MSU shares in project to diversify STEM faculty nationwide

November 14, 2018

Colleges and universities across the nation are striving to attract a more diverse and inclusive faculty, especially in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Michigan State University researcher Leslie Gonzales is helping to address that challenge as one part of a new national research alliance funded by a five-year, $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Leslie Gonzales

Leslie Gonzales

The overall project, called ASPIRE: A National Alliance for Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty, brings together multiple scholars, colleges and organizations to think collectively about welcoming and preparing more STEM faculty who will teach, mentor and advise students in inclusive ways.

The alliance builds on various pilot projects funded by the NSF INCLUDES program, including one awarded to Gonzales in 2016.

“ASPIRE is comprehensive and includes a major intervention concerning faculty preparation and faculty evaluation, continual assessment of the intervention and a social science research component,” said Gonzales, whose team is overseeing the social science piece. That includes providing ongoing advice on topics such as organizational change, culture in the STEM fields and social networks.

Gonzales, associate professor and coordinator of the master’s program in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education (HALE) at MSU, also will conduct research to examine if, how and why ASPIRE helps campuses, or specifically STEM departments, foster change.

Fellow team members include co-leader Kimberly A. Griffin of University of Maryland, Lucas Hill of University of Wisconsin, a graduate of both the master’s and doctoral HALE programs at MSU, and Julia Savoy, a doctoral candidate at UW.

The ASPIRE alliance is a collaboration led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL). Michigan State has long been among the institutions participating in CIRTL, which seeks to prepare STEM faculty as effective educators. Ann Austin, associate dean of research in the MSU College of Education, remains a research leader for CIRTL.