DTA winners receive funding to enhance diversity

November 30, 2015  

After two rounds of presentations to faculty panelists, nine initiatives have been selected by Purdue's Diversity Leadership Team to receive the Diversity Transformation Award (DTA). Several other projects will be supported through other mechanisms.

"I congratulate the faculty and staff members who developed the winning DTA initiatives and thank everyone who submitted proposals to help us advance diversity at Purdue," says Provost Deba Dutta. "This program is one step in a portfolio of initiatives that you will see coming out of the Office of the Provost to create a more welcoming and inclusive campus climate."

The DTA awards were created by the Office of the Provost to enhance recruitment, enrollment, and retention of underrepresented minority (URM) students, faculty and staff, and to study factors affecting inclusiveness and success of URM students and faculty. Sixty-six faculty teams responded and $1 million in funding will support the DTA initiatives. Additional projects that were not among the nine selected will be supported through other mechanisms to expand the reach of diversity and inclusion initiatives.

"We were impressed by both the number and variety of submissions," says Mark J.T. Smith, a member of the Diversity Leadership Team and dean of the Graduate School. "We had planned to fund 5-8 proposals. However, given the breadth and quality of ideas, we tried to stretch the $1 million as far as we could and found that we could support nine of these excellent submissions."

The nine initiatives selected for DTA funding, shown with principal investigator, brief description and list of team members, follow. Please note: Order does not indicate ranking.

Strengthening the Purdue Pipeline for Underrepresented Minority Student Matriculation: Addressing Financial Constraints, Improving Retention, and Assessing Student Experiences

PI: Anil Bajaj, William E. and Florence E. Perry Head of Mechanical Engineering and Alpha P. Jamison Professor of Mechanical of Engineering

The goals of this initiative are to broaden the pool of underrepresented minority students through Minority Engineering Program pre-college engagement of in-state and scholarship-bearing students; develop a sophomore bridge program to improve transition into Mechanical Engineering (ME); develop a rotation program with student financial support to strengthen diversity and inclusion within the ME community; conduct an ethnographic study of student experiences; and initiate internal processes to develop resources for long-term sustainability.

Team members: George Chiu, professor, Mechanical Engineering; Patricia Davies, professor, ME; Nicole Key, associate professor, ME; Eric Nauman, professor, ME; Tahira Reid, assistant professor, ME; Virginia Booth-Womack, director, Minority Engineering Program; Darryl Dickerson, associate director, MEP; Jim Jones, associate head, ME.


Purdue Agriculture Family Programs: A College Experience for Parents

PI: Marcos Fernandez, associate dean, director of academic programs, College of Agriculture

Parents play a large role in a student's decision to attend a college, especially in families of URM and first-generation students. This program collaborates with Purdue Extension from select counties to identify, communicate and invite parents to campus for an immersive, two-day residential "Boilermaker Family College" experience aimed at demonstrating and sharing the student experience at Purdue, including information on applying, enrolling and succeeding.

Team member: Tyson McFall, academic advisor, Botany and Plant Pathology


Chemistry Diversity Initiative: A Graduate Student Program for Success

PI: Jean Chmielewski, Alice Watson Kramer Distinguished Professor of Chemistry

This program is composed of three phases: attracting applicants from targeted universities; mentoring students through the acceptance process; and a mentoring plan designed for the successful matriculation and professional development of these students through the graduate program.  The team will partner with the Graduate School, the College of Science, and summer research programs to leverage existing strengths.

Team members: Jon Wilker, professor, Chemistry; Corey Thompson, assistant professor, Chemistry; Christopher Pulliam, graduate student, Chemistry; Colby Adolph, graduate student, Chemistry; Stella Betancourt, graduate student, Chemistry; Phil Wyss, programming specialist/staff, Chemistry; Suzanne Bart, professor, Chemistry; Candice Kissinger, assistant head, Chemistry; Dwight Lewis, director, Multicultural Programs, Graduate School; Zenephia Evans, director, Science Diversity Office; Kathy Dixon, program director, AGEP/SROP, Graduate School; Susan Mendrysa, associate professor/co-director, Veterinary Medicine.


Building Partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Graduate Faculty Diversity Ambassador Program

PI: Shawn Donkin, professor and assistant dean, College of Agriculture

A networking platform will be created between faculty in the College of Agriculture and select historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) using two-way exchanges. This not only will expand research capacity at both institutions, but also will break down perceived barriers at each institution around cross-training, transferring, and recruiting the best and brightest graduate students. 

Team members: Theresa Casey, research assistant professor, Animal Sciences; Jenna Rickus, professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering; Kevin Solomon, assistant professor, ABE; Margaret Gitau, associate professor, ABE; Humaira Gowher, assistant professor, Biochemistry; Orla Hart, clinical assistant professor, Biochemistry; Myron McClure, assistant director, Office of Multicultural Programs, Agriculture; Kola Ajuwon, associate professor, Animal Sciences.


Building a Positive Campus Diversity Climate through the Inclusion of Individuals with Concealable Identities: A Curricular Approach

PI: Deborah Rupp, professor and William C. Byham Chair in industrial/organizational psychology

Diversity initiatives often focus on the recruitment and inclusion of traditionally underrepresented groups (e.g., women, persons of color, those with visible disabilities), and sometimes fail to account for individuals who face stigma and prejudice, but whose minority identity may not be readily apparent (e.g., LGBTQ individuals, those with invisible disabilities, and racial minorities whose minority status is not obvious). To increase awareness and acceptance of these groups, this yearlong project is aimed at developing evidence-based and intervention-focused curricular modules for undergraduate and graduate courses (initially in Psychology) focused on invisible stigma, diversity, and inclusion.

