Vanderbilt Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver has joined her peers at institutions within the Southeastern Conference to establish the SEC Emerging Scholars Program for doctoral and postdoctoral students. The program serves as a pathway and source of mentorship for historically underrepresented graduate students across the SEC to prepare for tenured faculty positions in higher education.
“Creating a rich and engaging environment where faculty and students can thrive is of the utmost importance to us,” Raver said. “An essential part of our success is collaboration, and this program will propel Vanderbilt forward, creating new opportunities for our students and postdoctoral scholars.”
Beginning in the fall of 2022, each SEC university aims to commit $235,000 per year to support no fewer than five scholars, with two doctoral fellows earning $35,000 awards and three postdoctoral fellows earning $50,000 awards. This funding is projected to continue for five years, totaling $16.45 million.
That amount also will cover funding for an SEC Networking and Career Fair for scholars, travel to discipline-related conferences and other research support.
“This innovative program represents a way to support students on the pathway to faculty positions in SEC schools. Central to the success of this program is the enhanced mentorship the SEC scholars receive as they prepare for the academic job search,” said Vice Provost André Christie-Mizell, who administers this program for Vanderbilt.
In fall 2021, Louisiana State University hosted a pilot SEC Emerging Scholar Program’s networking and career fair. A cohort of Vanderbilt graduate students participated virtually in this event, where they were featured in sessions and presentations by faculty and in professional development sessions.
Among the Vanderbilt cohort were Yvonne Chen, Alberto J. Lopez, Ph.D., Joanna Huh, Leonard Curry, STM, Megan L. Jordan, Ph.D., Darwin Baluran, Petra Brunj and Mariah Deans Harmon.
“The SEC Emerging Scholars Workshop was a wonderful opportunity to speak candidly about EDI issues, initiatives and priorities in the SEC with other scholars of color in a diverse array of disciplines,” Huh said. “We were given ample space to speak frankly with faculty and administration about the particular challenges that stem from being scholars of color in academia, how to forge a sense of community in particular places and institutions and how to achieve tenure while still holding onto an authentic sense of self.”
Other participating schools include Louisiana State University, University of Missouri, University of Arkansas, University of Georgia, Auburn University, University of South Carolina, Texas A&M University, University of Mississippi, University of Kentucky, University of Alabama, University of Florida, Mississippi State University and University of Tennessee.