Understanding how science diversity programs are implemented at two predominantly White research universities

2012 2012

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Abstract (summary)

Over the past 20 years, many colleges and universities have developed diversity support programs aimed at improving underrepresented minority student success in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. Developing such programs is important for facilitating higher minority-graduation rates in STEM and broadening the pipeline of minority students pursuing advanced degrees in science and medicine. Extensive research has been conducted that examines specific program components and their proposed impact on minority academic-achievement outcomes. However, far fewer inquiries have been performed that enhance our understanding of how institutions successfully integrate these programs into existing academic units and cultures.

Through a multiple case-study approach, this research explored how science diversity programs were started and sustained at two predominantly White research institutions, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Miami. To that end, key factors that either led to or inhibited change were examined, such as administrative buy-in, mission alignment, faculty engagement, organizational culture, financial support, and program leadership, through one-on-one interviews with science faculty, staff, and administrators. Data collected from state legislative documents, federal court opinions, national policy statements, institutional strategic plans, institutional websites, academic annual reports, and printed program materials were also used to construct the case studies.

Applying organizational change theory as the conceptual framework, the study suggests that four important components of a successful program start and sustain efficacy: alignment with the existing culture of the science unit in which the program resides; beginning with smaller efforts centered around particular themes or goals; faculty and administrative buy-in; and a program-sustainability plan established through mainstreaming strategies, faculty incentives, predictable funding streams, and leadership succession planning. Additionally, the findings show that in order to effectively implement the four components of creating successful change, placing a passionate, committed leader at the helm of the initiative is critical for program viability. The programs studied at each campus offer lessons and insights for others seeking to create and implement science diversity programs at comparable institutions.

Indexing (details)

Higher Education Administration;
Educational leadership;
Higher education
0446: Higher Education Administration
0449: Educational leadership
0745: Higher education
Identifier / keyword
Education; Diversity; Implement; Leadership; Minority; Organizational change; Predominantly White; Research universities; STEM; Science
Understanding how science diversity programs are implemented at two predominantly White research universities
Comella, Bonnie E.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Finney, Joni E.
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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