Chancellor Malatras Announces New PRODiG Fellowship Class to Retain Diverse and Talented SUNY Advanced Graduate Students and Post Docs as Instructors at SUNY System

June 29, 2021

Two-Year Fellowship Strengthens Pipeline of Underrepresented SUNY Graduate Students to Gain Valuable Teaching and Academic Experience

Over Past Year, SUNY has Increased Underrepresented Faculty Hires by 41%

SUNY Launches PRODiG Recruitment Campaign to Increase Awareness for Qualified Graduate Students; First Video Here; Photos from Today’s Announcement Here; New PRODiG Fellows Bios and Photos Available Online Here

Saratoga Springs, NY – State University of New York Jim Malatras announced today the new PRODiG Fellowship class—10 new PRODiG Fellows set to begin as visiting instructors on SUNY campuses for a two-year program starting this fall. This is the second class of fellows, with the 2019-2021 class preparing to complete their fellowships in Spring 2022 and qualifications for PRODiG faculty positions.

SUNY provides funding for the fellowship developed for advanced graduate students and post-doctoral students interested in exploring academic careers. Each Fellow is supported through webinars, mentoring, and grants to foster their success and continued advancement. Candidates may apply from any higher education institution.

The second PRODiG Fellowship class includes: Santiago Acosta, Old Westbury; Bridget Amulike, Potsdam; Adrienne Atterberry, New Paltz; Casey Coomes, Oneonta; Bernadet DeJonge, Empire State College; Jessica Gilbert, Geneseo; Douglas Houston, Jr., Buffalo State; CJ Jones, Purchase College; Staceyann Reid, Oswego; and Hannah Stokes-Ramos, Brockport.

Underrepresented minority new hires are up 41 percent year over year, due in large part to the system’s PRODiG (Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Growth) initiative.

This fall 170 PRODiG Faculty and Fellows are set to teach, with new PRODiG faculty hires expected before the start of the 2021 semester.

“While SUNY’s student population has become increasingly diverse, we need to do more to attract and retain top faculty who mirror our students’ diversity. We must not simply pay lip service to diversity, equity, and inclusion; we must continue to take meaningful action,” said Chancellor Malatras. “And by creating a pipeline for talented underrepresented graduate students and post docs to have a chance to teach and conduct research under our PRODiG Fellowship, will go a long way to starting to close equity gaps.”

SUNY Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Cesar Perales said, “Our students enroll in SUNY looking for an enriching academic experience, and part of cultivating a positive environment is ensuring that our diverse student body can learn from and be inspired by faculty members who look like them and come from the same communities. Through PRODiG, we are working to bring on board academics from different backgrounds, and with the support they will receive through PRODiG, each of our faculty and fellows will enter into their new role with access to the resources they need to succeed.”

Chancellor Malatras is also launching a new PRODiG recruitment campaign for underrepresented minorities and women in STEM to attract both PRODiG Fellows, who would then be qualified for faculty positions after completing the fellowship, and PRODiG Faculty. The campaign will use a mix of digital ads and targeted outreach. View the launch video here.

PRODiG is led by SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer Teresa Miller, who said, “We are thrilled to welcome the second class of PRODiG fellows to SUNY system—they are emerging experts in their fields, and are infectiously passionate about what they do. Representing a wide variety of academic backgrounds, subject matters, and demographics, these fellows already possess the necessary skills to thrive as scholars on our campuses. This is an exciting moment for SUNY, and we know that each of the 10 fellows will serve as leaders, academic stewards, and role models for their students on their respective campuses."

SUNY Empire State College Officer-in-Charge Nathan Gonyea said, "SUNY Empire embraces diversity as an integral part of the quality academic and social experiences necessary to prepare students for an increasingly multicultural, multiracial, and multilingual society. We are beyond proud to have placed a fellow in each of the first two PRODiG classes. This highlights one of the many ways in which we are making meaningful strides in implementing thoughtful, carefully considered programs, policies, and practices across our college and in accordance with SUNY priorities."

SUNY Empire Opportunity Programs Director Dana Brown said, "We have finally arrived at a point in our nation's history when we realize that diversity, equity, and inclusion are necessary, not optional. PRODiG is key to providing deserving academics with an opportunity to share their scholarship with the SUNY community."

