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20 Faculty Graduate APLU Co-led Aspire Leadership Academy

Twenty mid-career faculty from traditionally underrepresented groups graduated from the IAspire Leadership Academy last month. The program provides leadership development to STEM scholars from underrepresented groups, preparing them for senior university leadership positions in STEM fields. The IAspire Leadership Academy is part of Aspire Alliance’s Institutional Change Initiative, led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the University of Georgia, with the aim of boosting diversity and inclusion in STEM.

The academy is one pillar of diversity and inclusion work underway through the Aspire Alliance (formally known as the National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty). The National Science Foundation-backed alliance is working across post-secondary institutions to develop more inclusive institutional cultures supporting the access and success of all undergraduate STEM students, especially those from underrepresented groups.

“I am very grateful to have been chosen as an IAspire Fellow and to have participated in the year-long leadership program,” said Cynthia Y. Lester, Associate Dean of Computer Science and Engineering at Georgia State University. “The program exposed me to different ideas, increased my awareness of organizational leadership, and helped me see myself as a leader by giving me the confidence to authentically lead. But more than anything, I am tremendously grateful for the connections and friendships that I have made, which will last far beyond the program.”

“My participation in IAspire Leadership Academy has been life-changing on both a professional and personal level,” said Littisha Bates, Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Cincinnati. “Professionally, it has equipped me to be a better leader. I now understand much more intimately who I am as a leader and how to manage and navigate others while considering my own leadership style. On a personal level it has expanded my network of meaningful relationships with others in my cohort. We aren’t just members of cohort one, we are now a family.”

Shirley Malcom of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences gave the keynote at the ceremony. The fellows graduating the inaugural IAspire Leadership Academy cohort are:

  • Sharnnia Artis, Assistant Dean of Access and Inclusion, University of California, Irvine.
  • Littisha Bates, Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Cincinnati.
  • Jamie Coble, Associate Professor, Nuclear Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  • Marvin Doyley, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Rochester.
  • Wynter Duncanson, Assistant Dean of Outreach and Diversity, Biomedical Engineering, Boston University.
  • Alejandro Flores, Associate Professor, Geosciences, Boise State University.
  • Nikki Gavin, Dean of Mathematics and Engineering, Lane Community College.
  • Ali Gordon, Associate Dean of Graduate Affairs, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Central Florida.
  • Rachael Johnson, Manager of Strategic Recruitment Initiatives, Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, Colorado State University.
  • Blanca Lapizco Encinas, Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology.
  • Fernanda Leite, Associate Professor, Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Cynthia Lester, Associate Dean Computer Science and Engineering, Georgia State University.
  • Erika Marin-Spiotta, Professor, Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Kelly Nash, Associate Professor, Physics and Astronomy, Director of Kleberg Advanced Microscopy Center, University of Texas at San Antonio.
  • Victor Okhuysen, Professor, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
  • Wendy Reed, Dean, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota Duluth.
  • Abigail Richards, Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Montana State University.
  • Karinna Vernaza, Interim Dean, Mechanical Engineering, Gannon University.
  • Mark Weatherspoon, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Florida State University.
  • Michael Young, Associate Professor, Mathematics, Iowa State University.

In July, the Aspire Alliance announced a second cohort of fellows. Applications for a third cohort of fellows is expected to open early 2021.

  • Access & Diversity
  • STEM Education

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