University of Arkansas Named to Alliance Aimed at Diversifying STEM Faculty

Paul Adams, associate professor of biochemistry, works with a student researcher.
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Paul Adams, associate professor of biochemistry, works with a student researcher.

The University of Arkansas is one of 20 public research universities added to a collaborative coalition aimed at enhancing faculty diversity and implementing inclusive practices in the STEM disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  

Through "Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty," the U of A will conduct an extensive self-assessment process to inform the creation of a three-year action plan that will develop additional policies and procedures to drive recruitment, hiring and retention of diverse STEM faculty while supporting inclusive teaching, advising and research mentoring.

Additionally, the program will connect the U of A with resources and services to assist in the plan's implementation, including access to dozens of professional organizations, assessment tools and models, funding opportunities and a leadership academy.

"This alliance will be transformative for our campus and is the latest in a portfolio of strategies we've developed to greater diversify our faculty ranks," said Yvette Murphy-Erby, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. "The action plan we will form through 'Aspire' will have ripple effects across our entire campus, helping us identify additional strengths and opportunities while validating strategies that we can implement across all our campus units."

The effort is funded by the National Science Foundation and co-led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The U of A was part of the second cohort added to the alliance, which now totals 35 schools.

"We are thrilled to be involved with this important initiative that will build on our efforts to recruit, retain and develop quality faculty from all walks of life, in addition to supporting inclusive practices on our campus," said Jim Coleman, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. "Further diversifying our STEM faculty will lead to greater diversity among our students in these fields, bringing new perspectives that will enhance our work. The Chancellor and I are extremely supportive of this effort and look forward to working with our campus and other institutions as part of this alliance."

A 15-member task force comprised of university administrators and faculty members will help drive the effort on campus. Task force members are:

  • Jim Coleman, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs
  • Yvette Murphy-Erby, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion
  • Kathryn Sloan, vice provost for faculty affairs
  • Kim Needy, dean of the Graduate School and International Education
  • John English, dean of the College of Engineering
  • Anna Zajicek, associate dean in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and chair in the Department of Sociology
  • Heather Nachtmann, associate dean for research in the College of Engineering and professor of industrial engineering
  • Debbie McLoud, associate vice chancellor for administration and director of employee services
  • Matt McIntosh, vice chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Marcia Shobe, senior research fellow in the Office for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Christa Hestekin, associate professor and holder of the Ansel and Virginia Condray Endowed Professorship in Chemical Engineering
  • Beth Kegley, professor and elected president of the American Society of Animal Science
  • Timothy Kral, professor of biological sciences
  • Robert Pilgrim, administrative data manager in the Office for Research Support and Sponsored Programs
  • Kevin Brady, associate professor of educational leadership, curriculum and instruction

"Provost Coleman, Dr. Murphy-Erby and I are very excited to be working with such a talented and experienced task force for this important project," said Shobe, who is also the faculty lead for the program at the U of A. "Team members comprise leaders at the university in STEM, human resources, research analytics, and the Faculty Senate, all of whom are prepared to effect STEM culture change in recruitment, hire and retention policies and practices and to enhance STEM teaching, research and service initiatives." 


John Post, director of academic communications
University Relations


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