Ill. Board of Higher Education selects DFI fellows, goal of diversity at schools

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) – The Illinois Board of Higher Education announced the newest group of Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois students.

The DFI program provides financial assistance to underrepresented students pursuing graduate and professional degrees at Illinois public and private institutions with a goal of increasing faculty of color at Illinois higher education institutions, according to an announcement on Thursday.

For fiscal year 2021, IBHE is using $1.46 million to support 103 fellows, who were chosen from 20 participating DFI institutions across the state. Of those fellows, 65 are continuing students and 38 are new recipients. The program has served nearly 600 students since the program began in 2004, according to an announcement on Thursday.

“The DFI fellowship has significantly contributed to my success in graduate school where it has allowed for numerous professional development opportunities, both inside and outside of the university,” Melissa Pergande, a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago said.

As a condition of the award, recipients agree to accept a teaching or staff position in an Illinois higher education institution or governing board, or an education-related position in a state agency, equal to the number of years the student was a participant in the program, according to an announcement on Thursday.

“We are thrilled to support these DFI fellows as they continue their education and prepare for a rewarding career in Illinois higher education,” Ginger Ostro, executive director at IBHE said. “When we look at equity, we also look at diversity, and this program’s goal is to prepare doctoral candidates from underrepresented groups for teaching positions in our colleges and universities, or in education-related positions within state government. Not only does this create opportunity for increasing faculty of color, we know this is important to college success for more students of color.”

The DFI Act, enacted in 2004, authorizes the IBHE Board to appoint a DFI program board to establish policies and procedures to administer the program. IBHE staff provide the DFI program leadership and support, according to an announcement on Thursday.

“This is a dynamic program  that encourages and supports underrepresented students to remain as faculty members in the state of Illinois. To support the program’s success, we oversee various programs and activities that promote thesis and dissertation work for fellows and are in continuous communication with students and their institutional representatives about progress and achievement," Arthur Sutton, deputy director of diversity and outreach, said.

Copyright 2020 WIFR. All rights reserved.


October 8, 2020 at 04:50PM

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