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UT News

Increasing Diversity in Academia is Aim of New Alliance with National Science Foundation

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AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas at Austin is participating in a 3½-year collaborative project with top research universities to increase the number of underrepresented minority faculty members in mathematics, physical and earth sciences, and engineering (MPESE) fields at research universities.

The project has been selected to become one of the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), funded by the National Science Foundation. The alliance will provide underrepresented minority doctoral and postdoctoral students training opportunities to learn and network at partner institutions, conduct research exchange visits and develop resources for placement, hiring and advancement of these students into faculty positions. Underrepresented minority students include African Americans, Chicanos/Latinos, Native Americans/Alaskan Natives and Pacific Islanders.

UT Austin will partner with the University of California Berkeley, the University of California Los Angeles, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology, the University of Washington, the University of Michigan, Harvard University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Previously, UT Austin participated in a pilot program called the California Alliance’s Research Exchange Program. The new alliance will expand the work of that initiative with the goal of creating a model for increasing diversity among faculty ranks nationwide.

“U.S. universities and colleges struggle to recruit, retain and promote underrepresented STEM faculty members who serve as role models and academic leaders for students,” said Marvin L. Hackert, associate dean of the Graduate School. “This alliance has the potential not just to improve the career pathway success of underrepresented minority doctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars, but to improve overall academic mentorship for graduate students and postdocs.”

Recent NSF reports indicate that underrepresented minority associate and full professors occupy only 8% of these senior faculty positions in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields at all four-year colleges and universities, and only about 6% of these positions at the nation’s most research-intensive institutions.

The alliance will begin work on the program starting this month. It will be open to current UT Austin doctoral graduate students in candidacy and postdoctoral fellows who are underrepresented minorities in MPESE fields. Participants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Information on how students can apply will be shared in the coming months.