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APLU Announces Grants for Public Universities to Support STEM Faculty Diversity and Inclusion

December 10, 2020

Washington, DC – The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) co-led Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty today announced two new grants to groups of universities and partners to catalyze collaborative efforts to deepen the use of inclusive STEM teaching practices and increase diversity among STEM faculty. The grants, part of Aspire’s IChange Initiative, are designed to help participating institutions advance effective practices that address institutional barriers to a more diverse STEM faculty.

“We know far too many institutional barriers still prevent scholars from underrepresented backgrounds from becoming faculty in STEM fields,” said Travis York, APLU’s Assistant Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs, “We’re thrilled to announce two new funding awards for collaborative multi-institutional projects that will deepen the support network for underrepresented scholars through culturally responsive mentoring and build the evidence base for best practices on faculty hiring.”

Aspire is awarding a catalytic-funding grant to a group of universities working to provide improved mentoring experiences for faculty from underrepresented groups. The virtual effort will be led by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and include Ball State University, Cleveland State University, the University of Cincinnati, Iowa State University, and Michigan State University. The project will create a regional network providing culturally responsive training to mentors who help develop STEM faculty from underrepresented groups. It will connect mentor and mentee STEM faculty across institutions participating in the initiative, placing emphasis on career development opportunities for women of color. The catalytic grant, which is $40,000, will add support for the network through 2023.

To further support STEM faculty diversity, Aspire today announced another catalytic-funding grant to support research on the use of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statements in faculty hiring. DEI statements are widely used in higher education, but little research exists on their efficacy or how to maximize their impact in boosting diversity and inclusion. Cleveland State University will lead the study while collaborating with Iowa State University, the University of Oregon, and the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. The new research will examine the use of such statements at the three universities and assess perceptions of their use on campuses. The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education will also conduct a national survey of the use of DEI statements as well. The study will take place over the next two and a half years, culminating in findings being published in a white paper. As part of the effort, the group will draw on this research to create an institutional toolkit for building effective DEI statements and rubrics. The catalytic grant is $35,000.

The catalytic-funding grants, part of Aspire’s Institutional Change Initiative led by APLU, will help advance the alliance’s efforts to deepen the preparation of all STEM faculty to be inclusive and effective in their teaching, research mentoring, and advising; diversify the faculty through effective recruitment, hiring, and retention of URG STEM faculty via institutional transformation in practices, policies, and resources; and foster institutional cultures that recognize and value inclusivity and diversity broadly, and in the context of STEM faculty work specifically.

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