Applications open for Diversity and Inclusion Grants proposals

With the launch last fall of Washington University’s Diversity and Inclusion Grants program, nearly $240,000 in grant money was awarded to 13 projects aimed at improving the university environment for women and members of underrepresented minority groups.

Faculty and administrators again are invited to submit proposals for program initiatives that strengthen and promote diversity and inclusion at WUSTL. Diversity includes differences in gender, race, ethnicity, geography, socioeconomic status, age, politics, philosophy, disability and sexual orientation.

The Advisory Committee for the Diversity and Inclusion Grants will review the proposals. The committee is particularly interested in proposals that address work environment, recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and administrative staff, and cultural competence.

Successful proposals should involve collaboration within or across departments, units or schools; demonstrate tangible results, such as metrics of success for the short term as well as metrics to measure future impact; and include departmental- or school-funding support (financial and/or other).

Funding is one-time only, and awards will range in size up to a maximum of $50,000.

Naomi Daradar Sigg, assistant director of student involvement and leadership in the student activities office, was project leader of one of last year’s successful proposals.

Sigg’s team received a $15,000 grant for a “train the trainer initiative,” which trained 20 faculty and staff members on diversity and social justice issues as well as on facilitation skills.

A highlight of the training, which was held from February to June of this year, included bringing in Kathy Obear, a nationally renowned diversity and organizational development consultant to do a two-day session with the participants and to help develop a curriculum for the eight training sessions.

The faculty and staff participants, who were selected through an application process, were a diverse group from several departments and schools and with varying degrees of experience with diversity and social justice, Sigg says.

“The curriculum allowed for those with minimal experience to learn more about diversity and social justice issues as well as delve into their identities and biases while helping participants with more experiences to brush up on facilitation skills and think more intentionally about diversity issues in higher education,” Sigg says.

“We hope that the program will help to establish a web of faculty and staff able to conduct training workshops for other departments, groups and student organizations.”

John Russell, PhD, professor of developmental biology and associate dean for graduate education for the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS), was project leader of another successful proposal last fall for a Diversity and Inclusion Grant.

His project team received a $30,000 grant to fund a Diversity Research Scholars Visit ( last April that brought 19 prospective postdoctoral research scholars to Washington University for a recruiting visit.

The two-day event, hosted by DBBS and the Office of Post Graduate Affairs, included lectures from faculty, informal discussions and a poster session.

“The Diversity Research Scholars Visit was a terrific opportunity to highlight Washington University as an outstanding institution for postdoctoral training to graduate students who might not otherwise consider us,” Russell says.

He said the visit was highlighted by welcomes from Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton; Provost Edward S. Macias, PhD; Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine; and Richard J. Smith, PhD, dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Russell says that most of the attendees will not be ready to begin their postdoc positions until late this winter or next spring, but two visitors already have begun their postdocs in WUSTL labs.

A list of other successfully funded programs from 2009-10 is available here:

Members of the Advisory Committee for the Diversity and Inclusion Grants are: Committee co-chairs Kent Syverud, JD, dean of the School of Law and the Ethan A.H. Shepley University Professor, and Kathleen McDermott, PhD, associate professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences; Ron King, PhD, the Myron Northrop Professor of Accounting in the Olin Business School; Shelley Milligan, EdD, associate provost; Carolyn Sargent, PhD, professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences; and Jay R. Turner, PhD, associate professor of energy, environmental and chemical engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

Questions or comments may be addressed to any committee member.

The deadline for submission is Nov. 5. Decisions will be announced by the end of the fall semester.

All applications must be submitted online. To apply, visit