 2007-2009. Under her leadership, the office extended its efforts to recruit underrepresented faculty across the entire university, and established a program to develop the faculty pipeline.                                                              

In 2010, the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives was expanded and renamed the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Planning under Professor and Vice Provost Andrew Davidson. In 2012, Columbia allocated $30M for the University-wide recruitment of women and underrepresented scholars.

Professor Dennis A. Mitchell was recruited in 2014 as Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity and Inclusion, and Columbia announced an additional $33M to support faculty recruitment, pipeline-building, and climate initiatives. In 2017, the University pledged an additional $100M to continue this work, with additional resources for recruitment and retention.

In 2019, the office was expanded and renamed the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, with further emphasis on faculty development and enhanced communications. The Office of Work/Life, under the leadership of Associate Provost Amy Rabinowitz, joined the Faculty Advancement portfolio.

In 2020, Faculty Advancement’s Addressing Racism Initiative included extensive programming and a Seed Grant initiative. The Trustees contributed $300,000 to help fund all submitted faculty projects. President Bollinger shared Columbia’s Commitment to Antiracism and convened a working group of University leaders to improve the experience of students, faculty, and staff. Faculty Diversity Initiative recruitments were accelerated.

In 2021, the Inclusive Faculty Pathways portfolio, including the new Provost Postdoctoral Research Scientist and Scholar Program, was launched under Associate Provost Adina Berrios Brooks. The Columbia University Pathways Programs, a group of colleagues who lead University pathways efforts, was formed.


Best Practices Guides

Guide to Equity-Based Graduate Admissions  (2022)

Office of the Provost LGBTQ+ Resource Guide  (2021)

Guides to Best Practices in:

Key Contacts

Faculty Advancement

Office of Work/Life