Building Bridges For Future Faculty through Virtual Engagement

Building Future Faculty participants, 2018

Each year, NC State welcomes dozens of doctoral candidates and post-doctoral students who arrive on campus ready to engage in an intensive three-day excursion into demystifying the professoriate. Participants have represented colleges and universities throughout the U.S., including Puerto Rico.

The Building Future Faculty (BFF) program was created to meet the challenge of diversifying the professoriate. Through it, NC State has championed efforts to support future educators, leaders and researchers in many focus areas and disciplines. The mission of the program is to prepare underrepresented minority students for thriving careers as faculty. 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 45% of college and university students are underrepresented minorities, while only 24% of faculty identify as underrepresented. It is widely recognized that faculty diversity has the potential to influence student diversity recruitment, retention and student success efforts. The path to the professoriate is filled with both obstacles and opportunities. The BFF program makes intentional efforts to support these future scholars through the following program outcomes:

  • a foray into the life and expectations of faculty;
  • opportunities to engage with the narratives of underrepresented faculty;
  • success strategies for increasing research productivity and navigating academic life;
  • skills development for teaching, networking and public speaking;
  • information and feedback on the application process and materials, such as the CV, cover letter and research planning;
  • opportunities to interact with faculty in your discipline and other BFF scholars.

The opportunity to engage with dynamic faculty that showcase a myriad of identities offers participants an authentic experience. Hearing individual and collective narratives while experiencing both formal and informal mentoring provides guidance and encouragement. Hundreds of scholars have taken residence within the program and exemplified its transformational nature; these scholars have answered the charge to be torch-bearers in illuminating opportunities for those who share their narratives. 

This year, to meet the challenges faced by reduced in-person capacity, the BFF program will offer a virtual experience on April 12-14 with increased engagements, elevated networking experiences and the same flair for mentorship and meaningful interactions. While the connections may be virtual this year, they will be no less genuine and significant.

The Building Future Faculty program is a marquee program that has garnered the support of provosts and presidents across the country. In collaboration with campus and community partners, we look forward to pushing the envelope and showcasing what it truly means to “Think and Do.” 

Melvin “Jai” Jackson, Ph.D., is assistant vice provost for faculty engagement in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity.