Making positive change: ADVANCE-IT program continues

ITC facilitators program is producing change agents to promote diversity and inclusion across VCU.

Headshots of Jose Alcaine, Ph.D., and Maike Philipsen, Ph.D.
Jose Alcaine, Ph.D., and Maike Philipsen, Ph.D.

An ongoing National Science Foundation (NSF) grant at Virginia Commonwealth University aims to increase the number of diverse faculty – especially female faculty – in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines at the university.

The ADVANCE-IT (Institutional Transformation) program, funded by a $2.99 million NSF grant, aims to spur and sustain institutional change from within. Maike Philipsen, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Foundations of Education as well as co-principal investigator and deputy director of the grant, has worked with the grant leadership team for the past three years to establish institutional programs at VCU that promote diversity and inclusion.

One such initiative is the Immunity to Change (ITC) facilitators program, part of the culture change initiative of the grant. In the program, ITC facilitators learn about the ITC Framework in a cohort model over a four-month period, and then use the skills they learned to become change agents at VCU. Facilitators then lead ITC workshops and facilitation sessions across the university.

Jose Alcaine, Ph.D., director of research services in the Office of Research and Faculty Development and affiliate faculty in Department of Foundations of Education, is a member of the 2021 cohort of ITC facilitators. “This is such a wonderful program to learn about the ITC framework and to gain skills that help in making meaningful, positive institutional change at VCU, as well as other universities and organizations,” said Alcaine, “It is amazing to learn directly from such luminaries as Lisa Lahey and to apply some of her work right here at VCU!”

Thus far, the ITC facilitators program has trained more than 20 facilitators who have led workshops and facilitated sessions at VCU. About 25 participants are currently training with an expected completion date of October 1, 2021. This meaningful work will continue with additional cohorts planned in the future.

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