Pitt Joins National Alliance Aimed at Developing a More Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty

Five people sit around a table, discussingThe University of Pittsburgh has been selected as one of 19 universities joining a three-year institutional change effort to develop inclusive faculty recruitment, hiring and retention practices.

The Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty program is administered by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). The new cohort joins two earlier cohorts that are currently working together to advance such work, bringing the total number of institutions participating in the institutional change effort to 54. The National Science Foundation funds the effort as part of its INCLUDES initiative.

Aimed at ensuring all STEM faculty use inclusive teaching practices and that institutions increase the diversity of their STEM professoriate, the program will assist Pitt in a self-assessment of current practices and assets, and provide support to develop and implement an action plan to drive change and scale such efforts across STEM programs.

"It is an honor to be recognized by the APLU and we look forward to the collaborations and new learning that will emerge as we participate in the alliance," said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd. "Through our participation in this STEM-focused program we hope to deepen and develop strategies to support diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for our faculty and students in all fields." 

Pitt educates thousands of students and garners hundreds of millions of dollars for STEM research and education each year across 76 STEM departments, seven schools with a STEM focus and nearly 4,500 STEM faculty.

Through our participation in this STEM-focused program we hope to deepen and develop strategies to support diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for our faculty and students in all fields.

Ann E. Cudd

“The goals of the Aspire Alliance align strongly with the goals, aspirations and commitments of the University of Pittsburgh as highlighted in our Strategic Plan,” said John Wallace, vice provost for faculty diversity and development. “Pitt’s participation in the Aspire Alliance will enhance our efforts to increase diversity, equity and inclusion across STEM disciplines.”

The Aspire Alliance, which APLU and the University of Wisconsin-Madison facilitate with the involvement of several universities, is engaging this new cohort of 19 universities through its Institutional Change (IChange) Network. The network provides universities with comprehensive support and resources for institutional change, including access to national partners in a concierge-style approach to technical assistance.

Participation in the network will support Pitt’s existing efforts to increase STEM diversity, equity and inclusion through work in the Discipline-Based Science Education Research Center (dB-SERC), University Center for Teaching and Learning and Broadening Equity in STEM (BE STEM), which is working to create a set of best practices to accredit STEM precollege programs through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. On Oct. 21, a multi-million dollar gift from a Swanson School of Engineering alumnus and his wife was announced to benefit underrepresented students in the school’s EXCEL program.

“We face a critical shortfall of diversity in STEM fields nationally,” said Travis York, APLU’s assistant vice president of academic and student affairs, who is also co-leader of the IChange Network. “The institutions participating in the IChange Network are moving beyond statements into actions as they seek to enact inclusive organizational structures to increase diversity of their faculty and value the use of equity-minded practices by all faculty as we work to address a national challenge.”