University receives grant to combat inequity and advancement issues among faculty

Jax White, News Co-Editor

The University was recently awarded a $271,000 two-year self-assessment to combat gender, race and ethnicity barriers for faculty by a new National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant, according to a press release.

Set to lead the project is Professor Jiajia Dong, and Associate Dean of Faculty for Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Professor Dong will be collaborating with Interim Dean of the College of Engineering Erin Jablonski, Associate Professor Abby Flint of the Mathematics Department, and Professor Sue Ellen Henry of the Education Department. 

“We are going to survey all of the faculty members and ask them to answer questions on their gender, ethnicity, years of experience and rank, and [time spent] at Bucknell,” Dong said in a press release. “We’re going to ask them about their experience of being recruited and hired, and what were the challenges and impressions they had.”

Dong said that a second portion of the survey will focus on retention and the tenure track for faculty. The final portion will cover how professors advance their careers at the University and the ways they were supported in their pursuit. 

The second year will look a little different, according to the press release, because researchers will primarily be searching through the data to find common themes amongst the survey responses.

The announcement for the grant comes as part of a larger theme throughout the University’s “Plan for 2025” which hopes to build and retain a diverse community among students, faculty and staff.

“This is huge for a variety of reasons, one of which is that we want to start to recognize and collaborate with people who are taking seriously the scholarly element of diversity and equity,” Nikki Young, Associate Provost for Equity & Inclusive Excellence, said in a press release. “Using a review of our very own retention, tenure and promotion process is a way to hold us accountable and have faculty engaged in this work.” 

Young continued in the press release that the study will provide greater opportunities to hear from “underrepresented minorities” amongst the faculty.

Dong said that the selection criteria and method of awarding support for faculty is still being developed. An information session in October will kick off the study. 

“The success of this project relies on the active participation and thoughtful input from faculty members, and the team looks forward to bringing forward a plan in the next couple of months,” Dong said. 

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