UGA: new cohort of STEM leadership fellows

The NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance, which engages a growing network of partners to support systemic change in the STEM higher education system, has announced the fourth cohort of 18 fellows in its IAspire Leadership Academy.

The academy is designed to support STEM faculty from underrepresented backgrounds to ascend to leadership roles at colleges and universities.

Led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the University of Georgia, the IAspire Leadership Academy provides professional development for academic leaders to succeed in leadership roles by equipping them with executive leadership skills and strategies for influencing institutional transformation.

“As we have begun to work with the fourth cohort of the academy, we are honored to support the aspirations of leaders from across the country,” said Rochelle Sapp, director of the IAspire Leadership Academy and leadership development specialist at UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Cooperative Extension. “With each successive cohort, we have seen the benefits of providing these emerging leaders from underrepresented groups in STEM opportunities to focus on their personal leadership skills, goals, and style. As we’ve been able to return to convening in person, we have also been able to see the power of community among the now 89 total IAspire fellows to create a lasting foundation of mutual support to advance their ongoing development and success.”

The academy is one pillar of diversity and inclusion work underway through the NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance. The National Science Foundation-backed alliance is working across post-secondary institutions to develop more inclusive institutional cultures to create a more inclusive and diverse STEM professoriate.

Rochelle Sapp, director of the IAspire Leadership Academy

“With many pressing challenges facing universities across the country, we’re grateful to see so many institutions supporting the participation of emerging STEM leaders from underrepresented groups in the fourth cohort of the IAspire Leadership Academy,” said Howard Gobstein, director of the NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance and senior vice president at the APLU. “The IAspire fellows are extraordinarily talented, and we’re excited to see the promise that can be realized by supporting and unleashing their potential.”

The academy is targeted at mid-career individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups interested in serving in college or university leadership roles in STEM fields. The 18 participating faculty and administrators were selected through a competitive, holistic review of their applications. The fellows selected for fourth cohort of the IAspire Leadership Academy are:

  • Rebecca Atadero, associate professor, Colorado State University
  • Anjan Basu, academic advisor/lecturer, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • Mona Behl, associate director of Georgia Sea Grant, UGA
  • Catherine Blake, professor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Julia Bowsher, associate professor, North Dakota State University
  • Mark Buckley, associate professor, University of Rochester
  • Rachel Ellestad, director, Engineering Fundamentals, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Taviare Hawkins, division chair for math and sciences, Saint Catherine University
  • Guiping Hu, associate chair, Iowa State University
  • Dihema Longman, interim associate chair, Georgia State University-Perimeter College
  • Sonya Lopez, associate professor, California State University, Los Angeles
  • Matthew McCullough, associate dean for graduate enrollment, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • Laura Naumann, associate professor of psychology, Nevada State College
  • Sami Raut, associate professor, The University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Kathryn Schreiner, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Johnelle Sparks, senior associate dean for faculty success and administration, University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Saadet Toker Beeson, associate professor, University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Eve Walters, associate professor of instruction, Temple University

The leadership academy provides an immersive professional development program for academic leaders from underrepresented groups. Working in small groups in monthly meetings combined with three week-long immersive sessions, the fellows learn effective executive leadership skills for increasingly complex higher education environments as well as strategies for influencing institutional transformation in their current and future leadership positions.

IAspire Fellows are also invited to participate in Aspire’s IThrive Collective, a community of support and counterspace designed to amplify the voices of underrepresented group faculty to inform institutional transformation efforts.

Learn more about the IAspire Leadership Academy on the Aspire Alliance IAspire Leadership Academy site.


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