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Research Development Academy Fosters Diversity

Applications for UT’s Research Development Academy (RDA), a new program launched by the Office of Equity and Diversity and Office of Research and Engagement, are due by noon on November 13, 2019.

The RDA empowers faculty from diverse backgrounds to advance their research, scholarship, and creative activities, while providing unique resources and a safe environment to network.

“This opportunity is highly responsive to feedback we’ve received from faculty. It’s designed to help faculty synthesize advice and turn that into action.” said Kimberly Eck, assistant vice chancellor of research development. “With a broad interpretation of the term ‘underrepresented,’ the program is for anyone who needs additional guidance in growing a program of scholarship successfully,” Eck says, noting that such a program that focuses on the intersection of research, diversity, and early career is unique in academia.

ORE’s Research Development team hopes to engage faculty who self-identify as underrepresented by virtue of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or other factors, and who have the potential to contribute to the university’s discovery mission. The RDA has the potential to improve faculty retention rates by providing support to further their research agenda (including scholarship and creative activity) in ways that align with promotion and tenure guidelines.

Studies have shown that faculty from underrepresented backgrounds are more likely than their peers to leave universities before reaching tenure. While such career decisions are extremely complex, additional support for research, scholarship, and creative activity can help retain diverse faculty. This program draws on best practices from related programs.

The RDA, a one-year program commencing in January 2020, will provide sessions, one-on-one coaching sessions with Eck, discussions with department heads, support from research development staff, and internal funding to pursue a research development activity or small project.

“This is further evidence of UT’s commitment to support diverse faculty and diverse thinking, approaches, and perspectives. This should bring about more robust discussions internally and more robust solutions to problems faced by our nation,” Eck notes. “By bringing two offices together, UT administration is ‘all in’ to support our faculty.”

All tenure-track faculty  are eligible if, at the time of application, they have at least two full years of tenure-track service at an institution of higher education; are pre-tenure and have not yet submitted a tenure dossier; and self-identify as underrepresented by virtue of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or other factors.

Applications should be submitted via the InfoReady application portal, and must include the following: scholarship statement, statement of interest, curriculum vitae, and one letter of support from a department head, dean, associate dean for research, supervisor, or other administrator. For more information, please email questions to AVCRD@utk.edu.