University of Florida joins national alliance aimed at developing a more inclusive and diverse STEM faculty
The University of Florida today announced it is one of 20 universities joining a three-year institutional change effort to develop inclusive faculty recruitment, hiring, and retention practices. The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities co-leads the effort, known as Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty. The new cohort joins an inaugural set of 15 institutions that began working together to advance such work earlier this year. The National Science Foundation funds the effort as part of its INCLUDES initiative.
Aimed at ensuring all STEM faculty use inclusive teaching practices and that institutions increase the diversity of their STEM professoriate, participating universities begin their work with a self-assessment of current practices and assets. The institutions will then develop and implement campus action plans to drive change and scale such efforts across all their STEM programs.
“We believe inclusion, diversity, equity and access in our STEM faculty enable us to deliver the best possible educational experience and are critical to our research excellence,” said Antonio Farias, UF’s Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Advisor to the President. “An inclusive and diverse STEM faculty taps our creativity, drives high performing teams, and creates measurable impacts and outcomes for our students, the Florida workforce and the communities we serve.”
The Aspire Alliance, which APLU and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison facilitate with the involvement of several universities, is engaging the new cohort of 20 universities through its Institutional Change (IChange) Network. The network provides universities with comprehensive support and resources for institutional change, including access to national partners in a concierge-style approach to technical assistance.
“Recruiting, hiring, and retaining more inclusive and diverse STEM faculty on our campuses is essential for the increased success of all STEM students, the increased quality and production of our scientists, and public universities’ ability to achieve their mission to improve lives,” said Travis York, APLU’s Assistant Vice President, Academic and Student Affairs, who is also co-leader of the IChange Network. “Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion within a project aimed at catalyzing large-scale innovation and change is extremely difficult – which is why we’re thrilled to announce a new cohort of institutions committed to working collaboratively to do exactly that on their campuses.”
“We are excited to have these 20 impressive universities expand the IChange Network and bring their deep commitment to transforming STEM education,” said Tonya Peeples, Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion of the Penn State College of Engineering and co-leader of the Alliance’s IChange Network. “Learning from and alongside our exceptional first cohort, this second cohort will grow our potential to identify and share the most promising innovative practices towards diversifying the STEM professoriate and ensure their teaching, advising, and mentoring is inclusive. All of this will help ensure the success of underrepresented groups in STEM fields.”
Despite the centrality of diversity in learning and student success, efforts to increase underrepresented faculty have not been as successful as intended, particularly in STEM. A 2019 NSF analysis revealed that underrepresented minority faculty occupied a mere nine percent of professorships in STEM fields at four-year institutions. Other research shows when underrepresented students are taught by diverse faculty members they achieve at significantly higher rates; as much as 20 to 50 percent of the course achievement gaps between minority and majority students are eliminated.
The other public research universities in the new cohort are Auburn University; Ball State University; Central Michigan University; Florida International University; Iowa State University; North Dakota State University; South Dakota State University; the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; the University of Texas at Austin; University of Arkansas; University of California, Davis; University of Cincinnati; University of Georgia; University of Missouri; the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; University of North Carolina at Charlotte; University of North Texas; University of South Florida; and Western Michigan University.