The EMPOWER program reflects a multi-leveled collaboration between faculty, administrators, and leadership at the University of Maine. The seeds of the project lay in productive discussions across the year 2020 between the Vice President for Research, the Provost, College Deans, and members of the Faculty Senate Research and Scholarship Committee. Recognizing a gap in faculty mentoring culture at UMaine that emerged in the winding down of the Rising Tide Center (originally funded by an NSF ADVANCE grant), these parties articulated a vision for a mentoring and research support program.
The goal for this program is clear: help faculty, especially faculty identifying as members of historically underrepresented groups, thrive at the University of Maine.
The EMPOWER program, as launched in early 2021, is modeled directly on a successful program bearing the same name with a decade-long history at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). One of the architects of that program, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Development Etta Ward, was involved in early discussions with the UMaine team spearheading the effort. A former colleague of Vice President Varahramyan, she generously shared IUPUI’s experiences and provided a framework for UMaine’s program. She spoke at the inaugural meeting of supported mentoring pairs and further facilitated a mentoring workshop delivered to the first two EMPOWER cohorts in the spring of 2022.