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 nine 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.)
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 eight 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also through the five-year AGEP project, the Graduate School launched the NextGen Professors Program, a structured learning and mentoring community for advanced graduate students and postdocs interested in academic careers. For a campus-wide audience, the Graduate School and the Office of Postdoctoral Studies launched the Future Professors Institute in 2018, 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.
Further demonstrating the Graduate School’s commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion within graduate education, 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. This award was presented to then Dean Barbara Knuth and Associate Dean of Inclusion and Student Engagement Sara Xayarath Hernández on December 9, 2016 during the 56th Annual Meeting of the Council of Graduate Schools. Through this award, the Graduate School received a two-year, $20,000 grant to launch new and expand continuing programming that enhances student success and degree completion while promoting inclusiveness. This funding was used to expand the Summer Success Symposium, launch the Inclusive Teaching Institute with partners from the Center for Teaching Innovation, 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.