The University of Guelph announced on Wednesday it was committing $3.6 million for a new hiring initiative to increase Black and Indigenous staffing levels.

The three-year initiative will see at least 15 Black and Indigenous faculty and four or more Black and Indigenous professional staff hired.

“The university is dedicated to cultivating an inclusive educational environment, underpinned by a talented and diverse community of scholars,” said Dr. Gwen Chapman, provost and vice-president in a media release.

The first step in the three-stage approach will begin this fall with the hiring of five people, with seven other people hired in each of the following two years.

The focus will be on recruiting and retaining Black and Indigenous scholars, as these groups are most underrepresented at the University, Chapman said.

The U of G said the positions will be filled in areas that support the advancement of Black and Indigenous academic excellence and the university’s goals for inclusion, anti-racism, indigenization and decolonization. They will be funded equally by the respective colleges/departments and the university.

The new initiative comes following the university’s announcement of a new inclusion plan commitment to inclusion, which saw the U of G introduce curriculum focused on Black Canadian studies and Indigenous environmental science.

“Cohort hires of Black and Indigenous faculty and staff are critical to the indigenization, equity, diversity, and inclusion work needed at U of G, but represent only a part of the work needed to address the racial equity gap and redress systemic anti-racism in higher education,” said Jade Ferguson, U of G’s inaugural associate dean of academic equity and anti-racism.