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WVU Sociology professor featured in Science Magazine

Diversity is well recognized by industry, the academy, and other institutions as an incubator for learning, creativity and innovation. 

Melissa Latimer

It’s also recognized at West Virginia University, where Melissa Latimer, Professor of Sociology in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and Director of the ADVANCE Center, leads the charge of building and supporting an inclusive academic culture where all faculty thrive in their roles as scholars, teachers, and advocates for the citizens of the state.

Latimer’s efforts aren’t going unnoticed. She is being published in the April 8 issue of Science Magazine as part of a national social science research effort to synthesize data across multiple institutions and how to broaden the participation of women and other underrepresented faculty in STEM fields.

It is no small distinction. Over the last 15 years, the National Science Foundation has funded only 58 ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grants at universities across the country.

“Being published in Science Magazine speaks to the longevity and impact of the funding of the ADVANCE program, the vibrant community of scholars engaged in ADVANCE work, and the importance of making academia inclusive,” Latimer said. “The publication of our research in Science signals to the scientific academic community a public commitment to engaging in conversations about equity in order to create change.”

Latimer, along with Beth Mitchneck, Professor of Geography at the University of Arizona, and Jessi Smith, Professor of Psychology at Montana State University, co-authored the article, “A recipe for change: Creating a more inclusive academy.”

The article includes six research-based recommendations that institutions engaging in change should follow in order to bring about inclusion on their campuses: become familiar with existing social science research; hold leaders accountable for diversity and inclusion; seek external funding; focus on social interaction at the department level; collect and share data; and implement policy change.

Latimer served as Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology from 2006 to 2011. Her recent research examines gender inequality and academia and organizational change within institutions of higher education. Over the course of her career at WVU, she has published 27 manuscripts, including one book.

The WVU ADVANCE center received a $3.8 million Institutional Transformation grant in 2010 from the National Science Foundation to jumpstart its diversity and inclusion efforts.