An Institutional Transformation Model to Increase
Minority STEM Doctoral Student Success
Keywords: Graduate, Race/Ethnicity, Faculty
One of the major barriers to increasing the percentage of underrepresented minority (URM) faculty in STEM fields is the small number of URM applicants for academic positions. Recent studies have shown that African-American and Hispanic/Latinx students make up only 2.7% and 3.3%, respectively, of doctorates granted in STEM disciplines in the U.S. Additionally, the 2-year attrition rate of URM doctoral students is nearly 50%, substantially greater than the rate for non-URM students at most institutions. This presentation reports on an effort by an alliance of three North Carolina public universities to develop, implement, and test a model to improve these URM outcomes.
The project involves adapting and implementing research-based institutional change strategies that positively impact URM graduate students in STEM disciplines. Each participating department has a volunteer faculty member interested in URM success issues designated as a "AGEP-NC Faculty Fellow." The Fellow receives support and training on mentoring, the experiences of underrepresented minority students, and on fostering change. First, the Fellows introduce their departmental colleagues to best practices in supporting URM students in PhD programs. Together with their department head and director of graduate programs, they work with the faculty to understand graduate student pathways, identify practices and policies that promote success, and diagnose trouble spots. Based on this study of the graduate student experience in their own department, the faculty then develop a departmental diversity plan to build these insights into departmental practices and procedures.
This presentation will overview the project design for the 5-year program, share materials used in the Faculty Fellow training, and summarize preliminary findings from surveys regarding attitudes and perceptions of the faculty and graduate students in the Year 1 cohort of six departments. The project is supported by the NSF AGEP (Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate) program.
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