On Friday, May 13, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville celebrated the conclusion of the second year of the Research Development Academy (RDA). The RDA was created to support tenure-track faculty from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, who have the potential to contribute to UT’s discovery mission and advance the university’s values of diversity and inclusion.
“The faculty who have just completed the Research Development Academy are among the best and brightest faculty on campus,” said Diane Kelly, vice provost for faculty affairs. “We want to make sure we do everything we can to help them succeed and to develop a sense of community and belonging at the university, especially given the conditions of the past few years.”
This initiative seeks to support diverse tenure-track faculty in advancing their own scholarly agenda in research, scholarship, and/or creative activities in a collaborative environment with supportive guidance. The RDA provides a positive environment for faculty to network with each other and access resources they need to move their research agenda forward in a focused way.
“The RDA empowers faculty to develop a robust research agenda that is informed by rigorous and novel approaches, mixed methodology, and innovation while strengthening connections, capacity, and collegiality,” noted Javiette Samuel, associate vice chancellor in the Division of Diversity and Engagement. “This year, RDA participants had the opportunity to also take part in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity Faculty Success Program, which further reinforced the curriculum that we implemented and will further enhance our emerging faculty’s scholarship, and personal and professional development.”
The closing ceremony, hosted at UT’s Student Union, included participating faculty from both the 2020 and 2021 cohorts. The evening began with brief Pecha Kucha-style presentations by participants from both years, representing nine different colleges, UT Institute of Agriculture, and UT Libraries. At the conclusion of the event, each participant received an award from Provost John Zomchick.
Providing this support to UT’s early career research faculty is critical to the University’s growth as an R1 research university. R1 research universities represent the highest level of research activity. AT UT, thousands of world-class faculty, staff, students, and partners conduct research, scholarship, and creative work at the forefront of knowledge, unlocking solutions to complex global challenges.
“From a research and innovation perspective, the RDA provides two critical functions,” explained Brad Day, associate vice chancellor for research and innovation initiatives. “It fosters the sharing of ideas amongst UT’s early career faculty, which can lead to the development of multi-disciplinary teams, collaborating on complex global challenges. And it also provides a foundation for developing the next generation of researchers that will provide leadership, both at the University and around the world. Being relatively new to UT, I found the level of engagement of these scholars, as well as their eagerness to help shape, transform, and elevate UT to be the most refreshing part of my time here in Knoxville.”
The RDA is a collaboration between the Office of the Provost, Division of Diversity and Engagement, and the Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development. RDA Fellows come from across the university and have a wide range of interests and goals. To learn more about eligibility and application requirements, visit the Research Development Academy website.