September 26, 2021

thesopranosblog

It's Your Education

App State joins national alliance to develop more diverse, inclusive STEM faculty

BOONE, N.C — Appalachian State University is one of 19 universities joining a three-year effort — known as Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty — to increase the diversity of its STEM faculty through inclusive recruitment, hiring and retention practices, and ensure all STEM faculty engage in inclusive teaching, advising and research mentoring.

“Under Chancellor Sheri Everts’ leadership, Appalachian has, for many years, recognized the importance of creating a more diverse and inclusive faculty. Increasing the diversity of STEM faculty will help us develop even stronger recruitment and retention of students in those areas, and will contribute to exciting new areas of research and outreach.”

App State Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Heather Norris

App State’s co-leaders for the Aspire Alliance project are Dr. Tracie Salinas, professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and director of the Reich College of Education’s Math and Science Education Center; and Dr. Susan Colby, professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and director of faculty professional development in the Center for Academic Excellence. App State Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Heather Norris is the signatory for the university’s participation in the alliance.

View larger image

Appalachian State University’s Dr. Tracie Salinas, left, and Dr. Susan Colby are the lead faculty on App State’s participation in a three-year effort to develop diverse and inclusive STEM faculty at the university. This effort is known as Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty. Salinas is a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and the director of the Reich College of Education’s Math and Science Education Center. Colby is a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the director of faculty professional development in the Center for Academic Excellence. Photos by Marie Freeman

Appalachian State University’s Dr. Tracie Salinas, top, and Dr. Susan Colby are the lead faculty on App State’s participation in a three-year effort to develop diverse and inclusive STEM faculty at the university. This effort is known as Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty. Salinas is a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and the director of the Reich College of Education’s Math and Science Education Center. Colby is a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the director of faculty professional development in the Center for Academic Excellence. Photos by Marie Freeman

Norris said, “Under Chancellor Sheri Everts’ leadership, Appalachian has, for many years, recognized the importance of creating a more diverse and inclusive faculty. The Aspire Alliance will provide us with meaningful connections to other institutions with whom we can collaborate to develop innovative approaches to recruitment and retention of diverse faculty in STEM.”

She added, “Increasing the diversity of STEM faculty will help us develop even stronger recruitment and retention of students in those areas, and will contribute to exciting new areas of research and outreach.”

This new group of 19 institutions joins two earlier groups that are currently collaborating through Aspire Alliance’s Institutional Change (IChange) Network to advance such diversity and inclusion work, bringing the total number of participating institutions to 54. The network provides comprehensive support and resources for institutional change, including access to national partners.

“When we fail to include a variety of voices, we are missing an opportunity for increased innovation, new solutions and new perspectives. Our programs, scholarship and community engagement are all strengthened by intentionally drawing on more voices.”

App State’s Dr. Tracie Salinas, professor of mathematical sciences, director of the Math and Science Education Center and co-leader for the university’s participation in the Aspire Alliance IChange Network

After performing a self-assessment of current practices and assets, participating universities will develop and implement campus action plans to drive change and scale such efforts across all of their STEM programs. The goals are as follows:

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

Salinas said the university’s participation in the Aspire Alliance IChange Network will provide App State with a higher education community with which to share models, strategies and ideas, as well as a variety of tools that can be used to inform and evaluate current, on-campus initiatives designed to increase underrepresented faculty.

She added, “This participation gives us a visibility within the arena of diversity in STEM as well, increasing our ability to connect to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and prospective faculty applicants.”

Opportunity for improvement

A 2019 National Science Foundation (NSF) analysis revealed that underrepresented minority faculty occupied only 9% of professorships in STEM fields at four-year higher education institutions.

Research shows when underrepresented students are taught by diverse faculty members they achieve at significantly higher rates — as much as 20% to 50% of the gaps in academic performance between marginalized and nonmarginalized students are eliminated.

Salinas said, “Too often the work of increasing diversity of underrepresented groups among university faculty and staff is addressed as simply ‘getting numbers up.’ However, when we fail to include a variety of voices, we are missing an opportunity for increased innovation, new solutions and new perspectives. Our programs, scholarship and community engagement are all strengthened by intentionally drawing on more voices.”

