NSF Supplement Award Enables Dual Career Program Upgrades

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With the support of a one-year NSF Career Life Balance Initiative Supplement grant to Lehigh's existing ADVANCE IT award, Lehigh University is spearheading the development of a regional consortium that will transform the way Lehigh, together with top employers in our region, approach the common challenges of hiring and retaining diverse faculty (especially focused on STEM women) with dual career considerations.  This one-year award began October 2013, and can kickstart significant enhancements to institutional and regional capacity to attract and retain a diverse and talented workforce. 

The State of Pennsylvania has embarked on a “brain gain” concept designed to attract and retain the “best and brightest” professionals to the state. The Lehigh Valley - home to many well-respected employers in higher education, health care, social services, and other industries - is optimally positioned to leverage this strong network to enhance the recruitment and retention of talented individuals across many fields. Lehigh President Alice Gast, Provost Patrick Farrell and Vice Provost for Academic Diversity (VPAD) Henry Odi convened a  breakfast summit November 14, 2013 to discuss the idea of a consortium with representatives of the area's  top employers from these sectors. Throughout the program, common challenges to recruiting and retaining dual career hires were expressed.  It was felt that by working together, we can enhance the diversity and quality of candidates in the region and improve our success rate.

Following this brainstorming session, the Lehigh Valley Partnership Executive Committee invited the Lehigh University team to present the concept to their Executive Board's  December 6, 2013 quarterly breakfast meeting.  The Dual Career Consortium concept received a full endorsement from LVP.  As leaders in the Lehigh Valley, these employers share a common interest in attracting the most talented employees possible. Now, a working group is being established to formulate the best model for the proposed consortium while a program manager and graduate research assistants are being recruited to manage and contribute to the effort. 

The funded activity will take existing University Faculty Dual Career Assistance Program (FDCAP) services and improve our intake inteview, data flow, and marketing and awareness of the campus service.  Expanded services will be realized with the independent consortium and necessary infrastructure and staff to connect partners of new hires with human resources needs throughout the area.  Over this  remaining supplement period, the goal is to define a business model that can integrate the FDCAP resources with best practices for inclusion and recruitment to move the regional dual career consortium from a Lehigh ADVANCE project to an independent entity in the community. This network can be used as a recruitment tool by all members that helps to ease relocation, while raising the visibility of the Lehigh Valley across the country for potential candidates from diverse backgrounds.