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Calif. schools ally to boost graduate, faculty diversity

By Janet Nguyen

Feb. 14, 2014 1:19 a.m.

UCLA and three other California universities have teamed up to bolster the ethnic diversity of graduate student and faculty populations within science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

University officials announced Thursday that the new consortium, called the California Alliance for Graduate Education and Professoriate, will be made up of UCLA, UC Berkeley, Stanford University and Caltech.

With a $2.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the group will work to ensure that graduate and postdoctoral students of ethnic minorities are on track to finish their programs and encourage them to pursue faculty positions, said Carlos Grijalva, associate dean of the UCLA Graduate Division.

Grijalva said the four universities decided to establish the alliance because racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented at the faculty level.

“Minority faculty members can start changing the culture of their programs to make those places become more welcoming for the next generation of graduate students,” Grijalva said.

Across the UC, officials have recently focused on efforts to encourage graduate student and faculty diversity. Last fall, UC President Janet Napolitano announced she would allocate $10 million for graduate student recruitment and a postdoctoral fellowship program geared toward minority scholars.

About 15 percent of new UCLA faculty appointments for the 2007-2011 school years were of African American, Hispanic or Native American descent, according to data from UCLA Diversity and Faculty Development.

UCLA is a partner institution to Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate dedicated to helping graduate students from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds obtain postdoctoral and faculty positions.

The alliance will host a retreat from April 4 to 5 at Stanford University that will allow graduate and postdoctoral students to network with faculty members. The retreat will include workshops on how to effectively use social media and write grant proposals.

Grijalva said the organization plans to host other retreats and workshops to help ethnic minority graduate and postdoctoral students build the professional skills they need to be successful in academia.

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