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NASH Helps Secure $10 Million in NSF Grant Funding to Create Diverse Pipeline of STEM Faculty

August 18, 2022

University System of Maryland and the University of California will lead the way in developing new practices to recruit, train, and place diverse faculty across the country

For Immediate Release: August 16, 2022

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of System Heads (NASH) today announced their participation in a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to aid in expanding opportunities to diversify faculty in higher education.

The grant will help fund a new program called RISE UPP (Re-Imagining STEM Equity with Underrepresented-Minorities in Postdoc Pathways) through the NSF INCLUDES Alliance. The program leverages the successes of two state university systems that have developed and implemented inter-institutional approaches to diversify faculty through postdoctoral recruitment, training, and “conversion” into faculty positions. These include the University System of Maryland’s (USM) NSF AGEP PROMISE Academy and the University of California (UC) President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Both USM and UC are members of NASH.

“NASH is thrilled to be a part of the RISE UPP Alliance to help close inequities across the faculty at so many institutions of higher education,” said Rebecca Martin, executive director of NASH. “This effort builds on our longstanding commitment to equity, and embodies the foundational concepts of NASH’s Equity Action Framework. Working in collaboration with systems to scale next practices is what we have done for nearly a decade, and together with this new Alliance we will build tools to help other systems implement what works. RISE UPP has real potential to reduce barriers to broader implementation and make a difference for students across the country.”

NASH, in conjunction with the RISE UPP Alliance and partner university systems, will be working together to bring diversity and equity to our public higher education systems. Anticipated to launch in the fall of 2022, the RISE UPP Alliance is a partnership of 24 universities and their five state university system offices: USM, UC, the Texas A&M University System, the University of Texas System, and the University of North Carolina System. The USM and UC systems, serving as the Core Model Partners, are poised to share instructive models for two distinct approaches to postdoctoral recruitment and conversion into tenure-track positions.

The RISE UPP Alliance acknowledges that achieving lasting faculty diversity requires much more than scholar preparation. The Alliance will simultaneously work with university systems and their participating institutions and departments to make cultures and structures more inclusive, helping these systems to adopt more policies and practices that follow the mission of the Alliance.

Together, the Alliance and university systems will create opportunities for Fellows to explore institutions and pathways within a university system to retain underrepresented minority postdoctoral scholars and set faculty on tenure track. RISE UPP will work to provide support to mentors in establishing expectations, giving feedback, compensating their time, and supplying a service letter to the mentor’s department chair and dean. At the same time, they will work with departments, institutions, and systems to adopt policies that reflect a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“The support services NASH will provide in carrying out this NSF grant represent a major effort as part of our Power of Systems initiative,” said Nancy Zimpher, director of NASH’s Power of Systems and chancellor emeritus of The State University of New York. “We are fully committed to the work of our Equity Imperative – to empower all students through the dismantling of structural and systemic barriers to improve upward social mobility. Ensuring students see faculty in fields like STEM that understand their diverse backgrounds is a critical step.”

NASH members systems and higher education system leaders have come together around their new coast-to-coast initiative: the Power of Systems. With it, a network of systems is being created, working collaboratively in improvement cycles to deliver impact for student success at scale, with particular emphasis on the redress of inequities and the promotion of economic and social mobility for all.

About the National Association of System Heads
Founded in 1979, the National Association of System Heads (NASH) represents chief executives of the 65 public higher education systems in the United States. Member institutions work collaboratively to advance innovation and change in public systems of colleges and universities. To learn more about NASH and its national initiative, the Power of Systems, visit


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David Belsky


Equity Action Framework