OIED Faculty Liaisons Conclude Productive Year

Lake Raleigh with Park Alumni Center

Park Alumni Center, sitting on the banks of Lake Raleigh.

Kudos to the 2014-15 OIED Faculty Liaisons for a very productive year! The Faculty Liaison program supports faculty initiatives related to diversity. This year the initiatives have included incorporating values of inclusivity and diversity in departmental planning, piloting a “search like a coach” program to prepare researchers of the future, working to make NC State the university of choice for Hispanic/Latino students in North Carolina, establishing the Indigenous Collaborative on Education, Research and Service, creating a diversity giving circle to increase the number of new sponsors of NC State’s Diversity and Equity Fund, evaluating the impact of NC State’s family-friendly policies and evaluating the impact of course interventions on students’ stereotypes of scientists.

Five of the faculty liaisons have worked within their departments to catalyze discussions about how the department’s operations and presence reflect the department’s values and goals with respect to diversity and inclusion. They are: Robin Abrams, professor and head, School of Architecture; Joel Ducoste, professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering; Wendy Krause, associate professor of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science; Thomas Schaefer, Distinguished Professor of Physics; and Mary Wyer, associate professor of Psychology. They have worked to develop concrete and realistic department-level plans, including developing language for their department websites, defining departmental hiring and graduate student recruiting priorities and drafting inclusive language for their departments’ mission statements.

Mission of the School of Architecture

  • To prepare a diverse body of students for the profession of architecture;
  • To promote growth, inclusiveness and innovation in the profession and academic discipline of architecture through teaching, mentoring, creative work, scholarship and service;
  • To increase public awareness of the broad nature of architecture and its essential contribution to life and society.

The Departments of Physics and Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering will consider proposals to incorporate new language in their mission statements in the near future. We envision that these examples might provide springboards for discussion about the role of diversity in other departments.

Preparing Researchers of the Future (PROF). Faculty Liaison Joel Ducoste, Professor of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, interviewed athletic coaches to find out how they recruit star athletes. He found that university coaches in different sports have been cultivating relationships with talented students well before these students select the college they would like to attend in the hopes that they would come and play for the coach’s team. Dr. Ducoste decided to test whether this type of recruiting approach can be used to increase the number of underrepresented groups that pursue an academic career.  This semester, he has visited five universities (Hampton, Howard, Morgan State, Morehouse and Spelman) and given presentations to undergraduates, graduate students and post-docs about preparation and life in academia. He plans to follow up with selected students who have the interest and potential to pursue an academic career and then act as a coach/mentor to help guide them along the way. It is his hope that through this mentorship and personal relationship, these students will one day join our profession.

Three initiatives strengthen NC State’s connections with diverse communities throughout North Carolina. Faculty Liaison Maria Correa, professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, is working to promote NC State as the University of Choice for Latinos in North Carolina through a series of articles published in Spanish in the newspaper La Conexion, through maintaining a Google Group for Hispanic/Latino faculty, and through co-chairing NC State’s Hispanic/Latino Advisory Group (HLAG). The Google Group and HLAG form an information network and community for Hispanic/Latino faculty, staff and students to become involved in activities and opportunities for students and other faculty promoting Hispanic/Latino representation at NC State. Faculty Liaison RaJade Berry-James, associate professor of Public Administration, created a diversity giving circle network which has raised several thousand dollars for enhancing diversity efforts at NC State. The objectives of the diversity giving circle are to: (1) broaden awareness of diversity programs and services at NC State University; (2) enable the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity to identify off-campus partners who financially support diversity, multiculturalism and an inclusive community; and (3) increase support for the Diversity and Equity Fund at North Carolina State University. Dr. Berry-James also serves as the 2014-15 Chair of NC State’s University Diversity Advisory Committee. Faculty Liaison Susan Faircloth, associate professor of Leadership, Policy, Adult and Higher Education, established the Indigenous Collaborative on Education, Research and Service, funded by the College of Education, the Provost’s Office, and OIED. The collaborative supported four major projects: (1) a day of service at the Coharie Tribal Center in Clinton, NC; (2) an animal cell lab workshop with students from the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe; (3) documenting oral histories about the Eastern Carolina Indian School in Clinton, NC; and (4) a food drive, conducted in collaboration with the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Adult and Higher Education. The food collected during this drive was donated to the local food bank. Donations helped to provide over 900 meals.

Two faculty liaisons assessed the effectiveness of specific approaches to enhancing diversity in higher education. Faculty Liaison Mary Wyer launched the academic year with an educational research collaboration designed to (1) examine the effects of a course intervention called “Scientist Spotlights” and (2) evaluate the validity and reliability of the “Stereotypes of Scientists Scale” developed by her lab group. She is collaborating with Jeff Schinske, an instructor in Biology at De Anza College in Cupertino, CA, a community college with an extraordinarily diverse student body. She has also organized an interdisciplinary reading group for 6 faculty members (Physics, Biomedical Engineering, English, Biological Sciences, Psychology and Plant/Microbial Biology) interested in exploring the entanglements of scientific and social knowledge. The group is reading Banu Subramaniam’s book Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity. Faculty Liaison Montserrat Fuentes, Goodnight Distinguished Professor of Statistics and department head, focused on assessing the effectiveness of NC State’s tenure clock extension regulation in improving tenure outcomes for female tenure candidates. Assisted by undergraduate Statistics major Catie McVey, she found that use of the tenure clock extension provision has been increasing since its inception in 2002, with a notable increase since automatic approval of extensions began in 2008. Roughly equal numbers of male and female faculty have taken a tenure clock extension, and rates of retention to tenured associate professor were approximately equivalent for male and female faculty. However, the rate of faculty retention to tenured associate professor at NC State among faculty that took a tenure clock extension was notably lower than for faculty that did not take a tenure clock extension. The next steps will be to study when and why a larger fraction of faculty who take a tenure clock extension have left NC State than other faculty and to propose additional measures to enable faculty with young children to successfully combine faculty life with family life.

The enthusiasm and creativity of the faculty diversity liaisons multiply the impact of campus diversity efforts many-fold. The liaisons have had a significant impact on their departments, their colleagues, and the future of NC State. Any faculty who are interested in serving as OIED faculty liaisons should contact Marcia Gumpertz, assistant vice provost for faculty diversity, for more information.

For more information about OIED’s faculty initiatives and programs, please see the OIED website.