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New Faculty Learning Community as Retention Tool for Underrepresented Minorities

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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

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 5

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Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Anne-Marie A Lerner University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Anne-Marie Lerner is an associate professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville. Her professional interests include inclusive in-class and out-of-class supports, investigating effective teaching pedagogy for remote delivery as well as to nontraditional students, and education assessment. She received her PhD in mechanical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008.

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Christopher Frayer University of Wisconsin - Platteville

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The University of Wisconsin – Platteville College of Engineering, Math and Science created a New Faculty Learning Center (NFLC) in Fall, 2014. Objectives of the NFLC include: providing just-in-time university and college orientation, building a support system for new faculty and staff, assisting faculty and academic staff with acclimation to life in rural Wisconsin, and promoting retention of women and underrepresented minority students. All new faculty and academic staff in the college are invited and encouraged to participate in this voluntary community. The dean of the college extends a personal invitation to each participant, department chairs support this effort by reinforcing the message and arranging faculty teaching schedules to not conflict during the meeting times, and the NFLC activities are selected to directly benefit the participants’ careers at UW-Platteville. Participants are encouraged to apply for internal start-up grants supporting retention of women and underrepresented minorities, which exposes them to issues surrounding women in engineering. The NFLC programming is developed in coordination with the College’s Women in Engineering program. This intentional approach prepares new faculty to become allies in the retention effort. Work/life balance issues are discussed throughout the year, and several activities involve the families of the new faculty and staff, including a community parade and a dinner reception hosted by local business leaders. This paper discusses the logistics of building such a community, and best practices that have made it successful on the UW-Platteville campus. Factors contributing to success include: gaining buy-in from key campus administrators, using mid-level faculty as NFLC coordinators, funding course release/overload compensation for each faculty coordinator, having campus administrators regularly reaffirm the benefits of participating in the NFLC, and implementing changes based upon participant feedback.

Lerner, A. A., & Frayer, C. (2017, June), New Faculty Learning Community as Retention Tool for Underrepresented Minorities Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28703

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