Penn State joins national effort to develop more inclusive, diverse STEM faculty


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State is one of 19 universities joining a three-year institutional change effort to develop inclusive faculty recruitment, hiring and retention practices. The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) co-leads the effort, known as Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty.

The new cohort joins two earlier ones that are collaborating to advance such work, bringing the number of participating institutions to 54. The National Science Foundation funds the effort as part of its INCLUDES initiative.

To help science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty use inclusive teaching practices and increase the diversity of its STEM professoriate, Penn State will begin its work with a self-assessment of current practices and assets. The University then will develop and implement action plans to drive change and scale such efforts across its STEM programs.

“Joining the Aspire Alliance will help Penn State to further develop a more diverse and inclusive STEM faculty,” said Kathy Bieschke, vice provost for faculty affairs. “This effort supports the goal of further diversifying our faculty across the University.”

The Aspire Alliance, which APLU and the University of Wisconsin-Madison facilitate with the involvement of several universities, is engaging the new cohort through its Institutional Change (IChange) Network, which provides universities with comprehensive support and resources for institutional change.

Peggy Johnson, dean of the Schreyer Honors College and a professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, led Penn State’s proposal team to join the new Aspire cohort. She and Tracy Langkilde, Verne M. Willaman Dean of the Eberly College of Science, will co-lead the University’s efforts moving forward.

“We’re excited to be part of this important national alliance,” Johnson said. “By participating in the IChange Network, Penn State is moving beyond statements and taking action to further develop inclusive organizational structures to increase the diversity of our faculty.”

Langkilde added: “Collaboration with like-minded institutions will inform and accelerate our efforts to advance faculty diversity and inclusion.”

Joining Penn State in the new cohort are Appalachian State University; California Polytechnic State University, Pomona; Grand Valley State University; Jackson State University; Lehigh University; Louisiana Tech University; Mississippi State University; Stevens Institute of Technology; Temple University; Ohio State University; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of Denver; University of Louisiana at Lafayette; University of Maryland, College Park; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; University of Pittsburgh; Utah State University; and Virginia Tech.

“We are excited to have 19 impressive universities expand the IChange Network and bring their deep commitment to transforming STEM education,” said Tonya Peeples, associate dean for equity and inclusion in the Penn State College of Engineering and co-leader of the Alliance’s IChange Network. “This new cohort expands our potential to identify and share the most promising innovative practices toward diversifying the STEM professoriate and ensure their teaching, advising and mentoring is inclusive.”


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Megan Lakatos