SIUE using ADVANCE IT-Catalyst award to begin efforts for institutional transformation

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) is a 2010 recipient of a National Science Foundation ADVANCE IT-Catalyst award. Catalyst awards are designed to “support … efforts to conduct institutional self-assessment activities, …in order to identify specific issues in the recruitment, retention and promotion of women faculty in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) academics within an institution of higher education,” according to the ADVANCE program’s Web site.

SIUE’s ADVANCE team offers an analytical approach to understanding the challenges that face women faculty, including under-represented minority women, in STEM disciplines. SIUE’s team is already working diligently to compile and analyze baseline data regarding faculty representation by gender and race across ranks in STEM disciplines and the social and behavioral sciences. The team’s goals essentially focus on data collection and analysis; however, the team will also offer a variety of campus events bringing several prominent scholars to campus. Additionally, the team will carry out an organizational climate survey, conduct qualitative interviews, and organize focus groups to better understand SIUE’s current context. The team will also work with campus stakeholders to review current policies and conduct site visits to campuses with successful NSF ADVANCE awards to learn more about best practices that might inform SIUE’s long-term efforts.

SIUE’s ADVANCE IT-Catalyst’s interdisciplinary team is led by principle investigator Denise Cobb, associate professor with the department of sociology and criminal justice studies. Cobb is joined by co-investigators Lynn Maurer, professor of political science and associate dean of SIUE’s graduate school; Leah O’Brien, distinguished research professor, chemistry; Sue Wiediger, associate professor of chemistry; Danice Brown, assistant professor of psychology; and Christa Johnson, associate dean for research at SIUE’s graduate school.

The primary goal of this significant venture is to establish readiness for the university’s long-term institutional transformation efforts. The team is excited to have the opportunity to build on the momentum already established by the University and looks forward to working with the campus community, including faculty members, department chairs, and administrators, to achieve these important goals. In the long-term, the team hopes to see SIUE increase the percentage of women faculty members at each rank within STEM disciplines and the social and behavioral sciences; create institutionalized networking opportunities for women faculty to facilitate their success; develop a central resource center for chairs and program directors; and contribute to an improved overall climate.

Engaging in this systematic self-evaluation will help inform the University’s efforts to promote equity for all faculty members. Achievement of these long-term goals depends on the critical planning and data collection efforts that will occur as part of the SIUE ADVANCE IT-Catalyst project.

Learn more about SIUE’s ADVANCE IT-Catalyst initiatives at

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