PROMISE, the Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) in Maryland, proposes a new, expanded alliance, titled the PROMISE Pathways Project, that seeks to expand upon successes from two prior AGEP projects by partnering with additional institutions to increase the numbers of underrepresented minority students (URMs) who will pursue graduate degrees in STEM fields, increase the retention of URM graduate students in STEM, facilitate more postdoctoral opportunities for participants, prepare graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for the professoriate, and facilitate applications and opportunities for academic careers at a variety of institutions. Formed in 2002 and led by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), PROMISE is a multi-institution consortium that includes UMBC, the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). This proposed PROMISE Pathways project explores and develops the infrastructure needed to expand the current alliance to include potentially all of the universities within the University System of Maryland, four Maryland-based community colleges, and a former NSF Model Institution of Excellence (MIE) Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in Puerto Rico. The new members of PROMISE Pathways will build upon the recruitment and retention successes that UMBC, UMCP, and UMB made with previous AGEP funding to move their respective undergraduate students to graduate programs at doctoral granting public research universities in Maryland, build relationships among faculty, and provide advanced graduate students and postdocs with mentored teaching and training opportunities so that they can be equipped to be the next generation of STEM professors. The plan for the new PROMISE Pathways project has four major components: 1. Creating an expanded pipeline of underrepresented students from Maryland?s institutions who will pursue doctoral degrees. 2. Developing a stronger network of STEM faculty within the State of Maryland who will facilitate research collaborations that will involve underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students, and foster a stronger sense of mentoring underrepresented students in STEM throughout the state. 3. Providing Maryland?s underrepresented STEM doctoral students with programs that facilitate collegial academic networks, professional development, and degree completion. 4. Offering advanced graduate students and postdocs interactive workshops that will train them for the professoriate along with hands-on, mentored teaching experiences at a wide range of institutions, including research institutions, Predominately White Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Community Colleges.

Intellectual Merit: The PROMISE Pathways project will facilitate wider academic networks for research collaboration. It will also advance and inform the field of graduate education and the sub-disciplines of broadening participation in STEM and psychological sense of community for retention of URMs in STEM. The project will explore creative writing conferences (e.g. application/proposal/dissertation/portfolio house) to coach students through document preparation. The project will also develop a suite of mentored teaching opportunities to facilitate preparation for the professoriate. Both of these examples are potentially transformative with respect to developing a new generation of diverse professors. The concepts are based on 7 years of successful projects at smaller levels and are being considered for expansion. The campuses have the resources, facilities, and administrative support to develop the activities in this Pathways proposal.

Broader Impacts: This Pathways project advances discovery and understanding of retention, pedagogy, and factors of influence for pursuing the professoriate. It promotes teaching, training, and learning through peer mentoring, mentored teaching experiences by faculty, and training/coaching methods that will prepare participants for each milestone in their careers. This project broadens the participation of underrepresented groups by specifically focusing on advancing underrepresented minorities in STEM toward the professoriate. The project also attends to participants with visible and invisible disabilities. This project will enhance the distance learning infrastructure for professional development activities between partner campuses. Results will be disseminated widely through conference proceedings, journal submissions, and particularly through the PROMISE network of blogs and websites. The expanded impact to society will include an understanding of methods and models that can facilitate URM STEM retention and transition to the professoriate. The project seeks to be a model that can be replicated for other institutions, alliances, and university systems in the U.S.

Project Report

partnership was designed to explore the feasibility of expanding the current National Science Foundation's PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program from three public research Universities in Maryland, to a sustainable, university system-wide network. The initial three universities were the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC: An Honors University in Maryland, lead institution), the University of Maryland College Park (the flagship campus for the state), and the University of Maryland Baltimore (the founding campus of the University System of Maryland). The purpose for establishing the new, expanded network was to facilitate recruitment and retention of underrepresented, minority (URM) graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines, for as many URM graduate students and postdocs as possible, through all of the institutions within the University System of Maryland (USM). The PROMISE program had been established at the three institutions, but it didn’t have a state-wide presence, and it didn’t have representation within the state’s university system office. Our project also sought to facilitate wider academic networks for research collaboration, both within the PROMISE program's internal administration with a focus on STEM education, and for all participants of the PROMISE AGEP (these include graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and external mentor/conference speakers.) Our AGEP achieved this goal! Through meetings of the graduate school deans across the institutions, wider dissemination of information regarding minority excellence in graduate education through upper levels of administration at the universities, and regular updates to and participation from the USM, the state of Maryland now has a solid, system-wide AGEP program. The PROMISE Pathways project established the base for the new phase of AGEP, which built research components and conceptual frameworks into the AGEP structure. PROMISE Pathways provided the strong background for our 2013-1017 project within this new phase; our current NSF AGEP award is PROMISE AGEP: Maryland Transformation (AGEP-T). The success of the PROMISE Pathways project led to endorsement of the new PROMISE AGEP-T program from the Chancellor of the USM, support from presidents of the universities within the USM, active participation in discussions about the PROMISE AGEP by the Graduate Deans of the USM, and participation in PROMISE meetings and activities by the USM’s Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. PROMISE Pathways also contributed to the field of graduate education and the sub-disciplines of broadening participation in STEM by discussing "psychological sense of community" as a construct for retention of URMs in STEM. PROMISE Pathways further solidified projects such as "The Dissertation House" for graduate students to write their dissertations, and the "Writing for Publication" and "Postdoctoral Writing Suite" sessions to assist graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with writing articles for peer-reviewed journals and other publications. PROMISE Pathways laid the ground work to expand the PROF-it "Professors-in-Training" program to provide graduate students and postdocs with mentored teaching experiences to prepare for professoriate. This phase of the project had an unexpected by-product. As a result of the PROF-it seminars, and particularly the "Professoriate-based" seminars and workshops that we offered through the PROMISE multi-day August Summer Success Institute (SSI), several of our alumni returned to PROMISE events and programs to seek assistance with attaining tenure. PROMISE now has former participants who were recently awarded tenure. Broader Impacts: PROMISE Pathways has advanced discovery and understanding of retention, pedagogy, and factors of influence for pursuing the professoriate. This project has broadened the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM, attended to participants with visible and invisible disabilities, and has served as a model program for URM graduate recruitment and retention in Maryland; other schools within the US, Alaska, and Puerto Rico; and in Latin America. The expansion of the project through PROMISE Pathways has also provided an opportunity to develop teaching collaborations with local community and adult-serving colleges (e.g., Community College of Baltimore County, Anne Arundel Community College, and the Ana G. Mendez. University). In addition, PROMISE Pathways set the groundwork for attracting URM career professionals from local corporate and government organizations such as NASA, and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, who now want to return to graduate school for a STEM graduate degree, or who want to participate in PROMISE to mentor students, so that they can begin the process of changing careers to become professors. Promising practices of PROMISE and its programs such as The Dissertation House, the SSI, and PROF-it, have now been disseminated in general higher education and STEM discipline-specific, national and international publication venues. A key paper is: Tull, R. G., Rutledge, J.C., Warnick, J. W., and Carter, F. D. (2012). PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate Enhances Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Minority Graduate Students. Academic Medicine, 87(11), p. 1562-1569. Other papers that discuss the outcomes of PROMISE are listed on the PROMISE Publications page:

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Human Resource Development (HRD)
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Earnestine P. Easter
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University of Maryland Baltimore County
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