Diversity Recruitment in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Education
The Office of Graduate Diversity and Inclusion's (OGDI) Christopher Perez and Interim Dean Jeffrey Franke attended a weekend event with the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT), a leading organization that prepares and advocates for underrepresented students intererested in graduate education. Founded in 1990, IRT and its consortium of 40 institutions, address the lack of diversity in the nation’s teaching faculties by recruiting outstanding students of color and other scholars committed to diversity, excellence, influence, empowerment and leadership.
The Graduate School and OGDI work closely with IRT to build a pipeline of strong scholars to Maryland's graduate programs. Internally, strong partnerships exist with directors of graduate studies and chairs in the humanities, social sciences and education. The collective will to work together has had remarkable results. This university has consistently ranked in the top two institutions for the past two years, in terms of the number of students enrolled in graduate programs. "The American Studies Department has had a long and successful history with IRT students. They are always among our most competitive applicants, and once in our program they stand out as some of our strongest students, who are highly qualified and prepared for the rigors of our Ph.D. program. We are eager and committed to working with the Graduate School to continue our relationship with this excellent and important program," says Dr. Christina Hanhardt, Director of Graduate Studies.
Each summer, IRT prepares a cohort of students for academic scholarship through a rigorous 4-week residential program. Once students identify their prospective schools/programs, the Graduate School and OGDI work closely with each student to ensure a seamless admissions and enrollment process. This includes advanced connection to faculty of interest and an introduction to existing support networks. "The early identification and recruitment of students, increases the likelihood of prospective students accepting our offer of admission. The IRT program has proven highly effective in bringing top-notch graduate students to study the humanities, all of whom have all been successful in our doctoral program," says Dr. Kellie Robertson, Director of Graduate Studies for the English Department.
Once students arrive to campus, the Graduate School continues to work with the IRT Cohort. "We have developed a year-long holistic program specifically for IRT students, which include professional and career development sessions that meet monthly. This programming creates a community among IRT scholars, facilitates peer-to-peer mentoring, networking with invited guests, and enhances the success for our IRT students," said Associate Director Christopher Perez. Students participate in structured programming that addresses each stage of their scholarly path. "Beyond recruitment, I applaud the University of Maryland's diversity initiatives focused on cohort development, high model of mentorship, networking, and other professionalization opportunities which all serve to support IRT fellows as they navigate the doctoral experience and generate a community focused on scholarship and activism," says Dr. Asabe W. Poloma, Executive Director of IRT.