UChicago joins consortium promoting diversity in graduate education

The University of Chicago has been chosen to join the Creating Connections Consortium, a select group of research institutions and liberal arts colleges dedicated to promoting diversity in higher education by finding better ways to hire and support graduate students from underrepresented groups in tenure-track faculty positions.

UChicago’s membership in the consortium, also called C3, means that UChicago graduate students in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, math and statistics are eligible now to apply for two-year postdoctoral fellowships at the Consortium’s four lead liberal arts member institutions—Bates College, Connecticut College, Middlebury College and Williams College.

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the fellowships offer postdocs structured mentoring and a reduced teaching load, and are designed to provide a competitive edge in applying to permanent, tenure-track positions at a network of 24 liberal arts colleges that are part of the Liberal Arts Diversity Officers consortium. The fellowships are exclusively available to students from C3’s member research institutions, which, in addition to UChicago, include the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia University and the University of Michigan.

“The University of Chicago is honored to be a part of C3,” said Sian Beilock, vice provost for academic initiatives and head of UChicagoGRAD, a new office launched in May with the goal of complementing the University’s academic training with a suite of programs and services to help graduate students and postdocs navigate their academic and professional careers.  

Beilock said UChicagoGRAD applied for C3 membership last fall, underwent a rigorous selection process and was chosen in November based on the strength of its proposal and its commitment to improving student and faculty diversity. “This resource is one of an increasing number of options available to our graduate students,” she said. “We are eager to create opportunities for our students and to help contribute to the national dialogue on diversity in graduate education and academia.”

UChicago grad students also will be recruited directly to tenure-track positions at Liberal Arts Diversity Officers consortium schools. In spring 2016 representatives from those schools will come to UChicago as part of GradUCon, the annual career conference sponsored by UChicagoGRAD, said Celina Chatman Nelson, assistant director of graduate career development. “This gives students a leg up; it’s an opportunity for them to build relationships with the people who are making decisions about these positions.”

As part of its affiliation with C3, UChicago also will offer undergraduate fellowships to bring underrepresented students enrolled at liberal arts institutions to campus to participate in summer research programming. Slated to begin next year, the fellowships will help the University recruit a more diverse pool of graduate students.

Bringing together diverse perspectives to engage in rigorous scholarship has long been a priority for the University. As a member of the consortium, UChicagoGRAD will work with other C3 partners to develop effective strategies for institutions to enable full participation by all individuals, especially those from historically underrepresented groups.