Preparing Critical Faculty for the Future (PCFF)

Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP), the goals of the PCFF project are to:

  • provide professional and leadership development for women of color faculty in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), or in NSF natural and behavioral science disciplines; and
  • improve undergraduate STEM education at HBCUs and beyond.

Women of color faculty in STEM disciplines at HBCUs are the critical focus of PCFF. Preparing these faculty members for the future is critical because enrollment at HBCUs typically consists of approximately 70% women and because HBCUs confer nearly 25% of all baccalaureate degrees earned by African Americans. HBCUs are among the nation’s leading institutions in producing graduates who go on to obtain PhD degrees. By uncovering useful strategies for preparing women faculty of color for academic leadership in STEM fields, PCFF expects to improve STEM education broadly as well as at HBCUs.

The program consists of:

  • The initial Preparing Critical Faculty for the Future (PCFF);
  • And the next phase Preparing Critical Faculty for the Future2 (PCFF2).

Program Goals

The goals of the project are to:

  • provide professional and leadership development for women of color faculty in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), or NSF natural and behavioral science disciplinary program areas; and
  • improve undergraduate STEM education at your institution and beyond.

The project seeks to achieve its goals through a yearlong series of activities designed to hone participants’ leadership skills and abilities, and assist them in introducing cutting-edge teaching techniques into their classroom and laboratory practice. Our strategies include offering participants financial support to engage in two national events: 1) a three-day conference focused on undergraduate STEM education that also incorporates a PCFF pre-and post conference symposium and workshop; and 2) a five-day summer institute. Both events will include national experts in academic leadership and effective undergraduate STEM education and practice. Throughout the year, PCFF staff will keep participants connected to each other and to national experts though a variety of social networks and online activities.

These professional and leadership development activities have three mutually reinforcing components: 1) to introduce academic professionals to topics designed to advance the twenty-first century curricular frameworks and teaching methodologies needed to increase the number of underserved students who may ultimately complete degrees in STEM fields; 2) to build faculty capacity to address the varied skills and abilities of the twenty-first century learner; and 3) to provide a leadership development path for women faculty of color at HBCUs, where women play a smaller leadership role in the STEM disciplines than at majority institutions.

PCFF will be implemented in two phases over an institution’s one year participation. Phase One will engage two women of color faculty in STEM disciplines from your institution in the symposium, workshop and conference— Next Generation STEM Learning: Investigate, Innovate, Inspire—to be held in Kansas City, Missouri (Thursday – Saturday, November 8-10, 2012). Participants will continue networking with each other and the national experts after this national event to prepare for Phase Two of the project.

In Phase Two, a five-person institutional team will attend AAC&U’s Institute on Integrative Learning and the Departments in Portland, Oregon (Wednesday - Sunday, July 10 – 14, 2013). Institutions will identify in the PCFF application process, a five-person team to attend this summer institute. In addition to the two women of color faculty participants from Phase One, the team attending the summer institute should include two additional faculty from various NSF STEM disciplinary program areas and at least one dean/provost level senior administrator.

Participants from both phases will be eligible to join in the online activities of the national network established through this project. This network is expected to expand to at least 40 institutions and 200 individuals through the addition of a new cohort of participants in each subsequent year over the three years of NSF funding.

A focus of all the project activities will be on the needs and issues particularly attendant to women faculty and administrators of color, and the growing number of historically underrepresented women and men students that will increasingly populate the college and university classrooms of the future. Given the focus of the project, we would prefer that the additional participants in Phase Two be women of color STEM faculty and senior administrators. However, we also recognize that this may not be possible at some HBCUs. The strongest considerations are given to applications that address all aspects of the project’s goals and objectives.