Aspire Alliance, co-led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is supported by a five-year, $10 million NSF INCLUDES Alliance grant.

What do you think?

Share your feedback on this story.

Aspire Alliance IChange Network members — third group

  • Appalachian State University.
  • California Polytechnic State University.
  • 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 Maryland, College Park.
  • University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
  • University of Pittsburgh.
  • Utah State University.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Increasing diversity of STEM faculty, students

In addition to joining the Aspire Alliance IChange Network initiative, App State has implemented programs and initiatives aimed at increasing diversity of STEM faculty and students, including the following:

  • ADVANCE APPALACHIAN, an NSF grant-funded program designed to promote gender equity in STEM fields at App State, with an emphasis on women from underrepresented populations. App State was awarded nearly $1 million in grant funding for the project.
  • Students for Inclusive Excellence in STEM, a student-run club housed in the university’s Department of Physics and Astronomy that focuses on educating and promoting inclusive excellence and diversity in all STEM departments through outreach and departmental involvement.
  • Appalachian High Achievers in STEM, a program that provides both financial and academic support to students in specific STEM fields (chemistry, computer science, geology, applied mathematics and physics) to help them succeed in these majors. The program, funded through 2022, is designed for financially needy and academically talented students and is supported by an NSF S-STEM grant.
App State awarded nearly $1M grant to ADVANCE APPALACHIAN women in STEM academic careers

Sep. 18, 2020

The National Science Foundation has awarded Appalachian $995,509 in grant funding to implement ADVANCE APPALACHIAN — a program designed to support and advance the careers of Appalachian faculty who are women in STEM disciplines. The program will be implemented over the next three academic years.

Diversity and Inclusion at Appalachian

Appalachian State University is committed to developing and allocating resources to the fundamental task of creating a diverse campus culture. We value diversity as the expression of human similarities and differences, as well as the importance of a living and learning environment conducive to knowledge, respect, acceptance, understanding and global awareness.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)

Appalachian State University desires to connect and educate our community and our students through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields of study. Appalchian strives to build mutually beneficial and sustainable relationships with community partners to further engagement and impact in our local to global communities.

About the Math and Science Education Center

Since 1985, the Appalachian State University Math and Science Education Center has offered special workshops, summer institutes, graduate courses and other instructional programs aimed at helping update and recertify teachers in Northwest North Carolina. The center’s goals are to increase the quality and quantity of mathematics and science teachers in North Carolina public schools; strengthen instruction in mathematics and science in grades K-12; sponsor research and development in mathematics and science education; and increase the use of educational technology in schools.

About the Department of Curriculum and Instruction

The Department of Curriculum and Instruction offers a broad range of comprehensive degree programs at the baccalaureate and master’s levels. The department seeks to provide quality programs that emphasize the integration of academics and field experiences. Learn more at https://ci.appstate.edu.

About the Reich College of Education

Appalachian offers one of the largest undergraduate teacher preparation programs in North Carolina, graduating about 500 teachers a year. The Reich College of Education enrolls approximately 2,400 students in its bachelor’s, master’s, education specialist and doctoral degree programs. With so many teacher education graduates working in the state, there is at least one RCOE graduate teaching in every county in North Carolina. Learn more at https://rcoe.appstate.edu.

About the Department of Mathematical Sciences

The Department of Mathematical Sciences offers undergraduate degrees in actuarial science and mathematics, with concentrations in business, computation, life sciences, physical sciences, secondary teaching and statistics, plus a general, self-designed concentration. The department also offers the Master of Arts in mathematics, with concentrations in college teaching and secondary teaching. Learn more at https://mathsci.appstate.edu.

About the College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university’s strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.

About the Center for Academic Excellence

The Center for Academic Excellence is Appalachian State University’s lead teaching and learning resource for faculty, staff and students. It was formed in 2016 by combining the staff and resources from Learning Technology Services and Faculty and Academic Development into a single, comprehensive center dedicated to growing excellence in teaching and learning and supporting faculty and student success. Among its services, the center provides support for teaching innovation, the scholarship of teaching and learning, learning technologies and professional development for faculty and staff. Learn more at https://cae.appstate.edu.

About Appalachian State University

As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.