Future Professors learn academia’s unwritten rules

Barbara Knuth and Christine Ortiz

Keynote speaker Christine Ortiz, M.S. ’95, Ph.D. ’97, right, chats with Barbara Knuth, dean of Cornell Graduate School

July 6, 2016

Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars gathered in Stocking Hall recently to learn about a topic that’s strikingly absent at most universities: how to become a professor.

Cornell’s first Future Professors Institute on June 28 guided 77 participants, many of whom identify as underrepresented minorities, on the path to a career in the academy.

The volume of underrepresented minorities in the academic pipeline is increasing but remains only a trickle. Among full-time professors nationwide in 2013, just 9 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander, 4 percent were African-American and 3 percent were Hispanic, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“We need to expose students to what a faculty pathway might look like and how to prepare for it,” said Sara Xayarath Hernández, associate dean for inclusion and student engagement in the Graduate School.

“The Future Professors Institute is an important partnership with alumni and faculty at Cornell and other institutions to advance our collective efforts to broaden diversity in the academy. It achieves this goal by exposing participants to what it means to be a successful faculty member, along with strategies to cultivate research and teaching opportunities, and the nuances of the faculty work environment,” said Barbara A. Knuth, senior vice provost and dean of the Graduate School.

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