The project is being led by Deborah Rupp and Drew Mallory in the Purdue Department of Psychological Sciences, in strategic partnership with Purdue's LGBTQ Center, Latino Cultural Center, Disability Resource Center, Human Resources and the Office of Institutional Equity. Additional targeted strategic partners include the Black Cultural Center, Boiler Gold Rush, the Native American Educational and Cultural Center, and Purdue Fraternity, Sorority, and Cooperative Life.


Pathways to Increased Diversity for Grad School and the Professoriate

PI: Audeen Fentiman, associate dean of graduate education and interdisciplinary programs, Engineering; professor of nuclear engineering

The College of Engineering will build on relationships with faculty members at minority serving institutions (MSIs) to increase the number of underrepresented minority students enrolling in engineering graduate programs. Selected undergraduate students from MSIs will spend two summers conducting research with mentors from Purdue and the MSI and taking Purdue courses, preparing for success in graduate school at Purdue. Faculty members will conduct research to identify mentoring and professional development activities effective in fostering a successful career in academia.

Team members: Virginia Booth-Womack, director, Minority Engineering Program; Phillip Dunston, professor, Civil Engineering; Susan Fisher, professional development and diversity specialist, Engineering.


Four Directions: Building a Foundation for Native Scholars

PI: Dawn Marsh, associate professor of history

This program aims to increase Native American faculty and students at Purdue. A program of postdoctoral positions will be filled through partnerships with Native communities, tribal colleges, and research universities; postdoctoral fellows will then become candidates for Purdue faculty. The team will develop a certificate in applied indigenous studies and focus on faculty hiring through opportunity or cluster hires. The program will build on the success of the Sloan Foundation Indigenous Graduate Partnership and the Native American Educational and Cultural Center by integrating recruitment of Native scholars at all levels to launch Purdue's Native students into effective careers.

Team members: Ken Ridgway, professor, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences; Kerry Rabenold, professor, Biology; Kory Cooper, associate professor, Anthropology; Stephanie Zywicki, assistant professor, Curriculum Studies; Felica Ahasteen-Bryant, director, NAECC; Darryl Reano, doctoral student, EAPS; Wai Allen, master's student, EAPS.


Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) for Biomedical Sciences

PI: Susan Mendrysa, associate professor, Basic Medical Sciences

This program includes a postbaccalaureate program (PREP) targeted at recent college graduates from groups underrepresented in biomedical sciences who have high potential for science yet lack the necessary research experience or may need additional upper-level coursework for successful entry and timely progression through a PhD program. A pilot PREP will be established in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Data from the pilot PREP will be used to support submission of a 5-year NIH R25 (PREP) which, if successful, will provide ~$400K/year for program expansion. 

Team members: Marxa Figueiredo, assistant professor, Basic Medical Sciences; Kauline Cipriani, director of diversity initiatives, Veterinary Medicine; Colleen Gabauer, director of interdisciplinary graduate programs, Graduate School; Cynthia Lynch, director of fellowship and professional development, Graduate School; Willie Burgess, managing director, Discovery Learning Research Center.


Promoting Student Inclusion: An Evidence-Based Program for Transforming Purdue's Climate

PI: Margo Monteith, professor of psychological sciences

While underrepresented minority students question whether they belong and are respected at Purdue, majority group students lack intergroup experience and are prone to implicit bias. This program will instill intergroup-approach motivation, emphasizing egalitarianism and mutual respect to create engagement, learning, and competence. Professionally developed videos will model strategies from both underrepresented and majority students' perspectives that facilitate positive intergroup experiences. Creating a more inclusive and interculturally competent climate will strengthen Purdue's recruitment, retention, and engagement.

Team members: Evelyn Carter, postdoctoral fellow, Psychological Sciences; Erin Hennes, assistant professor, Psychological Sciences; Richard Rand, professor, Visual and Performing Arts; Zenephia Evans, director, Science Diversity Office; Elizabeth Holloway, director, Women in Engineering Program.


DTA presentations began on Oct. 19 with 66 submissions from faculty teams. The round one format included a 5-minute live presentation by the faculty principal investigator or team designee followed by a 5-minute question-and-answer period with a judging panel made up of faculty members from each college.

The round one submissions were split into two groups and presented in front of two judging panels so they could be completed in a single day. Each presentation was evaluated on its overall potential positive impact on the university. Each judging panel chose 10 finalists to move forward to the final round.

The 5-minute presentations from round one are available for viewing here with Purdue ID and password.

The round two format was similar to round one, with presentations extended to 8 minutes and question-and-answer periods extended to 7 minutes. Presenters in round two addressed issues that were cited in the feedback they received from their earlier presentations.

The round two presentations can be viewed here with Purdue ID and password.

Members of the judging panels for both rounds spent many hours listening to DTA presentations, asking questions and collectively discussing the merits of each.

"I am deeply grateful for the commitment of the panelists," says Provost Dutta. "Their participation was entirely voluntary and the time and energy they devoted to this initiative proves the far-reaching interest in enhancing diversity at Purdue." 

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