Cal Poly Joins National Alliance to Develop a More Inclusive, Diverse STEM Faculty

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly has joined Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty, a three-year institutional effort to develop inclusive faculty recruitment, hiring and retention practices. 

Cal Poly is one of 19 universities joining the alliance this year, bringing the total number of participating institutions to 54. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of its Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discovers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES)initiative.

Co-led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Aspire Alliance aims to use collaborative networks to help universities identify and implement the best practices to prepare, attract and retain underrepresented science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty. 

“We have quite a few faculty and staff members already working on increasing opportunities in STEM, and Cal Poly’s inclusion in this network is reaffirming their work and encouraging us to continue to do better,” said Camille O’Bryant, associate dean for Student Success, Welfare and Issues of Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Science and Mathematics. “By supporting these individuals in their work and opening opportunities for their colleagues to join them, we can continue the process of transforming our institution so that faculty, students and staff can grow and learn in an environment that is as inclusive and equitable as possible.”

Cal Poly’s participation in this initiative will be led by O’Bryant; Eric Mehiel, associate dean for Diversity and Student Success in the College of Engineering; and Jane Lehr, director of Cal Poly’s Office of Student Research and a professor of ethnic studies and women’s, gender and queer studies. 

After Cal Poly conducts a self-assessment of current practices and assets, it will develop and implement action plans to drive change and scale such efforts across all STEM programs.

“A key component of improving Cal Poly’s culture of diversity, equity and inclusion is ensuring that we recruit and retain a diverse community of faculty, staff and students,” said Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, Cal Poly’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “This is an exciting opportunity to build upon a successful faculty diversity hire initiative, as well as bolster Cal Poly’s commitment to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. We look forward to doing so in collaboration with partners across the nation.”

The Aspire Alliance is engaging Cal Poly and the rest of the new cohort of universities through its Institutional Change (IChange) Network. The network provides universities with comprehensive support and resources for institutional change, including access to national partners in a concierge-style approach to technical assistance.

“We face a critical shortfall of diversity in STEM fields nationally,” said Travis York, APLU’s assistant vice president, academic and student affairs, who is also co-leader of the IChange Network. “The institutions participating in the IChange Network are moving beyond statements into actions as they seek to enact inclusive organizational structures to increase diversity of their faculty and value the use of equity-minded practices by all faculty as we work to address a national challenge.”

Additional institutions in the new cohort are Appalachian State University; Grand Valley State University; Jackson State University; Lehigh University; Louisiana Tech University; Mississippi State University,; Pennsylvania State University; Stevens Institute of Technology; Temple University; The Ohio State University; UC Santa Barbara; University of Denver; University of Louisiana at Lafayette; University of Maryland, College Park; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; University of Pittsburgh; Utah State University and Virginia Tech.

About Cal Poly 
Founded in 1901 and part of the renowned California State University system since 1960, Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, four-year, comprehensive polytechnic public university located in San Luis Obispo, California. Known for its Learn by Doing approach, small class sizes, and open access to expert faculty, Cal Poly is a distinctive learning community whose more than 21,000 academically motivated students enjoy an unrivaled hands-on educational experience that prepares them to lead successful personal and professional lives. Visit

Contact: Keegan Koberl

October 29, 2020

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