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Engineering professor Christopher Rose assumes appointment as Associate Provost for STEM Initiatives

Associate Provost able to hire new historically underrepresented faculty to STEM positions, promote programs for STEM faculty

Professor of Engineering Christopher Rose was appointed associate provost for STEM initiatives effective July 1, according to a Today@Brown announcement made by Provost Richard Locke P’18 July 21. In his new role, Rose will help grow the share of faculty who have been historically underrepresented in STEM and continue to build on initiatives that have highlighted and supported their work.

As former associate dean of faculty for special initiatives, “Rose has been central to our work with academic departments to advance faculty hiring commitments” the University established in the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, Locke wrote in an email to The Herald. “Placing this work in the Office of the Provost expands the scope beyond departments within the Dean of the Faculty to ensure University-wide attention.”

“I’m looking forward to building critical mass where we produce significant grants and scholarship in technical areas powered by the diversity and breadth of our HUG (Historically Underrepresented Group) faculty,” Rose said, adding that he hopes this “inspires HUG students, especially our brilliant Brown undergrads, to apply their genius to STEM.”

“Our hope and expectation is that this role, together with the other strategies we are employing, will reinforce our commitment to recruiting and retaining HUG faculty so that we can be the truly diverse and inclusive community that we need to be to drive academic excellence and discovery,” Locke wrote in an email to The Herald.  

In Rose’s prior position, his focus was on the physical sciences. As associate provost for STEM initiatives, Rose said he will work to “recruit HUG faculty in STEM,” not only in the physical sciences but also in the Division of Biology and Medicine and the School of Public Health. 

The term HUG was established as part of the DIAP and includes “those who self-identify as American Indian, Alaskan Native, African American, Hispanic or Latinx, and Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander.”

Explicitly identifying HUGs “allows the university to focus efforts on those racialized groups that have historically been barred from access to higher education in the U.S.” within the hiring process, wrote Shontay Delalue, vice president for institutional equity and diversity, in an email to The Herald. 

Rose, “a known connector in the national STEM community and someone committed to diversifying these fields, will greatly assist the University” in mitigating the pipeline issue that contributes to “a lack of racial diversity in STEM fields,” Delalue wrote.

Though the University instated a hiring freeze earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, “as part of the DIAP phase 2, hiring underrepresented faculty is a strategic initiative” and can continue because of the previously established Target of Opportunity program, Rose said. This program permits hiring of “unique faculty talent outside of the usual departmental hiring process,” allowing Rose to “pursue and hire new HUG faculty in STEM this year.” 

Rose hopes to recruit faculty to Brown in permanent positions. “Without having permanent faculty, I don’t think the tenet of an institution changes.”

Rose hopes to develop a paper trail process, whereby departments will need to use formal memos in the hiring process to explain their reasons for accepting or denying faculty candidates. The goal of this process is “to allow a more careful examination of our hiring practices in regard to HUG STEM faculty,” Rose said.

He will also create ways to build community among those faculty members. Since his summer appointment, Rose has been developing a website for an initiative he founded in 2018, STEMJazz, which aims to connect past and present University-associated, underrepresented faculty members in STEM. Through his role, Rose hopes to build “a HUG STEM faculty critical mass that makes Brown the place to be for aspiring and practicing HUG academics.”

Rose will “continue to manage the Provost Visiting Professors Program with a focus on STEM fields, as well as the Thinking Out Loud lecture series that is supported directly by the Office of the President,” according to the announcement from Locke. Though not listed as an initiative focused on underrepresented faculty, the Thinking Out Loud series has predominantly included HUG faculty in the past, Rose said. 

The lecture series “showcases profoundly creative and accomplished scholars who not only tackle some of the biggest 'Big Questions' there are, but also skillfully communicate their inner visions to broad audiences,” according to the series’ website.

Meanwhile, the Provost Visiting Professors Program aims to “attract highly accomplished and visible senior scholars who are making distinctive contributions to their fields.” This program is a means of identifying and recruiting faculty of any department and background that fit this description, but Rose will specifically work on recruiting faculty in STEM. 

In attending an orientation at the University, “it quickly became obvious that Brown was interested in (diversity) and interested at a high level,” Rose said. Now he believes that “Brown is the perfect place to be” because there is “an institutional commitment from the president on down” to support diversity.


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