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In 2016, The Graduate School at the University of Maryland, College Park was awarded the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) grantAGEP CIRTL - Improved Academic Climate for STEM Dissertators and Postdocs to Increase Interest in Faculty Careers. This program advances knowledge about models improve pathways to the professoriate such that historically underrepresented minority (URM) students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty in STEM disciplines can be successful in academe.

Several universities are part of the Networked Improvement Community (NIC). They include: Boston University, Cornell University, Howard University, Iowa State University, Northwestern University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the University of Georgia, the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Texas at Arlington. As active members in the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL), the collaboration of 40 universities will produce the next-generation of STEM faculty known for their excellence in both research and teaching.

The AGEP CIRTL program aims to tackle the complex and multifaceted challenge of creating an inclusive climate. To accomplish this, the NIC will:

  • Produce a set of measurements on URM student interest in faculty careers; the climate experienced by all students; and their perceptions of mentoring and advising.
  • Undertake planned coordinated initiatives to improve graduate student advising and mentoring interactions.
  • Develop and test initiatives on building an inclusive community amongst graduate students.
  • Implement measures to assess the effectiveness of these initiatives and use data in intentional cycles that improve each initiative.
  • Develop a model set of initiatives for advisors, mentors and graduate students that have been tested at nine universities and resulted in an increased interest in and pursuit of faculty careers.

At the University of Maryland, College Park we have partnered with our STEM programs which include faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate programs and graduate students. We continue to collaborate with departments and graduate programs throughout this project in order to implementing activities on this campus. Activities will include:

  • Assessments on perceptions of the graduate program, departmental and institutional climate; inclusive research advising; mentoring and peer interactions; and understanding pathways to faculty careers.
  • Retaining and advancing excellent graduate students and postdocs through bias literacy.
  • Advising graduate students with solutions they can immediately use.
  • Creating a cohort community for graduate students.
  • Best practices for advising and mentoring through dissertation completion.

Each of the participating institutions has a small team of staff working to coordinate and implement programs.  At the University of Maryland, College Park our project team includes:

Dr. Rashawn Ray - Principal Investigator
Professor of Sociology, The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS)

Anna De Cheke Qualls - Project Director
Senior Advisor to the Dean, The Graduate School


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