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Making Changes: Application of an NSF-ADVANCE PAID Grant at a Predominantly Undergraduate Institution (PUI)

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session - Retaining and Developing Women Faculty

Tagged Divisions

Women in Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy

Tagged Topics

Diversity, ASEE Diversity Committee, and Engineering Deans Council

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Paper Authors


Theresa M. Vitolo Gannon University

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Theresa M. Vitolo is an Associate Professor in the Computer and Information Science Department, Gannon University (Erie, PA). Teaching in systems-related fields since 1986, she joined the Computer and Information Science Department at Gannon University in 1999. In addition to teaching, she has worked as a systems analyst / programmer on a variety of systems development projects. Her academic background includes a B.S.E. in industrial engineering and a Ph.D. in information science; her industry experience includes systems analysis and cognitive science applications. She is one of the Principal Investigators on two NSF S-STEM and one NSF ADVANCE-PAID grants. With a life-long interest in technology and its potential for enhancing human capabilities, her research includes advances in analytics, motivated system energetics, and other topics relative to knowledge-intensive systems.

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Karinna M Vernaza Gannon University

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Dr. Karinna Vernaza joined Gannon University in 2003, and she is currently a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department and Associate Dean of the College of Engineering and Business. She earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame. Her B.S. is in Marine Systems Engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Her primary teaching responsibilities are in the solid mechanics and materials areas, including biomaterials. She was awarded the 2012 ASEE NCS Outstanding Teacher Award, 2013 Gannon University Distinguished Faculty Award and 2013-2014 Gannon University Faculty Award for Excellence in Service-Learning. Vernaza does research in the area of alternative fuels (biodiesel), engineering education (active learning techniques), and high-strain deformation of materials. She is currently the PI of an NSF S-STEM and ADVANCE-PAID grants. Dr. Vernaza has been a member of the ASEE NCS Board since 2013 holding vice-chair (2015-16) and director at-large (2013-15) positions.

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Lori D. Lindley Gannon University

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Lori D. Lindley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Counseling, and the Associate Dean of the College of Humanities, Education, and Social Sciences. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Iowa State University. She serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Vocational Behavior and the Journal of Career Assessment. Her research is on women’s career development, specifically self-efficacy and career barriers.

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Elisa M. Konieczko Gannon University

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Elisa M. Konieczko, Professor of Biology at Gannon University, received her bachelor's degree from Gannon University and doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She is a Co-PI on NSF ADVANCE Award HRD-1107015. She is a member of the American Association for Cell Biology and the American Anatomy Association.

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Weslene Tallmadge Gannon University

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Dr. Tallmadge is Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at Gannon University.

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Gannon University received an NSF ADVANCE-PAID award in 2011 to fund TRANSFORM, Teaching-Research-Advancement Network to Secure Female Faculty for Organizational Retention and Management. TRANSFORM initiatives aimed to increase the recruitment, retention, advancement, and leadership development of female faculty in STEM disciplines at a Master’s L institution by adapting strategies proven successful at research universities. The grant has been operationalized through three strategies: (1) Dual Career Services aiming to provide employment opportunities to accompanying partners via the creation of a consortium and a website; (2) Research Initiation Awards supporting advancement and tenure needs by providing release time and funds to early-career female STEM faculty; and (3) Leadership Developments increasing education opportunities in the areas of leadership for faculty and administrators.

Strategy 1, Dual Career Services, focused on the recruitment and retention of STEM female faculty through the creation of a Dual Career Services program. Due to the regional profile of the area, a website,, was established to serve not only the university but also local industry and other institutions as a regional professional job database, helping accompanying partners find suitable employment. To date, 287 jobs from 415 employers were advertised on this site. In 2015, Gannon University joined a regional Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC) to sustain offering dual-career couples regional employment opportunities after the end of the grant period.

Strategy 2, the Research Initiation Award, provided six credits of release time from teaching and a stipend for research activities every year for two years for each awardee. The strategy sought to support junior female faculty at a teaching institution which also has a strong scholarship requirement for tenure and promotion. Through the support of the grant, the retention rate and promotion of female faculty in STEM disciplines was increased. By the end of the grant, six awardees will have benefited from the grant. Metrics to measure the impact of this strategy are in place.

Strategy 3, Leadership Development, was to formalize professional development opportunities for faculty on the topic of leadership, previously not available at Gannon University. Using both internal experts and external consultants, workshops were planned for delivery in half-day segments throughout each academic year, culminating in a regional one-day-long seminar at the end of the academic year. Additionally, leadership development for department chairs and programs directors was planned to occur once each semester. Reactions to the workshops were generally positive, attendance has increased over the past four years, and sustained support of the workshops has been allocated by the administration.

Each strategy had its own challenges and successes, providing unique insight into the feasibility of converting a successful technique from a research institution into the structure of a PUI. For each strategy, the paper highlights the rationale for selecting the strategy, the objectives defined for realizing the strategy, the lessons learned from its implementation, and the culmination of the strategy in terms of sustainability and long-term influence upon the culture and climate of the university.

Vitolo, T. M., & Vernaza, K. M., & Lindley, L. D., & Konieczko, E. M., & Tallmadge, W. (2016, June), Making Changes: Application of an NSF-ADVANCE PAID Grant at a Predominantly Undergraduate Institution (PUI) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25658

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