Public Release: 

University of Delaware receives $3.3 million NSF grant to diversify academic workforce

University of Delaware


IMAGE: UD's leadership team for the NSF ADVANCE program to develop a diverse academic workforce includes, from right, Heather Doty, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Robin Andreasen, associate professor of cognitive... view more

Credit: Evan Krape/University of Delaware

The University of Delaware has been awarded $3.3 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a program that will serve as a national model for diversifying and strengthening the academic workforce.

UD is one of only four universities in 2014 to receive NSF's prestigious ADVANCE Institutional Transformation (IT) grant. The five-year program at UD is research driven and aims to support University administrators as change agents, to improve transparency in policies and procedures, and especially to mentor women faculty to advance through the ranks and into senior leadership positions.

Of particular interest in the NSF-sponsored program is the increased recruitment, retention and advancement of women faculty and women faculty of color, with a special focus on women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Pamela Cook, Unidel Professor of Mathematical Sciences and associate dean of faculty in the College of Engineering, will lead the program. Her co-investigators include Robin Andreasen, project research director and associate professor of cognitive science and linguistics; Heather Doty, faculty associate to the provost and assistant professor of mechanical engineering; and John Sawyer, professor of management and associate provost for institutional research and effectiveness.

"Receiving this prestigious award from the National Science Foundation is an exciting opportunity for our campus and critical to establishing the diverse academic workforce of the future at UD," said Cook, who also is a faculty scholar in UD's Center for the Study of Diversity and was recognized nationally in 2012 as a University Change Agent.

Cook previously chaired the University's mathematical sciences department for nine years and the Commission on the Status of Women for six years. She is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and is president-elect of SIAM.

"Research indicates that improving the climate for women faculty improves the climate for all faculty," Cook said. "Becoming an ADVANCE institution raises UD's prominence and will attract potential faculty hires."

The NSF grant supports a research program on race and gender equity in the academy as well as a variety of faculty-led and faculty-focused information and awareness programs. Activities will include workshops, mentoring and networking opportunities for UD faculty, efforts to create enhanced family-friendly policies, and separate programs for administrators (department chairs, college deans, vice provosts) to enhance their awareness of faculty issues.

"The University of Delaware is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse faculty," said Provost Domenico Grasso. "The UD ADVANCE program will contribute new research important to understanding faculty equity issues and help create a climate that will lead to their thriving careers."


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