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Current Research Projects

Members of the ADVANCE team conduct research that inform our programs and activities. This is an overview of current projects:

The Differential Impacts of COVID-19 on Scholars at Texas A&M

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous disruptions and challenges for university faculty, including the transition to new teaching modalities, restrictions on conference and research travel, limited access to research facilities, delays for equipment and supplies, and delays with manuscript reviews. In addition to disruptions at work, the pandemic has also required many faculty to take on additional caregiving responsibilities at home. Numerous studies and reports acknowledge that the pandemic has had (and continues to have) wide-ranging impacts and disruptions on faculty (and future faculty who are currently in postdoctoral positions and PhD programs), and that these impacts are likely to widen existing equity gaps. Similar to other studies, the Texas A&M study finds that the pandemic is having differential impacts on faculty for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to discipline, job responsibilities, faculty rank, and care-giver status. Further, the pandemic has the potential to exacerbate existing inequalities that affect women faculty and faculty of color (Kramer 2020; Kyaw 2020; Langin 2021; Minello 2020; NASEM 2021; Viglione 2020).
The pandemic presents new equity challenges when it comes to the review of promotion and tenure cases, and the review of job applicants. A number of reports have provided specific actions that universities can take to address these equity concerns (Clark et al. 2020; Gonzalez and Griffin 2020; Htun 2020; Malisch et al. 2020; Mickey and Misra 2020; Oleschuk 2020). Texas A&M University has already taken a number of steps to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on faculty evaluations, such as providing the option for faculty to exclude 2020 course evaluations from faculty evaluations and the option for tenure-track faculty to receive a clock extension.  Individual departments and colleges have also taken steps to provide resources to faculty impacted by the pandemic, and to ensure a fair and equitable review process.  ADVANCE has developed guidelines for writing and evaluating COVID-19 impact statements.  ADVANCE has also incorporated case studies involving COVID-19 into workshops for search committee members (STRIDE) and promotion and tenure committee members (STRIPE).

For more information about this project, see the project page.

Fairness and bias in promotion and tenure

Promotion and tenure processes in higher education are critical to the integrity of America's science enterprise. They determine which faculty members continue their careers and whose career aspirations come to a screeching halt by a tenure denial. At the core of the system is the notion that the most talented and deserving candidates get promoted. This project challenges that basic assumption by shedding new light on what drives promotion and tenure outcomes in academic environments.  Women and underrepresented minorities are disproportionately less likely to be tenured and promoted. The ultimate goal of this project is to uncover ways to minimize bias and increase representation of faculty from diverse backgrounds by creating training programs.  This project will inform the STRIPE workshops that are now underway at Texas A&M.

Texas A&M is one of nine partner instituions. The other institutions are Hampton University, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, University of Alabama, Louisiana State University, Lehigh University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Rice University.

This project is funded by a $2 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation and a $177,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The PI for the project is Christiane Spitzmuller at the University of Houston.  Dr. Cynthia Werner is the Site PI for Texas A&M University.

For more information about this project, see the project page.

Climate and Faculty Retention Project

Recruiting faculty from underrepresented groups is the first step.  Retaining them is equally important. This research project looks at the role that departments, colleges and the university as a whole play in the retention of faculty from underrepresented groups (especially women and faculty of color). The study will start by looking at retention data to see whether faculty from underrepresented groups are leaving Texas A&M at disproportionate rates compared to other faculty.  Then, the study will use a variety of approaches to look at how individual faculty experiences vary, and the extent to which climate influnces decisions to stay (or leave).


Impact of STRIDE Workshops on Faculty Hiring Outcomes

STRIDE workshops are designed to provide participants with strategies to maximize the likelihood that well-qualified candidates from underrepresented groups will be identified and recruited for faculty positions at Texas A&M University.  The purpose of this study is to look at the extent to which the recommendations from the workshops are employed in individual faculty searches, and to see how the outcomes vary based on the extent to which recommendations are applied.