For its efforts to support faculty during the pandemic, UMass Amherst received second place in the National Science Foundation’s Faculty STEM category. Taking action: Diversity, equity and inclusion challenge in relation to COVID-19.
Led by Provost John McCarthy and Joya Misra and Laurel Smith-Doerr of the UMass ADVANCE program, the university entry describes the university’s collaborative effort to rapidly develop and implement a suite of policies and programs to support faculty, including financial support to faculty for increased dependent care costs.
The submission outlined the Institutional COVID-19 “5-R” Action Plan, which centers equity in the facility’s response to the pandemic by reworking timelines, realizing care responsibilities, recognizing the work of the holistically, recalibrating assessments based on faculty contexts and workloads, and retraining assessors.
“Through meaningful collaboration from many different offices, UMass has been at the forefront of faculty support and fairness in the face of this extremely disruptive and traumatic pandemic,” says Misra, professor of sociology and public policy and co-investigator. main UMass ADVANCE. “This award reflects the partnership between the provost and his office, the Office of Faculty Development, the Massachusetts Society of Professors, the UMass Amherst Faculty Senate, and ADVANCE.”
“COVID-19 has taught us that we need to be careful in times of crisis, because that’s when inequalities can be exacerbated and we risk losing gains in faculty diversity and practices. fair,” says Smith-Doerr, a sociology professor. and UMass ADVANCE Principal Investigator. “Research shows that women and faculty at BIPOC have faced greater disruptions to their work during the pandemic. To maintain our brilliant diverse faculty, we must understand the problem and intervene.
The Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion challenge had two main objectives. First, the competition aimed to encourage higher education institutions to think deeply about the potentially long-term negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM and to develop solutions and systemic actions to mitigate impacts on STEM students. , postdoctoral researchers and professors. Second, the challenge will be used to create a repository of actions from award-winning and honorable mention submissions that can be widely shared to highlight the importance of these actions for diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM and to provide insights. to other institutes. of higher education to adapt these actions.
The runner-up prize includes a $15,000 prize, which Misra says will be used as part of a new pandemic recovery program developed by ADVANCE aimed at supporting faculty mentorship of UMass colleagues who are re-working. their research goals and approaches. The UMass ADVANCE team conducts cutting-edge research on collaboration and equity, which informs programs and initiatives such as supporting faculty to write pandemic impact statements and training department heads to fairly assess pandemic impact statements.
“We need to pay attention to how pandemic disruptions to faculty productivity can have lasting and uneven effects on careers, and intervene to help faculty recover,” Smith-Doerr says. “Our funding for greater gender equity in faculty in the NSF ADVANCE Program for Institutional Transformation has meant that UMass has had an on-campus program office focused on faculty equity while throughout the pandemic.”
Misra and Smith-Doerr note that in addition to McCarthy, the challenge submission was supported by Michelle Budig, professor of sociology and senior vice-rector, Amel Ahmed, associate professor of political science and associate rector, Michael Eagen, associate rector and Eve Weinbaum, associate professor of sociology and labor studies and co-president of the Massachusetts Society of Professors.
The NSF has distributed a total of $200,000 in cash prizes among the challenge winners and will host a virtual showcase in June where winners will share their actions and plans. After the showcase, an open-access repository of winning entries and honorable mentions will be widely shared for the benefit of all institutions facing similar situations due to the pandemic.