Center for the Advancement of STEM Leadership

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Lori Kletzer, Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

I am very pleased to announce the establishment of the Center for the Advancement of STEM Leadership, effective July 1, 2022. Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, will be the faculty director of the center. The center’s organizational home will be the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences (PBSci). 

The center will be dedicated to establishing workplaces and learning environments that reflect our equity-forward values and allow the full human diversity of our nation and the world to meaningfully contribute to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Working together through partnerships with the PBSci division and Baskin School of Engineering, the center’s efforts will re-imagine leadership development and practice on campus to benefit from the multimodal expertise of our full community; it will leverage funding and institutional capital to recognize, motivate, and mentor faculty in removing barriers to education and training in order to ensure equitable access to knowledge and full participation in the modernizing practices of STEM at all career stages. 

The center will work on: (i) developing leadership pipelines that include both training in the practice of equity-forward values and opportunities for early career leadership; (ii) recommending changes to selection processes to require evidence of ability to lead diverse teams through demonstrated practice of equity-forward values; (iii) building programs that promote and support the recruiting, hiring and development of scientists capable of supporting underrepresented students and trainees. Another essential goal of the center is to motivate and support individual faculty to create healthy workplaces and learning spaces, by helping them demonstrate knowledge of evidence-based mentoring practices and providing effective resources for mentees as well as reporting and assessment of mentoring built into funding proposals. The center will (i) ensure that career development of mentees is a focus of funded programs; (ii) encourage STEM members to work in teams on an equity-forward, values-based framework to support junior researchers; (iii) build mentor networks for trainees and provide other channels for information; (iv) provide support and professional development for both mentors and mentees; (v) encourage establishment of support and accountability for effective mentoring at the institution and within grant structures; and (vi) collect survey and demographic data and outcomes to assess programs.

Specifically, the center’s initial programmatic focus will be supporting early career faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars at UCSC with a particular focus on women and individuals from historically marginalized identities in STEM. The program for early career faculty will be geared to provide support for proposal preparation, starting and developing research groups, paper writing and mentoring. A central focus will be the development of support for early career proposals and National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs in close collaboration with the Office of Research. Building on the work of the science division’s DEI Committee, the center will document (i) efforts by STEM faculty to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)on campus to provide a comprehensive picture of current programs and the experiences of those doing the DEI work and track funding and associated workload; and (ii) the barriers that hinder women and individuals from historically marginalized identities in STEM from advancing to positions of leadership and influence. 

The center has secured funding to launch its initial work from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Sloan Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation and the National Science Foundation and will leverage the mentoring training infrastructure and expertise of the Lamat Institute at UCSC to advance its goals. 

As a campus, we will soon embark on a strategic planning effort that will support and guide significant faculty growth and diversity, together with advancing research excellence and strengthening an inclusive campus culture. Equity-focused faculty development and furthering research excellence through inclusive excellence are campuswide priorities across all divisions and disciplines. The Center for the Advancement of STEM Leadership is an important partner in these efforts moving forward.