Inclusion-Focused Sponsored Grants & Awards

In 2016-2017, the Graduate School received several grants in support of academic diversity initiatives at Cornell. In October 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $5.9 million in funding for three new projects, including one involving Cornell in an alliance with 9 other U.S. universities to develop, build, and test the impact of a “networked improvement community” focused on enhancing graduate student experiences at a variety of institutions with the goal of reducing the negative interest in faculty careers. The universities—Cornell, Iowa State University, Boston University, Howard University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, University of Buffalo, University of Georgia, University of Maryland College Park, and University of Texas at Arlington—participants in the national Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) Network, will receive nearly $2 million collectively over five years for this project, with Cornell’s Graduate School receiving approximately $100,000 of that total (under NSF Grant No. 1647094). (More details about the CIRTL AGEP Alliance.)

AGEP-CIRTL project leaders
AGEP CIRTL project leaders from 10 research institutions

This initiative is part of the NSF’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program, and NSF and the Council of Graduate Schools hosted a national forum for AGEP project PIs in Washington, D.C. February 23-24. See the CIRTL AGEP Alliance’s website for more details on the project, one key activity of which—the My Voice, My Story interactive theatre program—began at Cornell in summer 2017. The program, developed in collaboration with the Cornell Interactive Theatre Ensemble, the Graduate School, and multiple college partners, facilitates discussions around identity and climate using My Voice, My Story, a short film featuring monologues from 8 actors portraying the diverse lived experiences of graduate and professional students. This video serves as a jumping off point to discuss academic cultures and how they can be experienced from multiple points of view. More information on how to bring these programs to your graduate field or college is available upon request: email

Also through the five-year AGEP project, the Graduate School is piloting its inaugural cohort of the NextGen Professors group mentoring program for 17 graduate students and postdocs in 2017-2018. For a campus-wide audience, the Graduate School, CIRTL at Cornell, and Office of Postdoctoral Studies will offer Future Professors Institutes in June 2018 and June 2019, bringing in a wide variety of faculty from multiple types of institutions to serve as speakers and panelists about the many ways in which faculty careers can successfully unfold.

The National Science Foundation also issued its first-ever awards for its new INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science) program in 2016. These awards—totaling nearly $14 million—support multiple projects aimed at enhancing U.S. leadership in science and engineering by broadening participation in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The Graduate School is participated in a project titled “CIRTL INCLUDES – Toward an Alliance to Prepare a National Faculty for Broadening Success of Underrepresented 2-Year and 4-year STEM Students,” headed out of University of Wisconsin-Madison (under NSF Grant No. 1649199). Sara Xayarath Hernández, associate dean for inclusion and student engagement, and Colleen McLinn, executive director of CIRTL at Cornell, were “action partners” for this project and attended the INCLUDES kickoff summit in Washington, D.C. February 2017 and a Social Equity Retreat for project partners at Northwestern University in September 2017.

Further showing the Graduate School’s commitment to diversity initiatives, the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and the Educational Testing Service (ETS) presented the Graduate School with the 2016 ETS/CGS Award for Innovation in Promoting Success in Graduate Education: From Admission through Completion. As part of this award, which was presented to senior vice provost and dean Barbara Knuth and associate dean Hernández on December 9, 2016 during the 56th Annual Meeting of the Council of Graduate Schools, the Graduate School received a two-year, $20,000 grant from 2016-2018 to carry out new and continuing programming that enhances student success and degree completion while promoting inclusiveness. This funding was used to expand a fall Summer Success Symposium and a winter Inclusive Teaching Institute, and increase availability of My Voice, My Story workshops and graduate student and postdoc-focused Intergroup Dialogue Project sessions.


These efforts are currently funded by the National Science Foundation (grant number 1647094; CIRTL AGEP). Any opinions, findings, interpretations, conclusions or recommendations expressed at these events and in related publications and materials are those of their respective authors and do not represent the views of the National Science Foundation.