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NSF honors IUPUI for commitment to diverse STEM faculty

IUPUI’s commitment to educating, recruiting and retaining diverse faculty — particularly in STEM fields — proved fruitful in a challenge competition issued by the National Science Foundation.

The university’s entry placed first in the STEM faculty category for the Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Challenge.

The contest challenged universities to provide examples of programs and/or initiatives that led or are leading to systemic solutions to mitigating long-term impacts from the pandemic on DEI in STEM. The competition was broken down into four STEM categories of focus: undergraduate in a two-year institution, undergraduate in a four-year institution, graduate and professional students, and faculty.

In the award summary, the NSF highlighted IUPUI’s adoption of the integrative DEI path to promotion and tenure in 2021. IUPUI’s entry focused STEM faculty and the practice and policies implemented to support women and faculty of color to negate the anticipated long-term negative impact of the pandemic.

The changes were informed by the research and recommendations created by the IUPUI action committee in the summer of 2020 to identify where systemic racism is translated into higher education’s daily practices, expectations and procedures that unfairly target populations of color. Practice changes included an extension on the tenure clock, the removal of teaching evaluations completed by students from use in merit reviews and faculty evaluations, and language changes in promotion and tenure review letters to emphasize quality over quantity of scholarly products.

“The collaborative work highlighted in our contest entry really showcased IUPUI’s concentrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion among our own faculty and within higher education as a whole,” Executive Vice Chancellor Kathy Johnson said. “The list of all contributors involved is vast, including the chancellor’s cabinet, academic deans, the offices of academic affairs, diversity and inclusion, and vice chancellor for research, the Graduate Office, the IUPUI Faculty Council and others. This honor is truly shared by all of IUPUI.”

Other NSF-supported initiatives mentioned in the contest entry included:

  • Project EPIC, IUPUI’s ADVANCE grant focused on more effectively recruiting, retaining and advancing women, particularly women of color, in higher education. Emphasis is placed on improving climate in STEM departments.
  • The IChange Network. This initiative of the Aspire Alliance is focused on developing diverse STEM faculty across the country.
  • The COVID CV app developed by IUPUI faculty with support from the IU Office of the Vice President for Research and the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute.

The first-place honor included a $25,000 cash prize.