UMaine joins national effort to improve recruitment and retention of STEM faculty from all backgrounds

The University of Maine announced today that through a competitive process, it has been selected to join the National Aspire Institutional Change Network (IChange Network), a nationwide coalition of colleges and universities striving to improve how they recruit, support and retain STEM faculty members from all different backgrounds. 

As a member of the IChange Network, UMaine can access experts, peers, conferences and tools that will help it attract STEM faculty from diverse and historically underrepresented backgrounds and promote their professional success. With assistance and collaboration from the network, UMaine will evaluate and improve its recruitment and retention strategies, professional development opportunities, hiring practices, onboarding, campus culture and climate.  

The IChange Network is an initiative from the Association of Public Land Grant Universities (APLU) supported by the National Science Foundation. It recently welcomed UMaine and seven other institutions as members. 

UMaine is thrilled to join this nationwide effort to improve the recruitment and retention of STEM faculty from diverse backgrounds,” says John Volin, executive vice president of academic affairs and provost. “Our engagement with the Aspire IChange Network underscores UMaine’s commitment to inclusive excellence in STEM. It’s not just a network; it will help provide for faculty support, a catalyst for recruitment, and a cornerstone of our commitment to retention, which all supports UMaine’s focus on creating a more inclusive academic environment.”

With assistance from the network, university officials will begin by conducting a self-assessment of its current practices. Once this self-assessment has been completed, UMaine will be able to collaborate with APLU experts and peers to create an action plan designed to enhance faculty recruitment, retention and support.

Creating this plan will require the university to create a task force that develops the plan, executes its strategies and attends network meetings and conferences. These interactions will allow the participants to share new ideas and methods that support the recruitment and retention of STEM faculty. 

The task force will include Deb Allen, assistant provost for institutional research and assessment; Megan Walsh, dean and campus director for the University of Maine at Machias; Hannah Carter; associate provost for online and continuing education and dean of University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Scott Marzilli, associate provost for student success and innovation; and other members who will be selected by the Office of the Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost.

This is the ideal moment for UMaine to join the IChange Network. Our participation dovetails with, and reinforces, a range of mentorship and faculty development programs that have been launched this year,” says Gabriel Paquette, associate provost for academic affairs and faculty development.Not only will we keep abreast of exciting trends in higher education, but the IChange opportunity will position us to be a regional and national leader in this critical arena.”