FORWARD to professorship in STEM : inclusive faculty development strategies that work


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The chair may be too busy to fulfill this role effectively, or he or she may not have all of this knowledge at his or her command. Moreover, research shows that successful mentoring in part depends on chemistry. No single individual will be successful at mentoring every candidate within a diverse faculty. Similarly, no single individual can provide all the guidance that a junior faculty could benefit from.

However, like all other skills, mentoring skills can be developed. A few schools do have more formal mentoring programs that spread the task of mentoring more evenly across the faculty, and these are detailed in Appendix A. Moreover, when formal mentoring systems are in place, it is important that senior colleagues themselves thoroughly understand the tenure process as well as the range of other information that untenured faculty need to know and that they are informed about what research has to say about successful mentoring relationships.

Good mentoring requires skill and commitment. Lack of formal mentoring systems particularly impact adversely faculty from underrepresented groups.


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There is considerable evidence that a great deal of mentoring goes on informally and often is not even recognized as such. Whenever a senior faculty member has lunch with an untenured colleague or invites him or her to be part of a panel at a professional conference, valuable mentoring is probably occurring. However, when mentoring is a discretionary activity, women and faculty of color may be less likely to be included in these informal networking activities than are white men, and their careers appear to suffer more when there is a lack of such mentoring.

Supporting intellectual development. Junior faculty and, indeed, all faculty, make the decision to join and remain at Columbia primarily on the basis of the quality of the intellectual community it provides. Junior faculty need to be contributing members of strong intellectual communities that support them in achieving their scholarly potential. All groups consulted about faculty development were concerned with identifying ways to ensure that junior faculty were included in appropriate ways in relevant intellectual communities.

A frequent concern is that of how junior faculty can be appropriately included in departmental decision-making. One question that emerged is how can departments, schools, and the University support forums for intellectual exchange among senior faculty, junior faculty, and graduate students in specific subfields or subject areas that will foster community within departments and programs and will help enhance the scholarly reputation of junior faculty?

These might include workshops and seminars, lecture series, and reading groups. These programs would not only promote collegiality within departments programs but they might also help junior colleagues connect with networks of scholars in their fields outside of Columbia. Specific recommendations about the role of the department, the school, and the provost in addressing each of these aspects of junior faculty development are detailed in Section IX, pp.

Additionally, women continue to be underrepresented in several fields, most notably science, technology, engineering and math STEM. Although Columbia University has made efforts to address faculty underrepresentation, there is significant progress yet to be made. Structural barriers. Structural barriers include the limited number of senior REM and women faculty in the University and especially the dearth of such faculty in academic leadership roles.

Consequently, junior faculty have limited access to mentors who will be able to acknowledge and discuss the unique challenges facing REM junior faculty and women in STEM fields. Junior REM faculty and women in some fields can be at a disadvantage because their research is more often in areas with little prior scholarship, resulting in the need to spend more time and resources justifying the legitimacy of their research topic or population.

REM and women junior faculty tend to be connected to a smaller social network of faculty , which increases institutional isolation, and decreases their level of knowledge about institutional culture and processes, including tenure. Tenure ad hoc committees may not have members who grasp the value of the type of research that REM faculty conduct and the challenges that REM faculty disproportionately face in their careers.

Additional demands. The small number of REM faculty in almost all disciplines and of women in STEM fields means that they are disproportionately called on for service activities as well as student advising. Committee work is usually undervalued by the department—at least in tangible ways—and at many institutions is not factored into the tenure decision, penalizing those who contribute a great deal of time and energy to this important institutional work. Research activities integral to working with communities of color, such as collaborating with community stakeholders and conducting pilot research to supplement gaps in the literature, requires additional time and effort.

Subjective experiences. As a result of the difficult structural barriers and personal demands, REM faculty. This can reflect in part a lack of institutional. Institutional isolation is more likely when groups lack the knowledge,. Ultimately, REM faculty. Effective efforts to foster the development of REM faculty depend on putting in place mechanisms that reduce each of these barriers. Mentoring efforts need to provide REM junior faculty and women in STEM fields with opportunities to draw on national networks of faculty who would be effective in supporting their careers.

This enabled the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives to identify, support, and monitor the progress of junior faculty from groups historically underrepresented at Columbia. The University makes a large financial investment in start-up funds and research laboratory space preparation for new science and engineering faculty. The expectation is that external funds will be obtained to develop and sustain the kind of research programs that can lead to tenure. However, securing the first extramural grant is a significant hurdle. Thus, providing assistance to junior faculty in getting and effectively managing their first grant is likely to have a big payoff.

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With this goal in mind we make the following recommendations:. The Executive Vice President for Research and other relevant bodies at the school or department level :. This can be done through web sites as well as through listservs;. Senior faculty in relevant units provide feedback and guidance on grant proposals. Interdisciplinary Scholarship. In addition to being within the heart of well-established disciplines, cutting-edge scholarship today is increasingly at the intersection of disciplines.

I nterdisciplinary scholarship seeks to foster links across disciplines that can lead to new theoretical and methodological paradigms and, sometimes, new disciplines e. Because such exciting new scholarship does not fit neatly into traditional processes of evaluation or funding sources, we recommend focused attention on three aspects of the career development of junior interdisciplinary scholars:. Support for establishing a program of scholarship. It may be particularly difficult for junior scholars in emerging interdisciplinary areas to secure the external support needed to establish their program of scholarship.

