Stanford has launched a program to train its own young scholars to fill vacancies in the faculty ranks, the university announced Monday.
The new president of the Harvard College faculty, Martha Gellhorn, has been one of the most outspoken proponents of expanding young scholars positions, and she’s been pushing to recruit new faculty members for her own program for the past year.
In her first public comments on the matter, Gellhorns plan for a new graduate assistant program that will focus on mentoring young scholars through an annual academic summer program.
In a recent speech, Geller told the Boston Globe that her new program would provide “a unique opportunity to train and mentor students of color, women, and other underrepresented groups.”
Gellhorn also said she would create an advisory board of Harvard’s senior professors to oversee the graduate assistants program.
The new program, which is named the Graduate Assistant Scholars Program, is being developed by Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and Research, or GSEER.
“Graduate assistants are a critical source of research support for faculty and students, and we will work with them to expand their research opportunities,” said Gell Hahn, GSEERT’s director of undergraduate programs.
“The graduate assistant scholarship program will provide new opportunities for undergraduate students to be exposed to the world of graduate research in a way that will not only enrich their intellectual experience but also to make a difference in the lives of the faculty, students, staff, and alumni who have invested in the program,” Gell said.
In 2015, Harvard’s Graduate Program in Education and Humanities awarded the Graduate Assistants the prestigious Presidential Scholarships, one of only a handful of honors for graduate students.
The award is made up of $3,000 for a year of full-time work in a graduate program, plus $1,000 to be split between graduate assistants and fellows.
The program has been available to graduate assistants since 2015, and the first five programs opened in April of this year.
Geller said she wanted to expand the program to include other groups of students and to ensure that students who were not in graduate school but still wanted to learn were able to pursue their interests through the program.
The announcement came on the heels of a number of news stories about the increasing numbers of minority graduate students and faculty.
A recent study by the American Association of University Professors found that the number of minority faculty members has increased by 12 percent over the past decade.
A 2015 Harvard Law Review article reported that the University of Michigan, which has been at the forefront of embracing diversity, had a 75 percent increase in minority faculty last year.
The report noted that many minority groups were being left out of graduate student employment, including people of color and students with disabilities.
In the report, Yale Law professor David Luby said the numbers of minorities in law school programs “are just starting to reach a point where it’s a concern.”
He also said that a University of Texas at Austin study found that minority students “are often underrepresented in faculty positions in the field, but when you compare that to the numbers in law, it is quite different.”
Geller said the new program will offer mentoring opportunities and opportunities to get involved in research and the law school environment.
She also said it would be open to students of any background, including those who are underrepresented.
“I am hopeful that our students will feel that they can have the opportunity to learn from their peers,” she said.
“I am also hopeful that their work will be relevant to the broader world and the broader American experience.”
The announcement comes a day after the University System of Texas announced it had hired former President Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff, Nancy McLaughlin, to serve as its first African-American president.