RAMP-UP! at Rensselaer: An NSF ADVANCE Initiative

RAMP-Up, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's NSF-funded project for institutional transformation, stands for Reforming Advancement Processes through University Professions.

One of the major goals of the RAMP-Up project is institutional reform using mechanisms of professional self-regulation as a means for controlling advancement through faculty ranks.

Unlike reforms aimed at top-down policy initiatives, this type of self-regulatory reform cannot be mandated, but is achieved only by rethinking faculty-to-faculty processes such as networking, mentoring, and peer review. The kind of change necessary for effective institutional reform will come about as a transformation of culture at all levels of the institute, particularly within departments, which are the hubs of faculty work.    [Project Summary]

RAMP-Up Rensselaer

As one of the oldest and most prestigious technology-based schools in the country, Rensselaer has had a long-standing reputation for excellence, attracting top educators and scientists from all over the world. In the past, however, due in part to antiquated standards for promotion and tenure, renowned female educators and scientists sometimes fell through the proverbial "cracks," losing out on promotion to full professor because of life circumstances such as childbirth and spousal hires.

Goals of RAMP-Up

RAMP-Up's predominant goal is to change the culture and climate of the institute to one that is supportive of all faculty members. Dedicated staff and faculty members recognize that institutional transformation is integral to advancement reform and view it as both a worthy and necessary challenge.

Through RAMP-Up, Rensselaer's faculty and administrative leaders have made an ongoing commitment to address core issues of advancement by setting specific goals to create a model for self-reform. Provost Dr. Robert Palazzo and President Shirley Ann Jackson strongly support the work and goals of RAMP-Up. In March of 2007, