NSF Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Challenge

NSF Taking Action Challenge

IUPUI’s commitment to educating, recruiting and retaining diverse faculty — particularly in STEM fields — resulted in IU Indianapolis being placed first in the STEM faculty category for the Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Challenge issued by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The contest challenged universities to provide examples of programs and/or initiatives that led or are leading to systemic solutions to mitigating long-term impacts from the pandemic on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in STEM. The competition was broken down into four STEM categories of focus: undergraduate in a two-year institution, undergraduate in a four-year institution, graduate and professional students, and faculty.

IU Indianapolis was awarded a $25,000 cash prize for the contest. In fall 2022, we solicited suggestions from the IU Indianapolis community on how to make use of it. The suggestions resulted in the launch of the EPIC Taking Action Challenge Grants.

Apply for an EPIC Taking Action Challenge Grant

The collaborative work highlighted in our NSF contest entry really showcased IU Indianapolis’s concentrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion among our own faculty and within higher education as a whole.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Kathy E. Johnson

IU Indianapolis Submission Summary

In the award summary, the NSF highlighted IU Indianapolis’s adoption of the integrative DEI path to promotion and tenure in 2021. IU Indianapolis’s entry focused on STEM faculty and the practice and policies implemented to support women and faculty of color to negate the anticipated long-term negative impact of the pandemic.

The changes were informed by the research and recommendations created by the IU Indianapolis action committee in the summer of 2020 to identify where systemic racism is translated into higher education’s daily practices, expectations and procedures that unfairly target populations of color. Practice changes included an extension on the tenure clock, the removal of teaching evaluations completed by students from use in merit reviews and faculty evaluations, and language changes in promotion and tenure review letters to emphasize quality over quantity of scholarly products.

Other NSF-supported initiatives mentioned in the contest entry included:

  • Project EPIC, IU Indianapolis’s ADVANCE grant focused on more effectively recruiting, retaining and advancing women, particularly women of color, in higher education. Emphasis is placed on improving climate in STEM departments.
  • The IChange Network. This initiative of the Aspire Alliance is focused on developing diverse STEM faculty across the country.
  • The COVID CV app developed by IU Indianapolis faculty with support from the IU Office of the Vice President for Research and the IU Indianapolis Arts and Humanities Institute.

View Summarized Application Showcase

View Full IU Indianapolis Application