Sandra Petersen, a nationally recognized leader in developing recruitment and mentorship programs for underrepresented graduate students from the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), has been named senior graduate diversity advisor by Barbara Krauthamer, dean of the Graduate School.
A professor of veterinary and animal sciences, Petersen currently serves as director of the STEM Diversity Institute (SDI), which has dramatically increased minority student enrollment and retention in campus science and engineering doctoral programs over the past 15 years.
Petersen’s two-year appointment will begin in June 2018 at the conclusion of her term as director of SDI.
In her new role, Petersen will broaden her focus beyond the STEM disciplines to help the Graduate School consolidate and amplify its diversity and inclusion initiatives across all academic fields. Most notably, Petersen will contribute to the development of a campus-wide recruitment and retention strategy for underrepresented graduate students. She will also collaborate with other university leaders in the area of diversity and inclusion to help foster a more welcoming educational environment and cohesive community for students from diverse backgrounds. These responsibilities will complement Petersen’s ongoing service as a mentor to dozens of underrepresented STEM graduate students.
“I am delighted that Dr. Petersen has accepted my invitation to join the Graduate School during a particularly exciting phase of our institutional history,” said Krauthamer. “As the Graduate School devotes new resources to recruiting and supporting students from historically underrepresented populations, we will greatly benefit from Dr. Petersen’s vast expertise in designing fellowship, professional development, and community-building programs that support these goals. Through her work with the STEM Diversity Institute, Sandy has achieved remarkable results in enhancing the university’s reputation as a leading institutional force for diversity in graduate education, and I am looking forward to having her continue to do so as the Graduate School’s new senior graduate diversity advisor.”
Petersen was honored in 2015 by President Obama with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring for her groundbreaking achievements with SDI and related projects. Since embarking on this work in 2003, Petersen has acquired approximately $17 million in federal grants and institutional matching funds to enhance diversity in UMass STEM doctoral programs. These efforts have quadrupled enrollment and nearly doubled the retention rate among underrepresented graduate students in relevant departments.