UChicago partners on initiative to advance diversity and inclusion in academia

University selects five faculty fellows for Ivy+ leadership institute, will host event in April

The University of Chicago is partnering with the country’s leading research universities on a new initiative aimed at advancing diversity and inclusion in higher education.

UChicago is the host institution of the Ivy+ Faculty Advancement Network (FAN), a consortium of peer universities seeking innovative collaborations to open pathways through the academic profession. For its inaugural initiative, the consortium has selected nearly 50 faculty fellows, including five faculty from UChicago, to explore efforts to make their departments and disciplines more diverse. Those fellows will gather this spring at the University for a capstone event to discuss learnings from the past academic year.

“Diversity is a core value of our institution, and collaboration is essential in order to address the common challenges we share across institutions of higher learning,” said Provost Ka Yee C. Lee. “Through this institute, the Faculty Advancement Network offers a unique cohort experience for faculty to come together to share past experiences and learn best practices to apply at their home institutions to make progress in these crucial areas.”

In 2017, UChicago convened university leaders to identify collaborative approaches to address the lack of diversity at the graduate student, postdoctoral, and faculty levels, and to identify ways of creating more supportive and inclusive environments. With support from the universities and additional funding from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, FAN officially launched in 2020 with a robust series of virtual inclusive leadership workshops open to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re committed to supporting FAN members in our shared goals of achieving a more diverse and inclusive professoriate,” said Waldo E. Johnson Jr., vice provost and professor in the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice and a member of FAN’s executive committee. “We expect FAN’s collaborative investments will reimagine the structures, policies, and programs that shape university cultures and the academic workforce.”

In addition to UChicago, FAN member institutions to date include Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.

The consortium’s initial strategic priorities include the recently launched Ivy+ Institute on Inquiry, Equity, & Leadership in the Academic Department. An inaugural cohort of 49 STEM faculty fellows selected by academic leadership at 10 FAN institutions attended the in-person kickoff event at Yale in the fall of 2022.

Throughout the 2022–23 academic year, fellows are engaging in a series of online workshops, supplemented by “masterclass”-style videos and research-based tools on topics including service and workload, searches and hiring, mentoring, graduate education, culture and climate, and excellence, merit and peer review. The videos and tools will be shared further in future UChicago faculty development programs.

In April 2023, the University will host the fellows for a capstone event at the Rubenstein Forum, where teams will develop and pitch collaborative projects to a panel of experts for their feedback.

“This institute provides a much-desired space for faculty leaders to share, think, make mistakes and process with colleagues in a confidential context,” said Kiernan Mathews, executive director of FAN. “I am grateful to the University for being ‘first among equals’ as host of our consortium and also of the institute’s groundbreaking efforts.”

UChicago’s Ivy+ Provost Leadership Fellows include:

  • Vineet Arora, the Herbert T. Abelson Professor of Medicine and dean for Medicine Education
  • Andrew J. Campbell, Professor in the Department of Geophysical Sciences
  • Young-Kee Kim, the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor of Physics and the College
  • Diane S. Lauderdale, the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor of Public Health Sciences and the College
  • Dan L. Nicolae, Professor of Statistics, Medicine, Human Genetics and the College

“As one of the only physicians in the program, I wasn’t sure initially what immersing myself into this program with so many university STEM leaders would mean for me,” Arora said. “After participating, I can honestly say there is much common ground across disciplines in higher education when approaching faculty recruitment and retention or ensuring a climate for diverse learners to thrive. The value is in learning from social science experts and problem solving together. Although there is no formal ‘school’ to prepare for a leadership position in higher education, this is the kind of training we benefit from.”

FAN’s steering committee will continue to evaluate the progress of this institute to determine the shape it should take in the future. Scaling the program’s impact will involve new learning modules, larger cohorts, different disciplinary clusters, and supporting Institute alumni in their cross-consortium collaborations. In another future initiative, FAN aims to foster cooperation among its members’ diversity, faculty affairs, and institutional research leaders on shared principles for measuring progress in faculty diversity and inclusion.

For more information and updates on the consortium’s progress, visit the Faculty Advancement Network website.