Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

The work of disciplinary societies in identifying and nurturing faculty leaders

July 23, 2004

Disciplinary societies and professional associations play a critical role in ensuring the quality of leadership in undergraduate STEM programs. These groups legitimate the efforts of individual members, speak for the interests for a specific sector of the academic and scientific communities, and provide a forum for presidents, deans and faculty to discuss issues from the perspective of their varied positions of campus responsibility. These groups also advance knowledge and set standards for work in their field as they encourage, evaluate and disseminate research.

The PKAL Volume IV postings for July 23rd, 2004 highlight a selection of programs. The first, by Arnold Ostebee (St. Olaf College), describes the work of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). Ostebee also reports on the MAA Project Next, which supports undergraduate mathematics faculty in their early years as faculty members. The second, by Cathy Manduca (Carleton College), Heather Macdonald (College of William and Mary), David Mogk (Montana State University- Bozeman), and Barbara Tewksbury (Hamilton College), focused on the On the cutting edge professional development program, a disciplinary effort concentrating on faculty at all stages in their career. Finally, Carla Howery describes another approach to building leadership at the departmental level. Howery reports on a multi-year project undertaken by the American Sociological Association (ASA) on building and sustaining strong undergraduate sociology departments.

We also announce a new collaborative effort by national disciplinary societies and professional associations that will focus on increasing numbers and persistence of undergraduate STEM faculty from groups traditionally under-represented in STEM fields. This collaboration is one outcome of several years of informal discussions in Washington among leaders of national associations that share a concern about the quality and character of undergraduate STEM programs. Our current plan is to host an invitational meeting of leaders from national disciplinary societies/professional associations in February, and to confirm final plans for a three-year effort (2005 - 2007) at that time. Our regular morning planning meetings are scheduled for the 2nd Wednesday of each month, beginning this fall. Contact PKAL to see if your society/association is involved with this planning.