At Cornell University, the Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement (OISE), led by Sara Xayarath Hernández, Associate Dean for Inclusion and Student Engagement, and the CU-CIRTL Program, directed by Dr. Colleen McLinn share a collaborative relationship. This relationship has been further strengthened by Dr. McLinn’s participation on the Graduate School’s Diversity Advisory Council chaired by Associate Dean Hernández, and through our partnership on a NSF Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Transformation Alliance grant titled: CIRTL AGEP – Improved Academic Climate for STEM Dissertators and Postdocs to Increase Interest in Faculty Careers, along with 9 other CIRTL institutions. This positioning has helped facilitate our outreach to URG graduate advancement communities about needs and opportunities.

While we recognize that the logic model of the CIRTL INCLUDES project ultimately leads to formation of new or tailored professional development activities in teaching and mentoring, we are balancing this with a local environment focused on documenting impacts of existing programming and ensuring partnership for scale rather than parallel efforts.

Thus, Cornell chose as a starting place to increase engagement and representation in existing programs and promote opportunities specifically to target audiences of URG students and postdocs. We use listservs allowing us to reach specific groups: an OISE Leadership Council composed of affinity group leaders, Edward A. Bouchet Honor Society members, Graduate School Dean’s Scholars (diversity fellowship recipients), new NextGen Professors cohort, and the broader community of URG graduate students subscribed to the general listserv for OISE. Additionally, we maintain active Twitter accounts for OISE (@CornellOISE) and CU-CIRTL (@CUFutureFaculty), which we use to broaden our reach through tweets, retweets, shared hashtags, and tagging of each other’s accounts. OISE also maintains an active Facebook page through which we promote CU-CIRTL programming, CIRTL resources, and our CIRTL AGEP supported activities.

Connections with URG Graduate Advancement Communities (What/How)

 NextGen Professors:

In fall 2017, OISE and CU-CIRTL launched a new cohort-based program, called NextGen Professors, with 17 postdocs and late-stage graduate students, as part of CIRTL AGEP initiatives. Priority audiences for recruitment into the NextGen Professors program were students and postdocs from underrepresented groups including scholars that identify as first-generation college students. By combining CIRTL AGEP resources with other institutional resources, this program is inclusive of students and postdocs across all disciplines. To support the development of micro-learning communities, the NextGen Professors are organized into disciplinary subgroups of 3-4 for further discussion and support.

This group mentoring program includes monthly cohort meetings on career preparation that are workshop or discussion-based, as well as power mentoring sessions with faculty in a Q and A format. Outside of the monthly cohort meetings, NextGen Professors are also expected to participate in other future faculty professional development programming offered through CU-CIRTL, CIRTL, and other universities (ex. Future Faculty Development Program at Virginia Tech) and external organizations (ex. SREB Institute on Teaching and Mentoring).

Graduate Women in STEM:

CU-CIRTL and OISE partnered with the Cornell Graduate Women in STEM (GWiS) group to host webinar viewings and coffee hour discussions of the October 2017 CIRTLCast webinars on Topics in STEMinism. Associate Dean for Inclusion and Student Engagement Sara Xayarath Hernández serves as the advisor to GWiS, which is a registered student organization, and facilitated the connection to CU-CIRTL director Dr. Colleen McLinn when we were advertising upcoming programming for the academic year. The four webinars drew between 6-13 participants each week, mainly different group members, and spawned interesting discussion about how they suggested ideas for upcoming group programming. A GWiS student officer live-tweeted many of the events, and is working with our CIRTL program director to invite one of the webinar speakers to Cornell for an in-person presentation in spring semester.

OISE Student Leadership Council:

Cornell is home to a number of graduate and professional student organizations that promote diversity and inclusion. The following student organizations represented on the OISE Student Leadership Council, work collaboratively with Associate Dean for Inclusion and Student Engagement Sara Xayarath Hernández and other campus partners on initiatives to advance a sense of community, professional excellence, and a climate of inclusion for all graduate and professional students, but especially for those from marginalized communities and backgrounds historically underrepresented in the academy.

Leaders from two of these organizations worked collaboratively with Associate Dean of Inclusion and Student Engagement Sara Xayarath Hernández and CU-CIRTL director Dr. Colleen McLinn to determine the design of the NextGen Professors Program. These two leaders are also Graduate School Deans Scholars and participants in other CU-CIRTL programming. Therefore, they play an instrumental role in encouraging the participation of their peers in programs led or co-led by CU-CIRTL.

Building Mentoring Skills for an Academic Career Certificate Program:

The Building Mentoring Skills for an Academic Career Certificate Program is a CU-CIRTL led program that helps future faculty develop essential research mentoring skills, particularly in disciplines where research is conducted collaboratively in a laboratory or field setting. Participants learn best practices for mentoring undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers, and develop advising and communication skills needed to lead a research team. The participants in the Spring 2018 offering of this certificate program include four of the 17 participants in the NextGen Professors program as well as number of other scholars from URG groups. Collaboratively programming between CU-CIRTL and OISE, such as the NextGen Professors Program, and the cross promotion of programming by CU-CIRTL and OISE is helping to expand the reach of CU-CIRTL especially within communities of URG scholars.

Survey Activities

Every institutional partner within the CIRTL AGEP Alliance is administering common survey instruments to all graduate faculty and doctoral students within the STEM disciplines. The purpose of the STEM faculty survey is to assess faculty perceptions of the campus climate experiences of graduate students at each of the alliance partner institutions, whereas the purpose of the STEM doctoral student survey is to assess the campus climate experienced by graduate students, and gain insights into career aspirations of graduate students. The first administration of the CIRTL AGEP faculty and doctoral student surveys at Cornell will take place in early March 2018.

Through our participating in the Ivy Plus diversity initiative, the Pathways Consortium, we are also planning focus groups with targeted faculty and student audiences for 2018. 

Moving forward

Empowering Women in Science and Engineering (EWISE) Symposium:

Organized by OISE, Diversity Programs in Engineering, Office of Faculty Development & Diversity, the Office of Postdoctoral Studies the Empowering Women in Science & Engineering (EWISE) Symposium is a one-day professional development opportunity for faculty, staff, postdocs, Ph.D. students, and professionals that provides participants with the chance to network and establish relationships with women and champions of women across the STEM disciplines. This now biennial symposium was initiated in 2007 by Diversity Programs in Engineering and the Cornell ADVANCE Program, which was subsequently institutionalized through the establishment of the Office for Faculty Development and Diversity. Since 2007, the partners supporting the symposium have expanded to include the Graduate School and the Office of Postdoctoral Studies. The 2018 EWISE Symposium will take place in May and will included CU-CIRTL as new key partner.

Future Professors Institute:

The Future Professors Institute is a one-day event featuring workshops and guest speakers from multiple institutions discussing the topic of preparing for successful faculty careers. This event is aimed at doctoral students, postdocs, JD or JSD and MFA students interested in academic careers, with the primary audience being Cornell University students and postdocs identify with groups historically underrepresented in the professoriate. This institute was launched as a collaborative initiative of CU-CIRTL, OISE, and the Office of Postdoctoral Students in Summer 2016. The sustained collaborations of CU-CIRTL, OISE, and Office of Postdoctoral Studies have supported the institutionalization of this initiative, which has now become a biennial event with the next institute taking place in Summer 2018.

Prepared by Colleen McLinn and Sara Xayarath Hernández, February 2018