CLARKSTON, Ga.—Dr. Cynthia Lester of Georgia State University’s Perimeter College has been selected as a fellow for the IAspire Leadership Academy, a program aimed at developing and training Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) faculty and administrators from underrepresented groups for senior leadership roles at colleges and universities. The new program is housed at the University of Georgia.
Lester is the associate dean for Georgia State’s Clarkston Campus and for the division of math, computer science and engineering at the university’s Perimeter College, where she’s also a computer science associate professor. She is one of 20 individuals chosen for the National Science Foundation-affiliated program.
“It’s encouraging to see that Dr. Lester’s leadership in STEM — including the incredible work she is doing at Perimeter to ensure we graduate more females who ultimately pursue careers in STEM — is being recognized by a national organization,” said Perimeter College Dean Nancy Kropf.
“We trust that Dr. Lester’s experience as an IAspire fellow will have a positive impact on her trajectory as a professor and college administrator as well as on every Perimeter student studying in the STEM pathways.”
IAspire is part of the Aspire Alliance’s Institutional Change Initiative (IChange), which helps to address a national goal of broadening diversity and increasing inclusion in STEM fields and higher education leadership.
During her tenure at Perimeter College, Lester has led efforts to secure more than $3.5 million of support for the college’s faculty, students and secondary school partnerships with a mission to expand the STEM pipeline and increase the number of students prepared for and enrolled in STEM degree programs and improving students success in STEM fields.
“I am honored to have been selected as an IAspire fellow,” Lester said. “Being able to participate in such a prestigious program means a lot to me and reaffirms that I really am doing my life’s work of diversifying and increasing access to STEM.”
Suzanne Barbour, biochemistry and biophysics professor and dean of the graduate school at the University of Georgia, stressed the academy’s importance.
“Advancing diversity and inclusion in STEM is an urgent national challenge, and we simply can’t address the problem without a strong base of leaders who represent the demographics of the country.”
Nearly 60 faculty from two- and four-year institutions across the country applied for the IAspire fellowship, which runs through July of next year and includes sessions in Minneapolis, Denver and Washington, DC.