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APLU Receives NSF INCLUDES Pilot Grant for Program Aimed at Increasing Diversity of STEM Faculty

September 12, 2016

Washington, DC – In support of its effort to increase diversity among STEM faculty, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today announced it received a $300,000 pilot grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of its first-ever INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science) program.

Over the next two years, APLU INCLUDES will connect member institutions and expert partner organizations to learn from one another’s experiences and work in concert to expand the diversity of STEM faculty to include more underrepresented and traditionally underserved groups, consisting of women, members of minority racial and ethnic groups, persons with disabilities, and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds.  The association will focus its efforts in three areas over the initial two year period of the pilot program to:

  • Examine institutional efforts and practices to recruit, hire, and retain diverse STEM faculty. 
  • Identify and begin implementation of a series of transformative institutional activities aimed at increasing participation along the STEM pathways toward the professoriate in order to grow a more diverse pool of STEM students who can eventually become professors.
  • Evaluate the current data structures and metrics available to track the progress and success of STEM students from entry into postsecondary education through the professoriate.

“Increasing the diversity of STEM faculty now will help ensure that professors at public research universities better reflect the diversity of the overall population.  This will ultimately strengthen and expand the talent of our STEM faculty while also inspiring more students from underrepresented and underserved groups to enter STEM programs as part of a long-term effort to expand the pool of diverse faculty,” APLU President Peter McPherson said. “When students see someone who looks like them or comes from a similar background they are more likely to believe that they too can follow a similar path. APLU is pleased to draw on the strength of its membership and a network of national partners to ensure we undertake the most comprehensive and thoughtful approach to identify ways for public research university STEM faculty to be more diverse.  We hope to be able to work with our members to scale the most promising practices.”

Broadening participation within STEM faculty is widely seen as key to broadening student participation in STEM fields and cultivating a STEM workforce able to tackle 21st century problems.  Despite the centrality of diversity in learning and student success, efforts to increase underrepresented faculty have been largely unsuccessful, particularly in STEM.  APLU’s more than 230 members are particularly poised to achieve movement on this complex issue as they award a high number of STEM undergraduate and graduate STEM degrees and employ a significant number of STEM faculty. According to the National Science Board’s 2016 Science and Engineering Indicators, public research universities award 48 percent of all science and engineering undergraduate degrees, 40 percent of master’s degrees, and 65 percent of doctoral degrees.

NSF INCLUDES is aimed at improving access to STEM education and career pathways at the national scale, making them more widely inclusive to historically underserved populations. Over the next decade, NSF will expand the program, with the goal of developing a science and engineering workforce that better reflects the diversity of U.S. society.  NSF listed the creation of INCLUDES as one of its 10 Big Ideas for Future Investments in 2016. 

APLU is one of 37 recipients of NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilots, which are funded through two-year grants with the potential to deliver prototypes for bold, new models that broaden participation in STEM. They also include 11 grants for conferences that will explore the development of backbone organizations to support a national network of NSF INCLUDES alliance and partnerships.  Thirty-four public research universities that are APLU members are participating in 21 of the 37 NSF INCLUDES programs, further underscoring the commitment of public universities to ensuring all levels of education are open and available to everyone.

In addition to its membership of public research universities that spans all 50 U.S. states and three territories, APLU also assembled a team of national partners with strong records of success in distinct portions of the STEM pathways to help with the project’s activities. Many of the partners are already working with networks of multiple institutions to broaden their impact, while others are experts in a particular key area with potential for expansion.  APLU’s partners are: the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL); the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE); Big Ten Academic Alliance (formerly the Committee on Institutional Cooperation); the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS); the Florida Education Fund’s McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program; the Southern Regional Education Board State Doctoral Scholars Program; and the University of California Office of the President.

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