Howard University, Georgetown University, and Morgan State University have formed the Baltimore-Washington Area Alliance (BWA) and will undertake planning activities with this project. With the planning grant, BWA intends to assess current graduate student interest in faculty positions and to strengthen the existing Howard-UTEP Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) and Postdoc Institutes (PDI) informed by survey and other evaluation data.

Intellectual Merit. Because of growing science and technology needs of an increasingly globalized economy, the United States is in greater need than ever before of a scientifically trained citizenry. This growing need coincides with significant demographic changes in the U.S., where minority populations that historically have been underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines are becoming an ever-larger share of the population. Ensuring that this population gains access to necessary training in STEM is an important national goal, and increasing the number of STEM professors from these backgrounds is an important step---as a matter of equity and as a matter of policy. This planning project will draw on findings from research literature about the importance of creating intellectual and social community for minority STEM students, breaking down barriers that isolate them from the informal culture of science, and creating professional networking opportunities that these students otherwise might not have. The planning project also draws on research that is specific to the National Science Foundation?s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program, taking lessons learned from research about the program to create a more cohesive Alliance of colleges and universities. In drawing on this research, the proposal seeks to make the efforts of individual institutions coherent, allowing them to become more than the sum of their parts. BWA will leverage resources of a metropolitan area that is rich in professional development opportunities for minority students and the resources of 3 major universities in ways that address research-based findings about the needs of STEM minority students. It will do so in ways that maximize the efficacy of projects under the aegis of the national AGEP program.

Broader Impact. The activities in this planning grant will influence STEM graduate education at two of the nation?s leading producers of African American STEM PhDs and will therefore have a noteworthy national effect on the pipeline of African Americans entering the professoriate. Additionally, the anticipated enhancement of the extant PFF and PDI will increase professional development and networking opportunities for BWA students and students from universities beyond the Alliance. The project also builds upon an existing consortium of 14 universities and includes the intention to design a structured, internet based, consortium-wide network of postdoc opportunities and faculty position listings. This network will create a registry of STEM trained minorities from which all 14 of the schools in the consortium can recruit new faculty and postdocs. This project will also improve the student level data including milestones in their educational careers.

Project Report

Intellectual Merit The Baltimore-Washington Area Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (BWA-AGEP) was formed in 2011 by Howard University, Georgetown University, and Morgan State University, in response to a solicitation from the National Science Foundation. The Alliance submitted a planning grant to engage in transformative AGEP- related planning activities with the implicit understanding that a full proposal submission would be due in 2012. The combination of Howard University and Morgan State University, two leading producers of underrepresented minority (URM) Ph.D.s; Howard’s historical involvement with AGEP; and the plethora of strong new educational and faculty preparation opportunities made possible through the added resources of Georgetown University, laid a solid foundation for the BWA-AGEP Alliance to succeed in its mission of increasing the number of URMs earning doctoral degrees in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and entering the professoriate. The Alliance successfully addressed the three objectives that were established: 1) continue best practices learned from the HUTEP-AGEP Alliance (a predecessor Alliance between Howard University and the University of Texas-El Paso spanning xx years) on recruitment of URMs into STEM doctoral programs; 2) improve retention efforts; 3) increase the number of URMs entering the professoriate. A series of planning actives designed to accomplish these goals were submitted to the NSF in November 2011 and the BWA-AGEP was funded to implement the proposed activities. A brief description follows of the activities completed during the grant year 2011-2012. Each of the three Alliance partners provided both common and unique contributions as well as collaborative overarching activities. Examples included: Sponsored the tenth annual Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Summer Institute in which 87students from across the United States were provided with intensive training and experiences to enhance their preparation for the professoriate. Additionally, Institute participants also had the opportunity to interact with their peers and leading STEM and SBES professionals. Hosted by Howard University. Conducted a survey of Alliance students to evaluate the interest of STEM and SBES doctoral students in the professoriate. The results of this survey revealed that there was high interest in the professoriate, however this interest was marred by the perception of low faculty salaries compounded with the uncertainty of finding a job in academe. Conducted a Dissertation Bootcamp. Recognizing the need for programs and strategies to decrease attrition of ABDs, the BWA-AGEP Alliance designed, implemented, and evaluated a Dissertation Workshop to assist students at this precarious juncture of their academic training. The week-long workshop provided information on the challenges faced at the dissertation-writing stage and provided guidance on overcoming variousobstacles. Evaluation of the workshop activities resulted in redesign of future workshops. All institutions in the Alliance have been exposed to training on the AGEP-Tracking System (TS) developed by Xcalibur, Inc. The system is fully operational at Howard University. The planning activities at Georgetown focused on developing an online resource to support professional development activities including conference presentations, grant applications, and job applications for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. A full evaluation of necessary modifications of the "Global Server" interactive software system is complete. Implementation at Howard and Morgan awaits clarification of information privacy issues. The BWA-AGEP team met with representatives of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. As a result of this meeting, a plan was developed to launch a website that lists current postdoctoral and assistant professor openings in the Washington DC area. Implementation is pending. Broader impacts The impact of the Alliance includes strengthening the ability of its members to encourage and prepare URM students in STEM fields to enter the professorate, in part by providing assessment and evaluation of professional development activities such as financial planning, network building, and pedagogical training. Essentially, our approach articulates the benefit of the Alliance itself in encouraging URMs to enter the professorate. With the aid of a full implementation grant, we intend to demonstrate the extent to which the Alliance provides opportunities and resources not available through individual institutions. Overall Conclusions/Statement The BWA-AGEP Alliance used this NSF funding opportunity to plan and create innovative programs and support systems intended to aid in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority (URM) students in STEM disciplines. Building upon proven programs, such as the Preparing Future Faculty summer institute hosted by Howard University over the past decade, the Alliance is optimistic that the program innovations developed in the planning process will be beneficial to URM students in the Baltimore-Washington area and serve as a model for programs nationally. The planning grant has ended, but the BWA Alliance is seeking additional funding to continue its activities into the future.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Human Resource Development (HRD)
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Mark H. Leddy
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Howard University
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