Diversity in STEM: University Receives National Science Foundation Grant

Corinna Vlahoyiannis

Recently, the University has been awarded a $3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Grant to fund a project over the next five years to support the excellence of female and underrepresented faculty members in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. Villanova is one of only five higher educational institutions to receive this grant in 2018.

“With this ADVANCE grant, [the University] will explore how best to engage, support and champion women and underrepresented faculty during transitional times,” Amanda M. Grannas, PhD, Associate Vice Provost for Research, Professor of Chemistry and the project’s Principal Investigator said. 

The University’s research team will focus primarily on fields of research and programming. Some of the aspects they will analyze include: recruiting and hiring practices, retention, culture of diversity and how the University’s evolving status as a research University affects STEM faculty.  Then, the research team will construct a model to better facilitate participation from females and underrepresented  minorities in STEM.

“We are proud of the important work this research team is undertaking and honored to receive the NSF ADVANCE grant,” University Provost Patrick G. Maggitti, PhD said. “It is essential that institutions such as Villanova continue to engage and support all members of our community, particularly during times of change.”

Members of the University’s research team include Grannas: Co-Principal Investigator Narda Quigley, PhD, Professor and Chair of Management & Operations, Villanova School of Business; Co-Principal Investigator Noelle Comolli, PhD, Associate Professor and Chair of Chemical Engineering, Villanova College of Engineering; Co-Principal Investigator Terry Nance, PhD, Associate Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Chief Diversity Officer; Internal Evaluator Seth Matthew Fishman, PhD, Director of Curriculum and Academic Outcomes and Assistant Professor of Education and Counseling in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Research team member Terri Boyer, EdD, Director of the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership.

As part of its study, this research team will collaborate with outside experts to create different training and engagement models which will then be tested on campus and department leaders. They will then assess which of their created programs proved most effective.  

Additionally, the five-year project will partner University faculty with the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership as well as with the University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) with the goal of developing the VISIBLE program (Villanova Initiative to Support Inclusiveness and Build Leaders) to develop initiatives to encourage the further advancement of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM.  

“This grant confirms in many ways the work we have been doing at the University and the clearly articulated and planned goals we have for the future,” Terry Nance, Associate Vice Provost for Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer said. 

“The greatest struggle in higher education is to turn our good intentions into action. With this ADVANCE Grant…Villanova will be the kind of community that is richly diverse in population and inclusive by practice—with equity as the standard for all we do.”