Graduate School Appoints Adebayo Assistant Dean for Inclusion and Engagement

Olufunmilayo (Funmi) Adebayo
Olufunmilayo (Funmi) Adebayo

Olufunmilayo (Funmi) Adebayo has been named assistant dean for inclusion and engagement at the Graduate School.

Adebayo, who began her appointment earlier this month, holds a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering from Cornell University and recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. During her career, she has supervised or implemented a wide array of initiatives designed to increase diversity in higher education.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Funmi Adebayo has accepted my offer to lead the Graduate School’s efforts in the areas of inclusion and engagement,” says Barbara Krauthamer, dean of the Graduate School. “During the national search to fill this position, Funmi rose to the top of a competitive applicant pool based on her longstanding commitment to enhancing diversity across academia and her impressive range of relevant skills and experience. Funmi’s strengths as a researcher, teacher, mentor and academic program developer will help ensure her success at UMass. Moreover, her proven track record in effectively working with varied university constituencies—including faculty, administrators, and students from a broad range of disciplines—demonstrates that she possesses strong communication and relationship-building abilities. These qualities will prove invaluable as the Graduate School collaborates with the broader university community to develop new initiatives that will expand support for underrepresented students and augment public engagement opportunities for the entire graduate student population.”

Adebayo’s background in diversity and inclusion encompasses numerous positions at Cornell University. As a graduate student, she served as coordinator for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, where she devised academic and professional development programs for traditionally underrepresented students preparing to enter graduate school. In her capacity as a graduate resident fellow at the Carl Becker House, Adebayo mentored undergraduates from diverse backgrounds by helping them identify and navigate obstacles impeding their academic progress. She has also conducted pedagogical research investigating the persistence and success of underrepresented students in higher education.

Recognizing her outstanding efforts to improve minority student retention rates in higher education, Cornell selected Adebayo for the 2014 Zellman Warhaft Commitment to Diversity Award. More broadly, her work has also received support from the National Science Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, and the Orthopaedic Research Society.

Adebayo will oversee the Graduate School’s recently established Office of Inclusion and Engagement in pursuit of two main objectives. First, she will establish the office as the university’s principal campus-wide resource for augmenting the recruitment, retention and success of outstanding graduate students from historically underrepresented populations. In this vein, Adebayo will create professional development programming for recipients of the Graduate School’s Spaulding-Smith STEM Fellowships and Research Enhancement and Leadership (REAL) Fellowships. Beginning with the 2018-19 academic year, these programs will cumulatively support approximately 150 graduate students from diverse backgrounds. Adebayo will also form partnerships with academic departments and other university entities to implement a campus-wide recruitment strategy for promising graduate applicants from underrepresented populations.

Second, the Office of Inclusion and Engagement will foster new career possibilities for graduate students by developing training opportunities and funding mechanisms that will help students meaningfully participate in existing public discussions of key problems related to their research. Toward this end, Adebayo will work with the Graduate School’s Office of Professional Development to offer skill-building workshops and leadership seminars designed to enhance student communication and networking proficiency. She will also administer grant programs underwriting pilot projects that enable students to explain the significance of their research to and connect with non-academic communities.

“I am thrilled to join the academic community at the University of Massachusetts Amherst,” says Adebayo. “This opportunity is especially exciting for me because UMass has carefully cultivated a strong culture of inclusion and engagement, a foundation that I look forward to building upon in partnership with colleagues across the university. Together we will work to better position our highly talented students for professional and academic success while further elevating the university’s stature as a leading force for diversity, inclusion and public engagement within academia.”