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October 17, 2013

Purdue receives Transformation grant from NSF's Alliances for Graduate Education and Professoriate program

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University has been awarded a Transformation grant from the National Science Foundation's Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program.

The $345,740 grant is to support Purdue's participation in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation's (CIC) Professorial Advancement Initiative (PAI).

The AGEP program helps develop and implement models and standards for STEM graduate education, postdoctoral training and academic career preparation that remove or reduce barriers for underrepresented minorities.

The CIC AGEP PAI is a collaboration between the University of Illinois and Purdue to partner with other members of the CIC: Indiana University, the University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It seeks to bring more underrepresented minority postdoctoral scholars into faculty positions.

"African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans, as well as women, are significantly underrepresented in the STEM fields," said Mark J.T. Smith, dean of the Purdue Graduate School and co-principal investigator for the grant. "Student and faculty diversity on campus enhances the overall quality of education, which is important to our future STEM workforce. Our new CIC AGEP initiative is aimed at increasing faculty diversity within the CIC universities."

To that end, working with postdoctoral students is a key objective.

"We're focusing on post-docs and trying to help them prepare for faculty positions," Smith said. "We have a research team that will be analyzing the effectiveness of our cross-campus CIC mentoring and the impact the program has on the post-doc participants.

"Studies have shown that unconscious bias and misperceptions of excellence can be factors in the decision-making process that can negatively impact underrepresented minorities and women. A major part of the CIC AGEP initiative is working with search committees on all the participating CIC campuses to acquaint them with the literature in this area."

The total award from the National Science Foundation to support the CIC AGEP initiative is $1,417,500. The grant spans a 3 1/2-year period. 

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711, gmcclure@purdue.edu   

Source: Mark J.T. Smith, 765-494-2604, mjts@purdue.edu