SUNY Deputy Chief of Staff Juliana Hernandez-Commisso said, “Students learn better in an environment that is reflective of themselves—and the PRODiG program drives this forward. It’s helped attract brilliant scholars from all backgrounds who have inspired students to study and explore new fields of interest and be a role model for success. I want to congratulate the PRODiG Fellows and thank the Chancellor for making diversity, equity and inclusion a priority—leading the way nationally through his DEI 25 Point Action plan.”

New PRODiG Fellows participating in today’s announcement said the following:

SUNY New Paltz Fellow Adrienne Atterberry said, “As I look forward to starting my professorship this upcoming fall semester, I want to thank everyone for this great opportunity. This fellowship will provide me with the resources, time, and mentorship I need to gain experience with academic writing and publishing as well as teaching so that I’m better prepared once I accept that tenure track job.”

Buffalo State College, School of Education, Fellow Douglas Hoston, Jr. Ph.D. said, “I’m elated to receive this fellowship because its positioning opens doors or mentorship for individuals like me. As stated earlier, it is a needed opportunity to develop as professionals in ways that we don’t always get. Some of the systemic barriers are lifted by a program that acknowledges those barriers; it is refreshing.”

SUNY Old Westbury Fellow Santiago Acosta said, “I am very excited about this research opportunity, and am incredibly happy to be able to participate in this fellowship at SUNY Old Westbury as they look to expand their program offerings to students. I will be coming on board as they are starting an environmental studies major, and I am proud to be able to collaborate with everyone to make this happen.”

SUNY Brockport Fellow Hannah Stokes-Ramso said, “I am very grateful for this opportunity and all the other benefits that come with being a fellow. It’s important that we acknowledge that we’re at one step in this pipeline, and the fact that SUNY is talking about every step along the way is important.”

PRODiG faculty responded to today’s announcement, including:

Dr. Kate Cleary of SUNY Potsdam said, “When I decided to re-enter academia two years ago, I was fortunate to find an opportunity as an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Department at SUNY Potsdam. Here, I both teach students about real-world environmental problems and continue my work studying conservation in human-modified landscapes. I am extremely grateful for the support PRODiG has provided to my department to hire me, and to me for helping me feel connected to a larger community during my first challenging years.”

Dr. Jean McHugh of SUNY Downstate said, “Since becoming a PRODiG faculty, I received support, mentorship, and networking opportunities that catapulted my pedagogical development as a URM tenure-track faculty in the areas of scholarship and research. It is an incredible honor and privilege to be named a PRODiG faculty.”

As the second class is set to begin, the first PRODiG Fellowship is preparing to complete the program. SUNY’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will promote Fellows for faculty positions across the 64 campuses. When PRODiG Fellows are hired by a SUNY campus, SUNY also provides two years of funding as PRODiG Faculty. The inaugural class includes: Kathryn Grow Allen, Potsdam; Celinet Duran, Oswego; Andrés García Molina, Fredonia; Selenid Gonzalez-Frey, Buffalo State College; Valerie Guerrero Williamson, Cortland; Naiima Khahaifa, Empire State College; Emmanuel Nsengiyumva, Brockport; Bruno Renero-Hannan, Geneseo; Jessica D. Smeeks, New Paltz; and Samantha White, Plattsburgh.

Benefits for PRODiG Fellows

Fellows can build their teaching skills and portfolios during their fellowship, and SUNY provides:

  • Intentional support toward degree completion over two years for each PRODiG Fellow
  • Teaching experience in disciplines within the candidate's field of expertise
  • Faculty mentorship and professional development in teaching and first-year review
  • Networking with other fellows and faculty and collaboration across the consortium
  • Annual PRODiG future faculty conferences
  • Two-year non-renewable contracts with competitive compensation
  • Opportunities in many academic fields or disciplines
  • Funding for professional development
  • A generous stipend for summer research/creative activity
  • Travel funds and a moving expense allowance

Through PRODiG, launched by former Chancellor Kristina Johnson in 2018, SUNY provides financial support to campuses to support new faculty hires.

The PRODiG initiative is a key part of SUNY’s 25-point Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan, which announced in February. The Board of Trustees immediately adopted one of the Action Plan’s recommendations, creating a Board Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to review SUNY racial equity policy. Chairman Merryl H. Tisch appointed Trustees Marcos A. Crespo and Camille Joseph Varlack as co-chairs of the committee. In addition, SUNY will conduct a survey starting September 1, which will provide a comprehensive review of discrimination and racial inequities on all campuses, which is another recommendation within the plan.

For information about PRODiG, please click here. For the full SUNY Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Phase One Action Plan, please click here.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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