MU has joined a national alliance to develop inclusive faculty practices in its STEM departments, the university announced Monday.

The alliance, Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty, will focus on recruitment, hiring and retention of diverse science, technology, engineering and math faculty. MU is one of 20 universities joining the Aspire Alliance, which will last for three years.

It is co-led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, which is a research, policy and advocacy organization aiming to improve public higher education. University of Missouri System President Mun Choi was elected to the organization’s board of directors Monday.

“Recruitment and retention of exceptional faculty who are diverse remains a top priority for our leadership team,” MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said in a news release.

The first step for MU is to complete a self-assessment of current practices and assets, according to the release. MU will develop and implement its action plans to drive necessary changes in STEM faculty.

The partnership will help the university move toward “creating a comprehensive plan to actively contribute to achieving the transformative goals of the project,” said NaTashua Davis, interim vice chancellor of inclusion, diversity and equity, in the release.

The alliance offers universities access to its Institutional Change Network, which provides access to national partners and resources to enact plans.

The university’s membership in this network is in addition to other STEM-related inclusion efforts. For example, THRIVE is an MU initiative with a vision to foster inclusivity in the science community, focusing on underrepresented racial groups and transfer students, funded by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The university will work with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to establish definitions and parameters for STEM fields, said Sheena Rice, outreach manager of the MU News Bureau.

The College of Engineering saw a three-year trend during which only 18% of its faculty were women and underrepresented minorities, Rice said. This percentage includes African American, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaskan Native faculty members.

Davis and Inya Baiye, assistant vice chancellor of inclusive excellence and strategic initiatives in the Division of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity, led the university’s application process. They will be partnering with the Office of the Provost to work on the plans.

Supervising editor is Hannah Hoffmeister.

  • Education beat reporter at the Columbia Missourian, fall 2019. Studying News Reporting at MU. Reach me at dpanuncial@mail.missouri.edu or the newsroom at 882-5720.

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