Our Work

Howard Gobstein
Aspire Director

Jessica Bennett, Ph.D.
IChange Initiative Co-Lead


Robin Parent, Ph.D.
Aspire Backbone Co-Lead & Aspire Project Manager


Kacy Redd, Ph.D.
Backbone Co-Lead

Levi Shanks, Ph.D.
IChange Network Manager

Rifa Ariella
Program Associate

Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty

APLU Impact

  • APLU, along with five collaborative partners, is leading the NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance—a 6-year, $11 million NSF-funded effort to diversify STEM faculty and promote more inclusive practices.
  • Aspire engages a growing network of partners to support systemic change in the STEM higher education ecosystem.

The Approach of the NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance

The NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance is pursuing three mutually reinforcing strategic goals focused on faculty

  1. Prepare current and future STEM faculty to be more inclusive and effective in their undergraduate teaching, research mentoring, and advising;
  2. Diversify the faculty by effectively recruiting, hiring, and retaining underrepresented STEM faculty and transforming practices, policies, and resources to support these efforts; and
  3. Foster institutional cultures that recognize and value inclusivity and diversity broadly.

The overarching strategy of Aspire is to affect change by aligning and reinforcing professional development and hiring practices of STEM faculty at institutional, regional, and national levels.

  • Institutional Change: Building communities of practice, both within and across institutions, to address inclusive hiring and retention practices. Institutions are conducting self-assessment exercises and developing action plans within a cohort of institutions. Key programs include: IAspire Leadership Academy; Institutional Change (IChange) Network; and IThrive Collective
  • Regional Change: Building regional networks of 2- and 4-year institutions and the private sector. These groups are focusing on preparing, developing, and on-boarding skilled and diverse faculty in 2-year colleges where many underrepresented students begin higher education. Aspire is supporting 6 Regional Collaboratives; two in California, two in Texas, and one in Florida and Iowa.
  • National Change: Developing resources about inclusive teaching, research mentoring, and advising while partnering with national organizations to promote these inclusive and diverse experiences. Key activities include: Inclusive Professional Framework and Aspire Summer Institute

Together, these efforts are creating a national systemic change environment for STEM faculty.

Aspire Backbone

APLU serves as the home of Aspire’s Backbone team which helps to support our many cooperative partners in coordinating and advancing the collective work of the Alliance and its partners. Contact our backbone team here:

Institutional Change

APLU leads the Institutional Change Initiative (IChange). IChange focuses on building the capacity of current and future institutional leaders to improve how institutions look, act, and feel for underrepresented group faculty.

IChange Activities

Communities of Practice, Learning and Support

IChange Network

The IChange Network is a community of practice focused on supporting leaders through data-informed, people-focused self-assessment and action planning processes. Our core focus is on institution-wide changes that create the organizational conditions for diverse and inclusive faculty to succeed.

IAspire Leadership Academy

The IAspire Leadership Academy, run out of University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, is a learning community and training experience that helps aspiring leaders who are currently under-represented STEM faculty develop their leadership competencies to advance to administrative positions in the academy.

IThrive Collective

The IThrive Collective is a community of support for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and ally faculty to collectively inform the work of institutional transformation in service of greater diversity and inclusion.

Tools for Transforming Institutions

At the core of our IChange efforts is the Institutional Model for Faculty Diversity, developed as part of the APLU INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot. In consultation with our members and subject matter experts, we developed the model and a two-part self-assessment to support institutions in identifying areas for improvement. You can access those tools here.

To learn more about the NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance, visit www.aspirealliance.org.

The NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance is cooperatively led by:

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This material is based upon work by the Eddie Bernice Johnson INCLUDES Aspire Alliance and related ADVANCE projects supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. (1834518, 1834522, 1834510, 1834513, 1834526, 1834521, 2121930, 2121950, 2204380). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. 

Featured Project & Initiative

The Data Literacy Institute – a partnership between APLU and the Association for Institutional Research with funding from Ascendium – brings together cross-departmental teams from 11 Powered by Publics institutions from Cluster 14 to engage in training that enhance their use of data to improve equitable student outcomes. In May 2022, Powered by Publics held […]

Featured Publication

2022 APLU Annual Report