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Diversity at the Front of the Classroom

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An Inclusive and Welcoming Campus

In 2011, UMD was awarded the Equity and Diversity Outstanding Unit Award in recognition and celebration of its strategic work toward equity and diversity. The plaque presentation brought together the University community and external stakeholders—alumni, donors, community organizations, and corporate entities—to recognize the students, faculty, and staff doing the work, and to reaffirm the University’s commitment.

UMD continues to take great strides in institutionalizing equity and diversity as core values, including the second year of the Pre-Doctoral Teaching Fellowships currently underway. The University of Minnesota Community of Scholars Program (COSP) invites students who are Ph.D. candidates who have completed all requirements for the doctorate except the dissertation. These candidates apply to teach one course per semester (fall and spring) while writing their dissertations.

This initiative offers Ph.D. candidates an opportunity to teach at another institution while finishing their pre-doctoral requirements, to diversify the faculty at the host campus, and to provide a professional development program and mentorship for the pre-docs.

The selection process includes an application that requires candidates to describe their background with emphasis on geographical and cultural diversity. Fellows are mentored by senior faculty, participate in department and campus activities, and meet regularly with the COSP Director to discuss dissertation progress and overall professional development.

Pre-Doc Perspectives

In 2011-2012, UMD had three fellows and is hosting another three for the 2012-2013 academic year. The doctoral candidates teaching on campus this year are Akiko Maeker, Eun Joo Kim, and Benjamin Agbo.

UMD predoc student Akiko Maeker  
Akiko Maeker

Akiko Maeker, Department of Management Studies

How did you hear about the Pre-Doc program?
I read about it in the department newsletter that comes from the Coordinator of Graduate Studies of our department, Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development.

What is your dissertation topic?
One of my overarching research interests is around how one's intercultural competence may or may not affect his/her professional performance. For my dissertation research, I am interested in investigating the topic of intercultural coaching. In particular, I plan to look at the intercultural competence of professional coaches and how it may or may not influence the way the coaches perceive the impact of culture on coaching.

Background and Education
I was born and raised in Japan, and now I live and work in the US. While I have professional and academic interests in intercultural communication and relations, I also lead a very intercultural personal life. I am in an international and interfaith marriage, raising two bi-cultural, bilingual, biracial children. I feel that this connection between professional, academic, and personal aspects of my life is the strength I bring to what I do. Prior to coming to the UMD, I received a BA in Intercultural Studies from Kobe College in Japan, MA in Educational Policy and Administration with a focus on Comparative and International Development Education from the U of M Twin Cities.  I am enjoying this teaching fellowship program very much, and one of the key reasons is because it allows me to take an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research. Having an academic base in the College of Education and Human Development (where the OLPD department is housed), I struggle to find an outlet to exercise my research and teaching interest in both education-related topics and business-related topics. My hope is to bring the notion of intercultural leadership and organization development into both the educational contexts and business contexts. This fellowship program offers me an opportunity to teach in the management studies department, integrating my knowledge in the fields of education and intercultural communication and relations. I personally believe that higher education in the coming years needs to be and will be more interdisciplinary. And that is exactly what I am experiencing in this fellowship program. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity and all of the support and mentoring I receive from those involved in making this fellowship program a reality and also from my colleagues at UMD.

UMD predoc student Eun Joo Kim  
Eun Joo Kim

Eun Joo Kim, Department of English

How did you hear about the Pre-Doc program?
I first heard about the program through the Community of Scholars Program listserv, when it was being launched in its first year. I was interested in applying, but thought it may make more sense to apply in my final year of dissertation writing. So, I waited a year to apply and was happy that it was offered for a second year. I also knew all three of last year’s fellows, and regularly saw one of them. She told me when she first heard of her acceptance into the program, and continued to update me on her fellowship experience. I was impressed that she had so many positive things to say about her experience.

What is your dissertation topic?
My research focuses on contemporary multilingual writings and performances of Korean American women.

Background and Education
I was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in Queens, New York. I had studied English and Fine Arts at Brandeis University for my BA and received a MA in English at NYU. I was just about to begin my 6th year of my doctoral program at the U of M when I moved to Duluth for my fellowship year. I have really enjoyed teaching at UMD this semester. It’s been great to get to know a new group of students and to teach courses that I enjoy. I have been fortunate in having the opportunity to teach courses that I already have some familiarity with, and to revise my teaching strategies, selected readings, and assignments. I’ve also been lucky to have such an engaged, curious, and respectful group of students. It’s really been wonderful. I also really appreciate the various kinds of support that this program offers. My faculty mentor has been so helpful in working with me through my teaching and my job application process. The English faculty, in general, have been incredibly welcoming and supportive. It’s nice to be aligned more closely with faculty than with students for the first time in my academic career. In that sense, this program has offered me an ideal transition as I am currently on the academic job market. The financial support is also much appreciated. I am looking forward to not having to teach this upcoming summer, and plan to use the time to begin revising my dissertation into a book. I plan to be traveling to at least one conference this upcoming spring, so the research allowance will also help support those plans. This program has offered so much support, while still allowing me much-appreciated time and space for me to work on the final stages of my dissertation. This is a pretty ideal way for me to spend my last year at the U and in graduate school.

UMD predoc student Benjamin Agbo  
Benjamin Agbo

Benjamin Agbo, Department of Education

How did you hear about Pre-Doc Program?
I first heard about the program from COSP - Committee of Scholars Program newsletter. This organization is under the auspices of the Office for Equity and Diversity and The Graduate School and memberships are drawn from the under represented individuals at the University of Minnesota. However, in 2010, I attended a briefing about the program that was organized by the Office for Equity and Diversity and The Graduate School at the Twin Cities campus. Representatives from both Duluth and Morris were there and talked interesting things about their schools. It was there that I met Tim Holst for the first time.

What is your doctoral topic?
It is "Global Human Capital Obsolescence in the Building Construction Industry: Strategic Imperatives for Nigeria and the United States". This is a comparative study that examines knowledge and skills deterioration in the building construction industry.

Background and Education
I migrated to the United States from Nigeria in 2004. Prior to my coming to the States, I was a college instructor and also taught at post primary (High) school level for ten years. I obtained my first and second degrees from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. My B.Sc. and M.Ed. programs focused on Vocational-Teacher Education with a bias in Industrial Technical - Building/Woodwork Technology Education. My PhD program is on Work and Human Resource Education - Comprehensive. I am currently a full time student at the Twin Cities campus but at doctoral candidacy status, which is a prerequisite for pre-doctoral programs at UMD. What I am enjoying most about the pre-doctoral program are the opportunities it has availed to me in pursuance of my career goals. Most importantly, the people around here are showing tremendous amounts of support and mentoring. In fact, every faculty I have interacted with is willing to help in one way or another. I am enjoying the friendship and the professionalism of education faculties. Let me not forget to mention that my teaching activities are exciting to the extent that I am always longing for the next class and/or contact.






Written by Christiana Kapsner, January 2013

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