The Compact for Faculty Diversity, a partnership of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, the Southern Regional Education Board, and the New England Board of Higher Education, proposes a renewal of the Bridges to the Professoriate project, which prepares MARC Predoctoral Fellows for research and teaching careers in the professoriate and provides services to ensure successful completion of the Ph.D. The primary vehicle to accomplish these goals is through participation of the Fellows in the national Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, which provides concrete strategies for successfully completing doctoral programs, enhances teaching and the mentoring expertise of faculty mentors, and presents seminars that prepare Fellows for their future faculty roles. In addition to hosting the Fellows in the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, the Compact for Faculty Diversity will monitor the Fellows progress toward completion of their degrees, and provide information pertinent to graduate school issues and biomedical careers. As participants in the Compact for Faculty Diversity, MARC Predoctoral Fellows join the largest national network of minority doctoral scholars who aspire to careers in the professoriate. National data show that the majority of Ph.D.'s in the biomedical and life science fields are employed by colleges and universities, and the most recent evaluation of the MARC Program reveals that the majority of Fellows are employed in academe. Although MARC Fellows receive excellent training and preparation for research careers, they rarely receive training in the broader roles they will assume as college professors. The Bridges to the Professoriate project fills the gap that exists between graduate school preparation and professional practice, while providing proven strategies for academic success at the doctoral level.
As practicing researchers, MARC Fellows who become faculty can provide significant benefits to society by developing a knowledge base that provides a greater understanding of the prevention and treatment of diseases that disproportionately affect minority populations. As mentors, role models, classroom instructors, and community leaders, they will significantly impact the lives of all students and future biomedical researchers with whom they come in contact.