Changing institutional structures, procedures, policies, and traditions that prohibit student success is critical, yet often exceptionally hard to accomplish.  In response, FIRST will launch Institutional Action Teams.  Each year FIRST’s Leadership Team will select one specific institutional barrier and catalyze the formation of a team of influential students, staff, and/or faculty members to study the barrier and propose specific, actionable recommendations that will be communicated directly to faculty leadership, administration, and the campus at large.

Each team will be charged with removing or reducing at least one specific institutional barrier to new majority student success in STEM that is beyond the reach of even the most committed and successful individuals.  Acknowledging that change can be slow and building buy-in can take time, the Leadership Team will keep Institutional Action Team recommendations “on the agenda” so that specific recommendations for positive change improve inclusivity in STEM at Davidson.

The inaugural FIRST Institutional Action Team was formed in Spring 2019 and includes five influential STEM students (Jonathan Kim, Claudia Hernandez, Sabid Hossain, Kasey Leung, Haleena Phillips) and an alumni coach (Annie Sadler ’17).  The team is currently developing responses to prompts such as: What do STEM faculty members need to understand about their students and their experiences?  What are STEM faculty members not seeing/understanding to help all students succeed?  What pushes students toward and away from STEM at Davidson?  How can institutional policies and/or structures be changed to enhance student success in STEM?  If you had a magic wand how would you improve STEM at Davidson?  What is FIRST overlooking?  The team is currently consulting with a wide constituency of STEM students and will prepare a report with recommendations for positive change near the end of the Spring 2019 semester.

Suggestions, ideas, and nominations for subsequent FIRST Institutional Action Team topics and/or members are welcome at any time by contacting any member of FIRST’s Leadership Team.