Advance at UNM to continue work on faculty development and campus climate

By Steve Carr / UNM UCAM


What started out as an effort to increase the representation and advancement of women faculty in science and engineering departments campus wide through a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant has blossomed into sustainable change that has contributed to success of women and faculty from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM-related fields and beyond at the University of New Mexico.


The goal of the original NSF ADVANCE program was to increase the representation and advancement of women faculty in academic science and engineering careers, thereby contributing to the development of a more diverse science and engineering workforce. 


“ADVANCE at UNM is a critically important project, initially funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), that aims to foster the success and advancement of women faculty and faculty from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM at UNM,” said Barbara Rodriguez, senior vice provost, Academic Affairs. “The goal was to broaden the implementation of evidence-based systemic change strategies that promote equity for women faculty and faculty from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM.”


Now, the University of New Mexico Office of the Provost has announced plans to continue the highly successful ADVANCE at UNM program. ADVANCE at UNM has been transformative over the course of its existence. Because of the positive impact of the program, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway has agreed to continue the work of this program to support faculty success.


“Over the past several years, women faculty and faculty from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM at UNM have come to rely on the support from the ADVANCE team,” said Rodriguez. “Provost Holloway and I are delighted to support ADVANCE at UNM, and we believe doing so reinforces the University’s commitment to the vision, mission, and goals in outlined in UNM 2040 – Opportunity Defined.”


The ADVANCE team, led by Director Julia Fulghum, including co-PIs, staff, students, and social science research team, have come together with colleagues from across campus to broadly support faculty, with an emphasis on women STEM faculty. The leadership team focused its work on creating a more inclusive and supportive institutional climate, increasing the participation of women and minority STEM faculty in leadership positions, improving satisfaction with, and perceptions of, the tenure and promotion process among women and BIPOC STEM faculty, increasing the number of women and BIPOC faculty at all levels in STEM departments, and increasing the national and international recognition of scholarship by all women and BIPOC STEM faculty at UNM.


“We’re all thrilled that the provost and his team recognize the importance of our work and are providing the support that allows us to continue to help faculty across campus,” said Fulghum, who was reappointed ADVANCE director for five years. “Although we focus on obstacles faced by women STEM faculty in their career progression, at this point most members of the university community need extra support (faculty, staff, and students). The continuation of ADVANCE means we can support and advocate for diverse faculty in all fields and continue the survey and interview work necessary to make compelling suggestions to the academic leadership.”


The NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation program was designed to make universities more equitable and inclusive for women STEM faculty, including faculty in the Social Sciences. At UNM one of its most important roles has been to provide confidential advice on policies and processes and career development in individual meetings with faculty, chairs, deans, and other academic leaders.


“ADVANCE at UNM has offered a wide range of workshops, most of which have been open to all faculty,” said Fulghum. “We provide on-going workshops on every aspect of the promotion and tenure process, professional development support, including sessions focused on associate professors, and through a terrific collaboration with the Faculty Research Development Office have on-going Research Success workshops.”


“The collaborative foundation that we have built allowed ADVANCE to effectively advocate for faculty during the (still on-going) pandemic. For example, we issued several reports on the impact of the pandemic on faculty lives and have contributed to the institutional response to the pandemic.” 


Over the past five years, ADVANCE has participated in 100’s of meetings each year, included more than 700 posts to its website, published 166 videos and supported more than 50 women through its annual Women in STEM awards. Additionally, ADVANCE’s communications team has highlighted the work of faculty, kept the content-rich website current, and maintained its YouTube channel. The multimedia communication undergraduate internship program in 2020 was cited by the National Science Foundation as a national model for employing students and highlighting the work of women and minority STEM faculty. 


“ADVANCE at UNM will continue to provide confidential advice, workshops, and to advocate for policy and process changes in support of all faculty while highlighting issues of particular importance to women STEM faculty,” said Fulghum. “New initiatives will include expanding our collaboration with the OVPR, particularly the Faculty Research Development Office and the WeR1 Investing in Faculty Success initiatives.”