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With 10 Million Dollars, MSU Seeks to Diversify STEM

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

"Attracting more underrepresented students—women, members of minority racial and ethnic groups, persons with disabilities, and those from low socioeconomic background," is the ultimate aim of NAIDSF.

Author: Sergei Kelley

Michigan State University locked in $10 million of academic funds to diversify STEM programs nationwide.

The $10 million has been awarded to the newly created “National Alliance for Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty (NAIDSF).” This group is co-led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“To facilitate Institutional Change,” the alliance stated, “NAIDSF will help institutions examine their practices for recruiting, hiring, and retaining URG [University Research Grant] faculty; enhance faculty inclusive practices; develop action plans to increase diversity among STEM faculty; provide resources to help implement needed reforms; and provide training for the next generation of diverse institutional leaders.”

“...[A]ttracting more underrepresented students—women, members of minority racial and ethnic groups, persons with disabilities, and those from low socioeconomic background,” is the ultimate aim of NAIDSF.

“Underrepresented minority faculty are a mere eight percent of associate and full professors in STEM fields at four-year institutions,” said Robert Mathieu, the alliance’s co-director.

“Data show that when diverse faculty members teach underrepresented students, these students achieve at significantly higher rates,” said Mathieu.

This phenomenon closes “achievement gaps in those classes by 20 to 50 percents,” said Mathieu.

Howard Gobstein, APLU’s executive vice president, was thrilled by NAIDSF’s selection of APLU.

“[The] program is a visionary gamechanger, building on the strong foundation of many earlier programs...across hundreds of institutions. It is critical that we transform participation in STEM fields to engage the nation’s diverse talent.”

Under the initiative dubbed “Regional Change” over 50 universities and 35 cross partners have committed to achieving the alliance’s goals. These partners include: 2-year colleges, 4-year regional universities, local research universities, and the private sector.

Michigan State University, one of the alliance's partners, says the project brings together institutions to “think collectively about welcoming and preparing more STEM faculty who will teach, mentor and advise students in inclusive ways.”

One students at Michigan State University had very positive feelings toward this project.

“STEM is a field that has historically been largely made up of white men. Diversity is our strength,” said Alex Chudzik, a senior studying Social relations and Policy.

For future reference, NAIDSF is commonly referred to as ASPIRE.

“ASPIRE is comprehensive and includes a major intervention concerning faculty preparation and faculty evaluation, continual assessment of the intervention and a social science research component,” said Leslie Gonzales, an associate dean of research in MSU’s College of Education.

Gonzales is part of an NAIDSF team including five other team members who are part of the project to “conduct research to examine if, how and why ASPIRE helps campuses, or specifically STEM departments, foster change.”

Contributor: Sergei Kelley

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