UMD Joins Efforts to Make STEM Faculty More Inclusive and Diverse

M Circle

Article by Jaime Williams

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), has announced 19 public research universities, University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) being one of them, that will join a three-year institutional change effort to develop inclusive faculty recruitment, hiring, and retention practices.

APLU co-leads the effort, known as Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty. The newly announced cohort is joining two prior cohorts.

The other 18 universities that will be joining the ranks are: Appalachian State University; California Polytechnic State University, Pomona; Grand Valley State University; Jackson State University; Lehigh University; Louisiana Tech University; Mississippi State University; Pennsylvania State University; Stevens Institute of Technology; Temple University; The Ohio State University; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of Denver; University of Louisiana at Lafayette; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; University of Pittsburgh; Utah State University; and Virginia Tech.

All three cohorts combined will bring the number of institutions participating in this national alliance to 54.

The work of this project will be aimed at ensuring all STEM faculty use inclusive teaching practices and that institutions increase the diversity of their STEM professoriate. Participating universities will begin their work with a self-assessment of current practices and assets. Then, the institutions will develop and implement campus action plans to drive change and scale such efforts across all their STEM programs.

The Aspire Alliance is engaging the new cohort through its Institutional Change (IChange) Network. The network provides universities with comprehensive support and resources for institutional change, including access to national partners in a concierge-style approach to technical assistance.

Linda Steiner, Director of the UMD ADVANCE program and lead on the project, said, "I am very excited to work with the IChange staff and with other universities in our cohort over the next three years to develop and implement a really ambitious action plan in STEM departments and colleges. Indeed, the goal is to build on faculty diversity hiring initiatives launched by the University and ADVANCE and to leverage successes in STEM to the benefit of the entire University."

Diversity and inclusion is a goal that many institutions share, but increasing the number of faculty members from underrepresented groups in STEM has proven particularly challenging.  According to a 2019 NSF analysis, underrepresented minority faculty held a mere 9 percent of professorships in STEM fields at four-year institutions.

Other research shows that when underrepresented students are taught by diverse faculty members they achieve at significantly higher rates; as much as 20 to 50 percent of the course achievement gaps between minority and majority students are eliminated.

For additional information, see the press release by the APLU.