Professorial Advancement Initiative FAQ

  • What are the program's objectives?

    The goal of the Big Ten Academic Alliance AGEP PAI is to increase the number of underrepresented minority (URM) faculty members hired within the Big Ten Academic Alliance. This goal is supported by two objectives: a) create a pool of URM postdocs, prepared and trained for success in a tenure track position; and b) educate faculty members and faculty search committees about diversity hiring. A more complete description of the PAI goals, objectives, and outcomes is detailed in this memo.
  • What are the responsibilities of the postdoctoral participants?

    The goal of the PAI postdoc program is to prepare URM postdocs for faculty positions, and assist them in securing tenure track faculty positions within the 12 Big Ten Academic Alliance universities.  Each postdoc in the program will have a mentoring group, normally consisting of the advisor, a faculty member on the resident campus, and two faculty members at other Big Ten Academic Alliance schools.  Off-campus mentors are particularly beneficial, in that they can provide guidance and entrée into faculty positions on their campuses. The on-campus advisor and faculty mentor are critical in that they can provide more frequent face-to-face mentoring.

    The members of the mentoring group will be chosen carefully and strategically by the advisor in consultation with the postdoc. The participating postdocs are expected to meet regularly (nominally monthly) with the mentoring group, to discuss the essentials of being a successful professor and how to avoid early career difficulties, and to receive coaching from successful faculty on several campuses.  Mentoring materials have been prepared by the AGEP Team and will serve as the guide for the mentoring sessions.  In the last six months or so before applying for a faculty position, the participating postdocs will engage in   monthly interview preparation teleconferences where they can practice their interview skills and receive expert feedback.

    Prior to the end of the program, participating postdocs will be expected to prepare their CVs and job application materials, and apply for faculty positions within the CIC. The internal and external mentors will help guide the postdocs through this process, particularly on the Big Ten Academic Alliance campuses.
  • What tangibles will the postdoctoral participants leave the program with?

    Postdocs will receive coaching and will leave with refined academic skills for success in the academy.  At completion of the program, they will be demonstratively competitive in the academic job market. Each postdoc, working with his/her mentoring team will prepare and submit an Individual Development Plan at the beginning. Toward the end, the postdocs are expected to have a strong CV and well-crafted application materials. Postdocs will be provided with application opportunities and will receive coaching through the application process.  We expect postdocs in the PAI to receive interviews and ultimately employment offers from a number of universities within the Big Ten Academic Alliance.
  • What are the time commitments?

    Postdocs are expected to meet with their mentor teams typically once a month for about 30-60 minutes.  A mix of face-to-face meetings and video teleconferencing is anticipated.   In some cases, mentors might actually be engaged in the research, in which case those research interactions might be more frequent. There may be opportunities to travel to other campuses for networking, conferencing, and pre-interview job preparation.
  • Are the participants expected to produce any deliverables?

    An Individual Development Plan is expected, but this is also typically expected by the postdoc’s sponsor.  It is also expected that participants will secure a job at the end of the postdoc assignment, which is the primary purpose of the program.
  • How many participants are you aiming for each institution and for the entire program?

    The total number of postdoc participants will vary from school to school. Typical numbers are between 10 and 20 per university. The same is true for faculty mentors and advisors. We anticipate 10 to 20 advisors on each campus on average and between 30 to 60 faculty mentors per campus on average.
  • What faculty are committed to the program and where are they from?

    Faculty mentor participation will be obtained as postdocs enter the program.  The matching of URM postdocs with faculty mentors will primarily evolve out of initial conversations between the advisor and postdoc. The AGEP Director will solicit names of prospective mentors from advisors, based on their local and regional knowledge of experts in their discipline both at the home institution and across the Big Ten Academic Alliance.  Ideally, we would strive to identify one local faculty mentor (same campus) and 1-3 Big Ten Academic Alliance faculty mentors from across our campuses.

University of Illinois  •  Indiana University • University of Iowa  •  University of Michigan  •  Michigan State University  •  University of Minnesota  •  University of Nebraska-Lincoln  •  Northwestern University  •  Ohio State University  •  Pennsylvania State University  •  Purdue University  •  University of Wisconsin-Madison

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under AGEP-Transformation #1309028 and #1309173. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

NSF-PAI-LOGO 1309028, 1309173


AGEP Transformation Alliance projects are collaborative research projects representing new strategic alliances of institutions and organizations to develop, implement, and study evidence-based models to transform doctoral education, postdoctoral training, and faculty advancement for historically underrepresented minorities in specific STEM disciplines and/or STEM education research fields. Embedded social science and education research contributes to the knowledge base about how transformational models eliminate or mitigate negative factors and promote positive policies and practices for historically underrepresented minorities.

Big Ten Academic Alliance Staff Contact

Charity Farber
Associate Director
Programs Team

Campus Contact

Training Team