UNI joins national network to support doctoral students from historically underrepresented communities

UNI joins national network to support doctoral students from historically underrepresented communities

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – University of Northern Iowa has been selected as a Holmes Scholars Institution, a designation reflecting a program of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) which supports students from historically underrepresented communities enrolled in doctoral programs in education. 

The program at UNI will support two students annually for up to two years in the Doctor of Education program in the College of Education. Benefits of the program include ongoing professional development opportunities and culturally responsive mentorship and support through UNI and AACTE. 

Since 1975, the AACTE cites a 21% decline in master’s degrees and 18% decline in doctoral degrees awarded to individuals seeking faculty roles. In addition, there is a lack of diversity in the faculty workforce that does not reflect the graduate student population. UNI sees participation in the Holmes Scholars Program as an opportunity for improvement. 

“Across Iowa, few educational leaders come from racially or ethnically diverse backgrounds. Given the changing demographics of our state and the diverse students we serve, more educational leaders from diverse backgrounds are needed,” said Amy Nielsen, interim associate dean of graduate studies for the College of Education and Holmes Scholars Program coordinator. 

Two second-year students in the current doctoral program cohort will be selected as the first Holmes Scholars at UNI. Additional students will be accepted into the program as the next cohort completes enrollment for a new cohort beginning fall 2024. 

Holmes Scholars at UNI join a national network of peers who they will connect with through events and online support, including free webinars. As part of the program, the College of Education will support their attendance and participation – including research presentations – at AACTE’s Annual Meeting and Holmes Pre-Conference. Scholars also have priority participation in an annual job fair. 

The Holmes Scholars Program launched at AACTE in 1991 as an initiative of a coalition of research universities working to address the underrepresentation of minorities in the teaching workforce and among higher education faculty. More than 50 institutions have active Holmes Scholars programs. The EdD is the only doctoral program offered at UNI currently and completes the continuum of undergraduate and graduate curriculum at the state’s largest teacher education program.