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APLU & UW-Madison-Led Aspire Alliance Releases Brief on Improving the Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention of Diverse Faculty

Washington, DC – The Aspire Alliance today released a new brief outlining steps institutions can take and the culture they can create to boost faculty diversity and inclusion in STEM disciplines on their campuses. The Aspire Alliance, which the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and University of Wisconsin-Madison co-lead, is a National Science Foundation-funded initiative working to advance a diverse and inclusive STEM faculty through collaborative efforts at institutional, regional, and national levels.

The new brief, Leveraging Promising Practices: Improving the Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention of Diverse and Inclusive Faculty, lays out a series of interventions institutions can implement to create an institutional culture that promotes diversity and inclusion in STEM faculty. Yet the brief makes clear there is no silver bullet set of interventions to solve the problem. Prominent and sustained institutional commitment to solving the challenge, especially among senior leaders, is key to achieving progress.

“Advancing diversity and inclusion in STEM is imperative to address societal inequities and provide the future talent our nation needs. While public universities have been working on these problems for years, we see significant potential in collaborating at a national level,” said Howard Gobstein, Director of the Aspire Alliance and Executive Vice President at APLU. “We’ve seen a groundswell of interest in joining this work to broaden participation and we know that will only grow as the pace of progress improves in the months and years to come.”

“When we talk about new policies and practices to promote faculty diversity, institutional leaders want to know what the research says about what works,” said Kimberly Griffin, Co-Lead of Aspire’s Research Team & Professor of Education at University of Maryland. “In this brief, we provide administrators with an approachable synopsis of the literature along with a list of resources that allow them to take deeper dives into research on specific topics, challenges, and strategies for change.”

Leveraging Promising Practices examines interventions and culture through four frames: equipping individuals to successfully navigate and advance in the institution; creating equal opportunity to eliminate procedural and structural barriers that are biased; managing culture to address assumptions, norms, and practices that widen inequality; and valuing difference to foster innovation. The four-frame approach is key to supporting diversity and inclusion on campus. By citing a host of empirical research, the research notes advancing these critical values also facilitates discovery and innovation, fosters a more diverse public discourse, and cultivates more broadly educated students.

Today’s release comes on the heels of a report and guidebook APLU released on the subject last week. That report outlines a series of steps higher education leaders, researchers, and policymakers can collectively take to address loss points to better attract, retain, and develop individuals from underrepresented groups in the STEM faculty. The accompanying guidebook for institutions helps institutions self-assess their successes and challenges in advancing STEM faculty diversity.

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