This collaborative research brings together five public universities with the goal of developing, implementing, studying, evaluating and disseminating a state level AGEP Alliance model to increase the number of historically underrepresented minority (URM) tenure-track faculty in the biomedical sciences. This AGEP Alliance model represents a state system approach to recruiting and training URM postdoctoral fellows and transitioning them into tenure-track faculty positions. In addition to providing professional development and mentoring for a group of 16 URM postdoctoral fellows and early career faculty, this AGEP Alliance also addresses institutional URM faculty hiring and advancement policies and practices. This AGEP Alliance model work is through partnerships between the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Salisbury University, Towson University, the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP), and the University of Maryland at Baltimore.
This alliance was created in response to the NSF's Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program solicitation (NSF 16-552). The AGEP program seeks to advance knowledge about models to improve pathways to the professoriate and success of URM graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty in specific STEM disciplines and/or STEM education research fields. AGEP Transformation Alliances develop, replicate or reproduce; implement and study, via integrated educational and social science research, models to transform the dissertator phase of doctoral education, postdoctoral training and/or faculty advancement, and the transitions within and across the pathway levels, of URMs in STEM and/or STEM education research careers. While this Alliance is primarily funded by the AGEP program, additional support has been provided by the NSF INCLUDES program, which focuses on catalyzing the STEM enterprise to collaboratively work for inclusive change. The ADVANCE program also provided support for this AGEP Alliance model work, and the ADVANCE program embraces three goals that are relevant to this Alliance model's development, implementation and testing: To develop systemic approaches to increase the participation and advancement of women in academic STEM careers; to develop innovative and sustainable ways to promote gender equity that involve both men and women in the STEM academic workforce; and to contribute to the research knowledge base on gender equity and the intersection of gender and other social identities in STEM academic careers.
As the nation addresses a STEM achievement gap between URM and non-URM undergraduate and graduate students, our universities and colleges struggle to recruit, retain and promote URM STEM faculty who serve as role models and academic leaders for URM students to learn from, work with and emulate. Recent NSF reports indicate that URM STEM associate and full professors occupy 8% of these senior faculty positions at all 4-year colleges and universities, and about 6% of these positions at the nation's most research-intensive institutions. This AGEP Alliance's state system approach is advancing a model to improve the success of URM early career biomedical sciences faculty, which ultimately leads to improved academic mentorship for URM undergraduate students in STEM and innovative biological science research to benefit our nation's security, economic progress and prosperity.
The integrated research component, led by UMCP's KerryAnn O'Meara examines how the intersectionality of race, ethnicity and gender shape the experiences of candidates for assistant professorships, and the evaluation of those candidates by reviewers. Institutional faculty hiring practices, processes and procedures are also being studied to better understand how they advantage or disadvantage some candidates over others.
This AGEP Alliance state system model is engaging institutional leadership and external advisory boards, which will provide feedback to the team and suggest adjustments to model development, implementation and testing, as well as efforts for institutional transformation and sustainability. Staff at Westat will provide formative and summative evaluations. The dissemination plan includes article submissions to peer-reviewed social science, academic career diversity, and disciplinary education and research journals.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.