Narketta Sparkman-Key described the inaugural "Excite the Dream ODU" faculty recruitment program in 2020 as a "dating experience."
"We wanted people to 'date' us before they applied to see if they thought this would be a fit for them," said ODU's director of faculty diversity and retention in Academic Affairs.
So how does she characterize this year's virtual event, scheduled for Sept. 26 to 28?
"It's like online dating," she said. "We're doing the same thing. We want it to be personable. In this environment they can ask any kind of questions they want to ask about working at ODU that they wouldn't normally ask if they were in a job interview. It's really informal and allows them the time to get to know us but also for us to get to know them."
The program, sponsored by ODU's Office of Faculty Diversity and Retention, is designed to recruit and garner interest of underrepresented scholars planning to pursue careers in academia. Minorities comprise 28% of the faculty at the University.
Sparkman-Key said she will meet with the scholars on the first day of the program to let them know of open faculty positions at ODU, provide a virtual tour of campus and answer any questions they might have.
Day 2 will feature a talk by ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., and two panel discussions - one about faculty experiences at the University and the other about interviewing here.
Day 3 will be devoted to the colleges. "It will be an opportunity for these scholars to present their research to specific departments," Sparkman-Key said. "It's also the opportunity for them to interact with the dean, interact with the chair, interact with the faculty within departments they may be applying to."
Sparkman-Key researched what other colleges were doing before deciding on the format at ODU.
"I thought about how we could make this our own," she said. "How we could do something similar but make it more of an ODU experience."
As an example, she cited the interactions the scholars will have here.
"The other programs ... have like one event where they get to present their research, but they don't get that intimate time with chairs and deans and provosts and the president," Sparkman-Key said. "That's what makes our program different."
Seven scholars were selected for the in-person "Excite the Dream" program. But with this year's event being virtual, Sparkman-Key is hoping for a larger turnout that could expand the job-candidate pool.
The program is open to individuals completing a terminal degree by Sept. 2, 2022. The application deadline is Sept. 10.
For more information about the program and to apply, visit Excite the Dream ODU.