Faculty Competitive Search Waivers


Date:     9 June 2020
To:          Department Chairs and Department Business Managers
From:    Ann J. Brown, MD, MHS, Vice Dean for Faculty
               James E. Tcheng, MD, Assistant Dean for Appointments, Promotion and Tenure
               Billy Newton Jr., Vice Dean for Finance and Resource Planning
Re:         Faculty Competitive Search Waivers

As a federal contractor, Duke is required to assure compliance with the laws and regulations requiring nondiscrimination in our hiring practices, with enforcement of this obligation being the responsibility of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Duke’s obligations broadly fall into two categories: 1) ensure equal opportunity in our hiring process and 2) maintain records to document a fair and compliant search process. 

The expectation is that a competitive search will be held for every faculty position and that exceptions to forego an open recruitment will be limited. While an acceptable option, a waiver of open recruitment deviates from Duke University hiring guidelines and regulatory obligations and must be carefully considered.  Documentation of exceptions to the general requirement of a competitive search must include a detailed rationale to justify the selection of an individual without an open posting process.

As you know, requests for waivers are submitted through the Duke Medicine Recruitment (DMR) system and reviewed and approved by the Dean. While in the past there has only been a general guidance provided about the faculty recruitment process, the following changes are being made to better assure compliance with an open faculty recruitment process.

First, we have identified the potential reasons where a waiver request may be warranted:

  • Department has needs that are uniquely met by the individual (e.g., expertise, special competencies, patient panel, interest in a specific practice location)
  • Individual has unique interests, qualifications, and skills such that a search would not yield other candidates with those same prerequisites (research focus or program, grant awards)
  • Individual is a known entity who has grant funding awarded to Duke University, or where the individual is already integral to a faculty member's research program
  • Individual is a known entity hired to fill a vacating position, where the individual is exceptional and it is unlikely that a better candidate will be identified (e.g., graduating fellows)
  • Non-competitive spousal / partner hire where the individual is the spouse / partner of a faculty candidate with expertise sought by the Department who was identified via a national search
  • Individual identified via a compliant competitive search conducted by an affiliated entity, to fill a position at that entity (e.g., VA clinician identified through the VA open recruitment process)

Second, we have drafted a search waiver letter template for waiver requests. This updated version is to replace the template you are currently using. The waiver letter template includes the list above as a prompt to help in the authoring of waiver request letters. In general, waiver letters should follow this format:

  1. First describe the programmatic needs and the target capabilities of your Department.
  2. Then describe the characteristics, qualifications, and competencies of the candidate, emphasizing the uniqueness of the candidate for fulfilling the identified programmatic needs and target capabilities. 

Finally, a component of the demonstration of compliance is the reporting of the demographics of all prospective employees, including those being recruited for faculty positions. Pursuant to regulations, all positions, including those being filled by waiver, must be posted, with applications submitted through an electronic applicant tracking system. Applicants must be invited to self-identify demographics including gender, race, ethnicity, veteran, and disability status. Search and selection related records must be kept and preserved for at least 2 years and be available to the OFCCP for compliance review. We are currently evaluating an electronic information solution to capture and track the demographics of faculty applicants. This system will become the key first step in the faculty offer process and will augment our ability to disseminate and communicate information about faculty openings. We anticipate this transformation to occur in the latter part of 2020. In the interim, please continue reporting the demographics of new faculty hires per the current process.

Please share this memo with all relevant faculty and administrative staff.

cc:         Center/Institute Directors and Managers 

              Kimberly D. Hewitt, Vice President for Institutional Equity

              Office for Institutional Equity