FAMU Among Cohort of Schools To Participate in AAC&U Institute on Reframing Institutional Transformation to Include Non-Tenure-Track STEM Faculty

July 20, 2022
Owens, Bannister, Williams, Simmons, & Burrs
FAMU Among Cohort of Schools To Participate in AAC&U Institute on Reframing Institutional Transformation to Include Non-Tenure-Track STEM Faculty

(From left) Marcia Allen Owens, Ph.D., Vanessa Pitts-Bannister, Ph.D., DeEdgra Williams, Ph.D., Elise Simmons, Ph.D., and Stephanie Burrs, Ph.D. 

Florida A&M University is among a cohort of eight colleges and universities selected to participate in an American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) program to address the needs of non-tenure Track STEM faculty.

AAC&U announced Tuesday, July 19 that, thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), it will host a second cohort of forward-thinking institutions that have committed themselves to addressing the unique needs of the nation’s non-tenure-track STEM faculty, who teach a disproportionate number of introductory core science, technology, engineering, and math courses, and are essential to reforming undergraduate STEM education.

The FAMU team includes Marcia Allen Owens, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental science & policy and director of the FAMU Center for Faculty ADVANCEment; Vanessa Pitts-Bannister, Ph.D., associate professor and coordinator of mathematics education; and DeEdgra Williams, Ph.D., associate professor and chair Department of Economics & Professional Leadership Development. Elise Simmons, Ph.D., instructor of mathematics, and Stephanie Burrs, Ph.D., faculty member in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, are the two non-tenure track faculty.

Owens said participation in the Institute helps to expand the work of the Center for Faculty ADVANCEment at FAMU, funded by FAMU ADVANCE. She looks forward to representing FAMU and returning with valuable insights.

“The $2.97 million FAMU ADVANCE grant seeks institutional transformation toward gender equity for faculty in STEM and the social and behavioral sciences (SBS). However, our efforts have focused predominantly on tenured and tenure track faculty,” said Owens, principal investigator for the NSF-funded FAMU ADVANCE. “Participating in the AAC&U Institute is part of an intentional effort to focus on the inclusion of issues that impact non-tenure track faculty at FAMU. We can examine and analyze similarities to tenure track faculty issues while also identifying specific nuances that affect non-tenure track faculty.”

FAMU ADVANCE is one of several FAMU-based, NSF-funded initiatives to increase the number of women of color in STEM. Earlier this month, the Tallahassee campus hosted a research boot camp for 15 women of color STEM scholars from across Florida. FAMU serves as the lead institution for the NSF’s Florida Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP).   

The Institute on Reframing Institutional Transformation to Include Non-Tenure-Track STEM Faculty will be held on July 25–29, 2022, near Washington, D.C. In addition to FAMU, the cohort includes faculty from American University, College of Charleston, Georgia State University, Moravian College, St. Edwards University, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Throughout the Reframing Institute, participating institutional teams will partner with national scholars to examine and interrogate root causes of the adverse institutional conditions that disproportionately marginalize non-tenure-track STEM faculty. 

All sessions will be grounded in a blended conceptual model for institutional transformation that emphasizes organizational learning and change. Programming will also focus on cultivating tools for critical self-reflection, mindfulness, and strategic design mapping. As an added benefit, participating teams will be paired with an institutional transformation coach whose expertise and experience will contribute to building team capacity in institutional transformation, broadening participation, organizational change theory, STEM education research, and culturally responsive evaluation.

“We are grateful to the National Science Foundation and our partners at the University of Southern California Pullias Center for Higher Education for trusting in and supporting us to lead such an important effort as this,” said Kelly Mack, Ph.D., AAC&U vice president for Undergraduate STEM Education and principal investigator for this funding award. “The practices and traditions of disempowering and disenfranchising vulnerable groups of STEM faculty is one that we have historically been wholly committed to confronting and combatting. We are honored to co-labor with our participating institutions and the many others who share in our desire for change.”