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Establishing Pathways to the Professoriate for Underrepresented Minority Students

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Graduate Study Programs Supporting Diversity and Underrepresented Minority Students - Graduate Studies Division Technical Session 4

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Graduate Studies

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Paper Authors


Audeen W. Fentiman Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Audeen Fentiman is Associate Dean of Engineering for Graduate Education and Interdsiciplinary Programs and the Crowley Family Professor in Engineering Education at Purdue University.

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Janet M. Beagle Purdue University College of Engineering

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Dr. Janet Beagle is the Director of Graduate Programs for Purdue University’s College of Engineering. Formerly the Director of Graduate Admissions over five campuses and more than 100 graduate programs, she has worked with graduate recruitment and admissions for more than 10 years. One of her key roles is to support students as they learn about and apply for graduate study. She has traveled internationally and presented to students on three continents on preparing for graduate school.

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Phillip S. Dunston Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Phillip S. Dunston is a Professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, where he also holds a joint appointment in the Division of Construction Engineering and Management. He obtained his doctorate from North Carolina State University and served on the Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty at the University of Washington prior to joining the faculty at Purdue.

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Susan K. Fisher Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Title: Establishing Pathways to the Professoriate for Underrepresented Minority Students

A grant from the Provost’s Office at a large Midwestern university is supporting a program to establish pathways to the professoriate for underrepresented minority students from minority serving institutions (MSIs). This paper will describe how underrepresented minority undergraduate students with either an expressed interest in pursuing, or the potential to pursue, a faculty career in engineering are identified, what opportunities are being provided to help them prepare for a faculty career, and the students’ reactions to the opportunities thus far.

Identification of underrepresented minority students at MSIs who have the potential to become engineering faculty members begins with developing networks of research-active faculty members at the MSIs and the large Midwestern university. Faculty members visit each other’s institutions, present research seminars, and explore opportunities for collaborative research that will involve undergraduate and graduate students. When faculty members from the Midwestern university visit MSIs, they also talk with students there about graduate school, including how to pay for it, and faculty careers.

MSI faculty members and senior staff identify students from the MSIs who are one or two years from graduation and have an interest in research. Those students are encouraged to apply to a summer undergraduate research program at the Midwestern university, and if selected, they are matched with a faculty member conducting research in an area of interest to the student. After the summer experience, the faculty member at the Midwestern university and the student’s advisor at the MSI co-mentor the student. Together, the faculty members help the student prepare for graduate school and encourage him or her to apply. They help the student identify graduate programs that would be a good fit (not necessarily the large Midwestern university), prepare an application for graduate school, and identify and apply for appropriate fellowships.

To date, nine participants in the Pathways to the Professoriate program have had an opportunity to provide comments on the 2016 summer research experience. In a 90-minute discussion, the students answered questions such as what attracted them to the program, what aspects should be emphasized when advertising such a program, and how, when, and by whom that information should be provided. Responses to all of the questions will be presented in the paper, but one of many insights provided by the participants was as follows: while many undergraduates have had internships of various durations in industry and feel that they understand what a job in industry entails, few have had an “internship” as a graduate student. The summer “internship” as a graduate student confirmed for almost all participants that they want to pursue graduate work.

Following discussions with the participants, a new component of the program, dubbed Early Pathways, is being planned for the spring. Early Pathways will bring younger MSI students to the Midwestern university campus for a couple of days to talk with faculty and graduate students, visit laboratories, and learn about the interesting, rewarding work faculty members do.

Fentiman, A. W., & Beagle, J. M., & Dunston, P. S., & Fisher, S. K. (2017, June), Establishing Pathways to the Professoriate for Underrepresented Minority Students Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28294

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