National initiative to increase number of faculty from under-represented minorities

January 17, 2017, University of Texas at Arlington
UTA President Vistasp Karbhari makes opening remarks at launch event. Credit: UTA

The University of Texas at Arlington hosted this weekend the launch of a multi-year collaborative project among 10 leading educational institutions that aims to increase the number of university faculty from under-represented minority groups.

In the project, under-represented minority groups include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Native Pacific Islanders.

"Up to now, we have seen that under-represented minorities lose interest in faculty and research careers at a much higher rate than well-represented groups," said Panos Shiakolas, UTA associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

"This project aims to improve the climate and promote inclusiveness in graduate education to increase the number of under-represented graduate students and postdocs interested in and prepared for faculty careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, or related education research," he added.

UTA is now working alongside Cornell University, Howard University, Northwestern University, Michigan State University, Boston University, Iowa State University, University of Buffalo, University of Georgia and the University of Maryland, College Park, to devise a series of new initiatives focused on faculty and postdoc advising/mentoring and graduate peer initiatives to support under-represented minority groups' students who are interested in faculty careers.

The new initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation's Alliances for Graduate Education and Professoriate , forms part of $5.9 million in funding for three new alliances consisting of 14 partner universities.

UTA participates as a member of the Center for the Integration of Research Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) network and as a minority Hispanic Serving Institution. The results will be disseminated across the CIRTL network and then nationally.

This new program is one of three grants UTA has recently received to promote doctoral programs focused on STEM fields, with a special emphasis on under-represented minorities and underserved groups.

UTA's Physics Department received a $563,584 award for the training of Physics Ph.D.s at UTA, again through the Department of Education's Graduate Assistantships in Areas of National Need program.

"We have received two previous GAANN awards, and during that time, the number of Ph.D. students and graduates increased by 50 percent," said Ramon Lopez, physics professor and principal investigator on this new grant. "The combination of our strong and growing research program along with student success is the reason we are winning these grants."

UTA's Mathematics Department also received a $500,000 NSF Award to operate a three-year bridge project involving 30 students to transition them from bachelor's degrees to doctoral programs in the mathematical sciences. This three-year project aims at increasing the quality and quantity of doctoral students in the mathematical sciences through strong mentoring and that fast-track component and attracts students to UT Arlington through the Gulf States Math Alliance in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

"During the last 10 years, this UTA mathematics program has successfully supported more than 30 who completed their Ph.D. in Mathematics, including a large proportion of women and under-represented minorities, supported by the Department of Education's Graduate Assistantships in Areas of National Need program," said UTA Mathematics Chair Jianzhong Su, who is the principal investigator on this new NSF bridge project grant.

"We have an award-winning program here at UTA, which makes us competitive for additional grants like this one from the National Science Foundation," he added.

Explore further: More underrepresented students obtain science degrees and pursue STEM, due to research mentoring

Related Stories

Mentoring models to move minorities to majorities in STEM

February 16, 2013

Evidence of a shift in U.S. demographics and importance of minorities took center stage during the Presidential election, but how do those growing toward majority acquire representation in our educational and technological ...

Growing diversity in doctoral programs

December 16, 2015

The challenges of increasing diversity in academia have been widely cited. Now a new Northwestern Medicine study is addressing challenges at the Ph.D. level to boost the persistence of underrepresented minority and female ...

Recommended for you

Archaeologists discover Cornish barrow site

April 20, 2018

An Archaeologist at The Australian National University (ANU) has discovered a prehistoric Bronze-Age barrow, or burial mound, on a hill in Cornwall and is about to start excavating the untouched site which overlooks the English ...

New ancestor of modern sea turtles found in Alabama

April 18, 2018

A sea turtle discovered in Alabama is a new species from the Late Cretaceous epoch, according to a study published April 18, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Drew Gentry from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, ...

New study improves 'crowd wisdom' estimates

April 18, 2018

In 1907, a statistician named Francis Galton recorded the entries from a weight-judging competition as people guessed the weight of an ox. Galton analyzed hundreds of estimates and found that while individual guesses varied ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.