National Science Foundation Awards Cal Poly Pomona $3.3 million

The National Science Foundation has awarded Cal Poly Pomona a $3.3 million grant that will enable the university to strengthen its ability to recruit talented and diverse faculty in its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs.  

Cal Poly Pomona is among only 12 institutions in the country selected for one of the ADVANCE: Institutional Transformation Awards. The university will join a network of prestigious universities across the nation (including Cornell, Brown and Duke) to develop ways to build the strength of its educational programs in technology.   

Under the direction of Barbara Hacker, associate dean of the College of Engineering, the grant will help launch a program titled “The Path to Leadership: Collaborative Institutional Change.” This five-year effort will create recruitment, retention and professional development programs to help diverse faculty, including women, in STEM disciplines to advance to leadership positions.  

“We need to find new ways to give faculty the support they need to advance professionally,” Hacker says.

She further notes that the grant provides an exceptional opportunity to make a difference at Cal Poly Pomona, helping to recruit strong faculty, support the development of their careers and prepare them to be national leaders in STEM education.  

The ADVANCE grant was planned by a task force comprised of faculty and administrators from science, engineering, psychology and sociology. In January 2004, the task force conducted focus groups to identify the needs of faculty in their career development.

“What makes this project so exciting and promising is that it really has the potential to make a difference since our grant activities directly address needs that were identified by the faculty,” Hacker says.  

For example, the grant will support activities to improve recruitment and search processes, develop partnerships with other universities as a way to develop future faculty, create a local employer network to assist finding spouses of new hires appropriate employment, provide leadership development opportunities for faculty as ADVANCE scholars, facilitate professional learning communities for faculty, provide resources to promote research and create a mentoring program for faculty exploring multiple paths to leadership.

“Cal Poly Pomona has been successful at attracting excellent science and math faculty,” says Donald Straney, dean of the College of Science. “With the ADVANCE award, we will ensure the people we hire can achieve their full potential and create for our students a world-class learning environment.”   

Given the National Science Foundation's expectation that universities consider changes to institutional policies and practices as a result of this work, key administrators joined the faculty task force and were involved in the project from its inception. These administrators will continue to play a key role in the implementation of the activities.  

“Cal Poly Pomona already has an outstanding community of STEM faculty and the new grant will help us to retain these faculty and provide them with professional development opportunities that prepare them to serve as role models and leaders in the STEM disciplines,” Provost Tomas Morales says. “I also believe that as a result of the activities of this grant, we will be in an even stronger position to attract exceptional faculty.”