The University of Maryland, along with two other higher education institutions in the state, received a $ 3 million grant for an initiative to increase diversity in college leadership.
“Breaking the MOLD” is a joint project between the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Morgan State University and this university to create a pipeline for under-represented groups, primarily people of color and women, in the United States. leadership in the three schools.
With the grant, the initiative plans to devote the next three years to offering workshops and training sessions that will expose university professors to information on leadership strategy while supporting the progress of their research.
Sahar Khamis, associate professor in the communication department of this university, participated in a previous series of workshops which served as inspiration for future training sessions and workshops of the initiative. Khamis said the experience was very revealing.
“We need to see more in the direction of ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion,” she said. “I see [the workshops] as important steps in the right direction.
Universities hope to create a model for higher education institutions nationwide, said Bonnie Thornton Dill, co-principal investigator and dean of the college of arts and humanities at that university.
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The three universities applied for a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation after a conversation between the foundation and the three university presidents, Dill said. The proposal was approved and announced in November.
“The shortage of people and women of color in the top positions has been a concern of all of us for a very long time,” said Psyche Williams-Forson, senior researcher and professor and chair of the US program at this university. studies department.
Federal data shows that non-white students enrolled in post-secondary institutions increased from about 30% to about 45% between 2000 and 2018. Despite this, only 5% of college presidents are women of color, according to the American Council on Education.
At that university, only two black women are in leadership positions and only one is in university leadership, Dill said.
“Having diverse perspectives within leadership teams is essential to ensure that the needs of marginalized communities are addressed,” said Georgina Dodge, vice president of diversity and inclusion at this university. .
The initiative also focuses on another aspect of leadership diversity. Only four percent of college and university presidents have majored in the arts and humanities, according to the most recent study of American college presidents from the American Council on Education. This initiative aims to change that.
Dill said academics in the humanities often face barriers to promotion because of the way they work. While STEM researchers tend to work in teams, such as in research labs, arts and humanities researchers tend to work alone. Since their tasks are more individualized and can take longer, this makes advancement more difficult, Dill said.
Williams-Forson pointed out that while people often see the arts and humanities in opposition to the sciences, they are two sides of the same coin.
“In reality, people are complex, people are whole and they are made up of humanistic parts,” she said.
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Williams-Forson said the initiative is also targeting associate professors. Once professors reach associate level, they often find themselves taking on more services, such as sitting on committees, she said.
Adriane Fang, associate professor at the school of theater, dance and interpretation, agrees. She said her tendency to take care of her students sometimes took time away from other activities that could lead to promotion.
“The strong foster mother quality and the societal expectations of mothers to be the primary caregivers have at least predisposed me to taking care of people,” said Fang, who is also associate director of the International Program for Creative Collaboration and Care. research.
By working with the three universities, the group hopes to find strategies that could increase diversity in colleges and universities across the country.
“Having diverse voices at the table is really important in making decisions,” said Dill. “It just broadens the perspective. “