Potsdam, NY, Nov. 06, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Clarkson University has been awarded $999,934 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that will be used to reduce bias in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

The project, STEM Leadership, Equity, and Advancement of Faculty (STEM LEAF), is designed to affect positive institutional change around reduction of implicit or unintentional bias associated with gender and intersectional issues of race, ethnicity, country of origin, sexual orientation, and disability, to systematically and equitably support the development of inclusive leadership skills and the professional advancement of women STEM faculty, and to implement sustainable, systematic changes across the University in support of these goals.

“With demographic shifts across our population and shared goals to provide an inclusive experience across all gender and intersectional issues of race, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation; Clarkson’s STEM LEAF project can be a transformational national model for systemically and equitably supporting the development of leadership skills and professional advancement of STEM faculty – both women and men, and both majority and minority members of our academic communities,” said Clarkson Provost Robyn Hannigan. 

The NFS grant was secured by a team comprised of Hannigan and Paynter-Krigman Endowed Professor in Engineering Science and Director of the Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR) Stephanie Schuckers; Dean of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering and Tony Collins Professor of Innovative Engineering Culture William Jemison;  Associate Professor of History Laura Ettinger; and Associate Professor of History and Social Documentation, Chief Inclusion Officer Title VI, IX, ADA and 504 Coordinator Jennifer Ball.

“Clarkson ignites connections across disciplines, industries and social cultures to create the entrepreneurial mindset and skillsets needed to innovate world-relevant solutions,” said Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins. “With the National Science Foundation’s award to advance STEM LEAF and our commitment to impacting positive change, Clarkson is well poised to drive innovation in the higher education community through an inclusive experience that shows our appreciation of differences that inform and enrich our lives.”

Hannigan said funds will also be used to support professional development of academic leaders and STEM women faculty in the development of inclusive leadership skills and to support STEM women faculty through training in self-advocacy, negotiation strategies and other topic areas.

Ettinger added that the grant will also fund oral history interviews with Clarkson STEM women faculty. This oral history research project will produce new information about women STEM faculty, especially at small technological institutions, to be disseminated via publications and presentations and will inform the activities proposed in the STEM LEAF program.

Hannigan said Clarkson, like many other schools, has long recognized that changing demographics would have a profound impact on both its student body and faculty.

“Decades ago it was noted that there is a shortage of women in STEM degree programs at the undergraduate level and significant effort was put forth to advance opportunity and access to close the gender gap, and these efforts were more or less successful.  However, as we look at gender diversity in graduate programs and then to the faculty and up to higher education administration the representation of women plummets,” Hannigan said. “Clarkson has a long history of innovation, of recognizing that there is a problem that needs a solution and developing sustainable solutions to wicked problems. So why not harvest the power of innovation and ignite change in a way that ensures equity, diversity, and inclusion and, in so doing, transform not only Clarkson but STEM in higher education?”

The STEM LEAF funding will help strengthen Clarkson’s ability to recruit and retain faculty, Hannigan said.

“We should see more success for our faculty as a whole as they are supported in advancing their careers and, if seeking such, in moving into leadership positions within and external to the institution,” Hannigan said. “Because of the success of our faculty and the diversity of the faculty, students will see role models and will gain confidence in remaining in STEM whether through a PhD and into the faculty or by supporting and mentoring others in entering STEM.”

The NSF ADVANCE program is designed to foster gender equity through a focus on the identification and elimination of organizational barriers that impede the full participation and advancement of diverse faculty in academic institutions. Organizational barriers that inhibit equity may exist in policies, processes, practices, and the organizational culture and climate. ADVANCE "Adaptation" awards provide support for the adaptation and adoption of evidence-based strategies to academic, non-profit institution of higher education as well as non-academic, non-profit organizations.


Melissa Lindell
Clarkson University