Darien Weatherspoon, Iris Cardenas, and Anjana Solaiman

The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity’s online program provides faculty members with strategies for academic success, better work-life balance, increased productivity, and more.

Photo: From left, Darien Weatherspoon, Iris Cardenas, and Anjana Solaiman

The University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI) co-sponsored a second UMB cohort to participate in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity’s (NCFDD) Faculty Success Program (FSP), and this year’s group reported similar satisfaction from the experience.

Delivered online over a 12-week period between January and April, FSP is designed to help participants achieve academic success and better work-life balance. It offered one-on-one coaching sessions; access to weekly training modules to learn skills, strategies, and practices that will help participants align their time and spark productivity; and accountability calls to discuss goals and progress toward achieving them.

According to the NCFDD website, a survey of the spring 2023 cohort found that 94 percent experienced improved writing productivity, 95 percent were satisfied overall, and 85 percent reported achieving better work-life balance.

“The Faculty Success Program increases access and provides important resources to strengthen faculty diversity and development at UMB,” said Diane Forbes Berthoud, PhD, MA, chief equity, diversity, and inclusion officer and vice president, UMB, and professor, University of Maryland Graduate School. “Each cohort continues to report how rewarding and impactful the program has been. We are so pleased to be creating this opportunity through NCFDD for our faculty who are so integral to the educational experience at UMB, and we remain committed to their success as they pursue their scholarship and practice while enhancing student success.”

OEDI is dedicated to providing leadership, building capacity, and cultivating collective action to advance sustainable, systemic change that promotes equity and justice at UMB. A key part of that mission is championing the advancement of faculty diversity and development. This year’s UMB cohort was composed of 11 participants representing five schools: dentistry (UMSOD), medicine (UMSOM), nursing (UMSON), pharmacy (UMSOP), and social work (UMSSW):

  • DeNiece Bennett, DNP, RN, assistant professor, UMSON at the Universities at Shady Grove
  • Iris Cardenas, PhD, MSW, assistant professor, UMSSW
  • Doee Kitessa, MD, assistant professor, UMSOM
  • Andrea Levine, MD, assistant professor, UMSOM
  • Monica McArthur, MD, PhD, former assistant professor, UMSOM
  • Lynn Michalopoulos, PhD, MA, associate professor, UMSSW
  • Jason Noel, PharmD, associate professor, UMSOP
  • Abraham Schneider, DDS, PhD, associate professor, UMSOD
  • Yan Shu, MD, PhD, associate professor, UMSOP
  • Anjana Solaiman, DNP, NNP-BC, IBCLC, assistant professor, UMSON at the Universities at Shady Grove
  • Darien Weatherspoon, DDS, MPH, clinical assistant professor, UMSOD

Echoing the reactions of the first UMB cohort, the 2023 participants found the program to be rewarding, and they appreciated the chance to meet, get to know, and network with fellow UMB faculty members.

“The timing was perfect for me because I was beginning to pick up a lot more responsibilities in my position, and I wanted to learn how to have a successful academic career while also maintaining work-life balance,” said Weatherspoon, who was program director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research’s Oral Health Disparities and Inequities Research Program before joining UMSOD in 2021. “I also wanted to learn how to develop a consistent writing habit while juggling other responsibilities. FSP seemed like the perfect program to teach me these skills.

“I really enjoyed the weekly check-ins,” Weatherspoon added. “They were a great way to stay accountable for the goals we created for ourselves during the program. I also really enjoyed learning from my fellow group members and coach, each of whom came from unique academic disciplines and institutions and offered diverse perspectives. We developed a strong camaraderie and helped each other with any questions or challenges we may have been facing.”

Solaiman saw the program as a great way to reset for the next semester by “learning and relearning concepts that will help me navigate my role as faculty.”

“The highlight for me was making meaningful connections with other faculty members outside of my institution,” Solaiman said. “The weekly check-ins kept me accountable, and I looked forward to sharing my progress and brainstorming ideas with others.”

Cardenas said her highlight was “sharing our successes and challenges and learning from our collective experience.”

“As a new faculty member, I was excited about the prospect of having tailored guidance and strategies to help me with this transition and connect with a supportive community,” she added. “Programs like this are pivotal for the development and retention of diverse faculty. Such initiatives not only equip faculty with strategies to succeed, but they also send a clear message of the institution’s commitment to support them.”

Weatherspoon agreed.

“Programs like this will help with diverse faculty development and retention at UMB because they provide extremely valuable career development tools that can really help contribute to success in an academic environment,” he said. “FSP and other similar programs also allow participants to interact with other diverse faculty and get feedback and shared perspectives on career topics that are important for faculty development and retention.”

Yolanda Ogbolu, PhD, NNP, FNAP, FAAN, who was promoted to Bill and Joanne Conway Dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing in July, was a 2022 participant in the program.

“FSP is an excellent program, and I would highly recommend participation of faculty at all levels of their career,” Ogbolu said.

Learn more about the Faculty Success Program. If you are interested in learning about other programs sponsored by the Office of EDI and/or NCFDD, email diversity@umaryland.edu.

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