Over the past academic year, RIT has experienced many “firsts” including the first full year of our NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant.  The Advance RIT program created to lead this effort is fully staffed and operational with two full-time employees, over twenty instructional faculty, nearly ten students, five key university partnering administrative units, several internal and external evaluators, an engaged internal Executive Advisory Committee including the President and Provost, and a highly qualified External Advisory Board. Ramping up this program to its current level has been a large task.  This challenge has been made easier by the intrinsic motivation and excitement felt and expressed by members of this large program team and many others throughout our university community who are excited about this opportunity and the potential that this effort has on transforming our university.  Visit our website (http://nsfadvance.rit.edu/) to learn more and read some key highlights from this past year.

Program Launch

The AdvanceRIT grant team launched its $3.5 million institutional transformation program, “Connect: Increasing the Representation and Advancement of Women Faculty at RIT,” formally on February 13 during a campus ceremony. Marjolein van der Meulen, professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell University and principal investigator for Cornell’s ADVANCE effort, ‘lived the statistics’ of being one of only a handful of women in her engineering department. 

It is a similar situation in which women in academia, particularly those in STEM fields—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—find themselves.  During her keynote address, van der Meulen provided encouragement and information about what to expect as RIT looks to increase the representation and advancement of female faculty at the university through professional development programing, networking, mentoring and policy review.  The program launch also served to recognize several faculty teams receiving Connect grants through the ADVANCE Program. Eight individual and team grants received funding to support leadership and career development for tenured and tenure track faculty at the university.

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Connectivity Series Highlights

The Advance RIT Program launched its professional development initiative, Connectivity Series, this spring.  Its most recent offering “Daring Appreciation: Strategies for Increasing Recognition of Your Work” was attended by nearly 20 female faculty from across campus and at varied stages of their careers. The focus of the panel was based on how rewards and recognition play a part in securing tenure, broadening research initiatives and contacts, and in opening doors to academic service and leadership opportunities as well as promotion.  Panelists Callie Babbitt, Manuela Campanelli and Kara Maki talked about balancing strategic, purposeful conversations and activities with more personal approaches that allow female faculty to be seen as accomplished as their male counterparts.  Additional Advance RIT professional development topics have included COACh Negotiation, Imag(in)ing Women: Language, Representation and Stereotypes, and Performance Conversations.  Over 285 women and men faculty attended Advance RIT program offerings during the spring 2014 semester.

Connect Grants

In January 2014, the AdvanceRIT team collaborated with Faculty Career Development Services and the Office of the Provost to launch the initial offering of the Connect Grants.  The grants support leadership and career development for all tenured and tenure-track faculty. The grant program has two distinct funding tracks: one for faculty and one for department chairs. Twenty-three submissions were made to the Connect Grant program in the initial offering.  A cross-university, mixed gender, faculty selection committee reviewed the submissions and recommended funding decisions.  Topics supported in the first round of funding include peer-to-peer mentoring; gendered citation disparities in philosophy of science; application of the Appreciative Inquiry Process; post tenure mentoring and leadership initiatives; re-submission efforts for successful external funding; and effective mentoring and leadership skills for deaf and hard-of-hearing women faculty.  Look for a second round of funding in fall of 2014.


AdvanceRIT faculty team members examined the faculty award structure as an indicator of evolving university values that esteem the achievements of faculty and support them in their career advancement.

Their new research, titled “Faculty Awards at a Large Private Institution: An Indicator of Evolving University Values,” indicates that, over a five-year period examined (academic years 2007-08 through 2011-12), women at the university were underrepresented, at 12.1%, as award recipients, when by their representation among the faculty one would expect 30.5% ± 8.0%.  Results will be presented at the 2014 American Society of Engineering Education annual conference scheduled for this June. The faculty awards study supports the overall project goal by examining the university’s award recipient history, identifying patterns that may have existed and if necessary suggesting strategies to identify areas for change.

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Join us in 2014 - 2015...

2014 – 2015 Connect Grants funding cycle…Save the Date - DECEMBER 11, 2014 - Michigan Players – Using Theatre to enhance teaching and learning and improve institutional climate (http://www.crlt.umich.edu/crltplayers) ….COACh Negotiation Workshop returns in spring 2015…And much more!