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UMBC faculty diversity initiative featured in national radio program

On Feb, 9, a spotlight shone on one of UMBC’s faculty diversity initiatives, the Postdoctoral Fellowship for Faculty Diversity.

“Developed by the Executive Committee on the recruitment, retention, and advancement of underrepresented minority faculty, and first launched in 2011, the UMBC Postdoctoral Fellowship for Faculty Diversity is a two year fellowship that supports and prepares promising scholars who are committed to diversity in the academy for possible tenure-track appointments at UMBC,” said Autumn Reed, program coordinator for faculty diversity initiatives.

On Feb. 9, Keisha Allen, a member of the 2015-2017 cohort, was featured on American Public Media’s Marketplace, a well-known radio program that focuses on economy and business.

Allen’s faculty mentors, Claudia Galindo, associate professor of language, literacy, and culture, and Mavis Sanders, professor of education, support and guide her through her research which “focuses on issues of race, culture and identity influence teaching and learning for youth of color.”

In the APM program, “Building a More Diverse Faculty,” Allen prepares to present before the entirety of UMBC’s education department with Sanders coaching her mere minutes before her brief presentation.

“It was a birds-eye view of the work that I do and the writing projects I engaged in during the fall semester,” said Allen of her presentation.

Allen continued, “The major thread running through my work is the idea that racial narratives running through public discourse show up in schools, so we must be mindful of the ways in which the educational opportunities of youth of color are supported and/or constrained by the ways in which these narratives show up in teacher practice and curricula.”

Allen’s work co-aligns with Faculty Diversity Initiatives. However, her research isn’t just meant to further UMBC faculty diversity, but diversity among all scholarly communities.

“Unlike other fellowships, UMBC’s program provides each fellow with access to opportunities for professional development offered by our Faculty Development Center and Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. Our goal is to create a rich and inclusive experience that enables fellows to build interdisciplinary relationships and networks at UMBC and within their larger scholarly community,” said Reed of the Faculty Diversity Initiatives.

However, Allen is not the only cohort in the program. One of her fellow cohorts, Mejdulene Shomali, gender and woman’s studies, researches “the representation of femininity and sexuality in Arab and Arab American literature, art and film.”

Nkiru Nnawulezi, psychology, “[explores] how social identity and culture influence black women survivors’ disclosure and help-seeking practices, as well as determining ways to improve how formal support systems and communities respond to survivors.”

UMBC has a long-standing history of confronting and attempting to solve the national issue of lack of faculty diversity. UMBC initiatives such as ADVANCE, the Emerging Scholars Program and STRIDE are just a few of the many programs meant to improve faculty diversity on campus.

Although Allen’s research is making strides in her field, the accomplishment is not for herself. She hopes to use her research so faculty diversity is no longer an idea, but a necessity.

Allan said, “Being an academic of color, at least for me, isn’t about individual accomplishment, it’s about how I can leverage my opportunities, talents and skills to be an advocate for equity.”