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We also re working to apply the "Meyerhoff Model" throughout the university.
One example is our effort to increase the number of women S&E faculty and to
bolster their professional development. Supported by an ADVANCE grant from
the National Science Foundation, we have listened to the voices of women (and
men) faculty and department chairs, all of whom are working to make a
difference. They are learning from one another about best practices, such as
the critical role mentoring plays in the development of women faculty in
scientific and technical fields. The data reflect our success. Since 1999, UMBC
has increased the number of women faculty in S&E tenure-track positions from 20
to 39, while the number of men in these positions has remained unchanged. Women
now occupy nearly a quarter of all S&E tenure-track positions compared with only
13 percent in 1999.
Lessons learned from the undergraduate Meyerhoff Program also have been helpful
as we build graduate initiatives focused on producing S&E doctorates among
underrepresented groups. Of all the factors, perhaps the most important has
been the idea of building community: providing opportunities for graduate
students to interact regularly among themselves and with faculty mentors.
As the Meyerhoff program as gained national visibility, we have worked with
other institutions interested in replicating the model. In addition, I have had
the pleasure each year of leading a Harvard seminar on academic leadership for
dozens of college presidents. We discuss the opportunity to provide moral
leadership and effect institutional change, helping our campuses identify and
address critical issues and challenges. We also discuss the presidential role in
creating a campus environment where people can openly and honestly focus on the
sticky issues of the day. We have found that only in such a climate—one
that includes a truly diverse community of scholars—can we talk generally
about race in relation to academic achievement and, more specifically, about
minority student success in science.
Freeman Hrabowski was the keynote speaker at each of the three Symposia on Diversity in the Sciences, a series of HHMI-sponsored meetings held at universities across the country in 2005-06 (see Upfront, "Diversifying Science").
Interview by Ruth Polk