Thus, it is especially important for the university to provide funding that enables them to demonstrate the feasibility and value of their research. Promoting interdisciplinarity. The question of supporting interdisciplinary scholarship among junior faculty should be addressed within a more comprehensive consideration of how the University can create adequate opportunities for interdisciplinarity , and how it can support those faculty whose work exists within those spaces.

Streamlining joint and interdisciplinary appointments.


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The Provost should develop an explicit policy on interdisciplinary appointments , with particular attention to junior faculty mentorship and evaluations. Interdisciplinary scholars face an additional set of challenges when their work necessitates holding academic appointments in two or more units of the University. The difficulties posed by these situations are often administrative in nature i.

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This becomes especially salient when such scholars are considered for tenure or promotion. These scholars also need to be mentored by senior faculty who understand and are involved in interdisciplinary research themselves. Annual progress reports i. Tenure reviews for these candidates should include evaluations of their interdisciplinary work i.

Increasing numbers of faculty are managing the demands of a young family while launching a program of scholarship. However, two issues of critical importance to junior faculty remain to be addressed. Child and dependent care. Because competitive universities offer financial assistance for child care expenses, this lack of support at Columbia can provide an impetus for junior faculty to seek outside offers.

A strong recommendation is for Columbia to consider alternative ways in which to lessen this financial burden on faculty who face concerns about child care affordability. In addition to the costs of ongoing care of children and adults, travel to meetings and conferences pose additional financial burdens on faculty who are providing care for dependents. Dual careers. All universities face the challenge of couples negotiating dual careers.

The HERC database allows couples to seek information on two jobs in a particular geographical area, which has been of use to couples who are relocating to New York. However, perhaps the most difficult problems arise when both members of a couple seek academic appointments at Columbia. Leadership Development. Training in scholarly disciplines does not include formal preparation for academic leadership. Yet, there is increasing recognition that academic institutions are best served when opportunities are created to identify faculty with the potential to be talented leaders and to help such faculty develop the skills needed for effective leadership.

Thus, we recommend that, under the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives and Faculty Development, Columbia provide opportunities for a diverse pool of junior and mid-career faculty to develop the leadership skills necessary to take on administrative positions such as department chair or division director, dean, vice president, or provost. We make the following specific recommendations:.


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Leadership development programs. Topics covered might include recruitment, retention and promotion of a diverse faculty; financial management; mentoring faculty; developing strategic plans and road-maps for achieving departmental goals; time and people management; and fundraising and development.

Recruiting leaders from historically underrepresented groups in. The University should provide opportunities for faculty, especially those traditionally underrepresented in leadership, to consider leadership positions. Just as faculty from such groups may be less likely to receive informal academic mentorship than white men they may also be less likely to receive informal mentoring in leadership. Formal mentoring might include meetings with invited speakers to discuss building a resume for leadership positions, hiring processes for leadership positions, negotiating leadership offers, what it is like to hold a leadership position, etc.

The idea here is to develop interest and skills among REM and women faculty that could cultivate a group of diverse leaders. Rotating leadership positions for faculty including women and minorities. Positions would come with a specific portfolio and would include negotiated relief from teaching, administration duties, etc. The goal is to cultivate potential leaders within Columbia, in addition to engaging more faculty in important and timely university affairs.

Implementing Recommendations. In developing the following set of recommendations, Task Force members sought to address 1 what structures, processes and personnel need to be in place at the level of the department, the school, and the Provost to implement the recommendations outlined above; 2 what resources are needed to support these structures and processes; and 3 how the effectiveness of these structures and processes can be assessed. Department Level.

For those schools not divided into individual departments, this position may best operate out of the office of the school dean. Schools are encouraged to develop and implement mentoring mechanisms that provide junior faculty with reliable guidance as they progress through the critical early stages of their careers, and these mechanisms should be carried out within the departmental structure.

Departments should sponsor or promote forums for intellectual exchange among senior faculty, junior faculty, and graduate students in specific subfields or subject areas e. Faculty members should also be included in departmental decision-making as far as possible.

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Junior faculty members are, in fact, often closer to emerging trends in their disciplines than their senior colleagues so their input can be especially useful in departmental functions. Examples include workshops for publishing articles or books, applying for grants, and mentoring graduate students.

School Level. Many of the functions at the departmental level as outlined below will have their counterparts at the school level. However, we single out four:. This person should be the go-to person for junior faculty and for chairs. Provost Level. The Provost has responsibility for overseeing the academic standards of the university and as such oversees the tenure review process. The Provost then is in the best position to evaluate the effectiveness of schools and departments in regard to junior faculty development.

FORWARD to professorship in STEM : inclusive faculty development strategies that work FORWARD to professorship in STEM : inclusive faculty development strategies that work
FORWARD to professorship in STEM : inclusive faculty development strategies that work FORWARD to professorship in STEM : inclusive faculty development strategies that work
FORWARD to professorship in STEM : inclusive faculty development strategies that work FORWARD to professorship in STEM : inclusive faculty development strategies that work
FORWARD to professorship in STEM : inclusive faculty development strategies that work FORWARD to professorship in STEM : inclusive faculty development strategies that work
FORWARD to professorship in STEM : inclusive faculty development strategies that work FORWARD to professorship in STEM : inclusive faculty development strategies that work

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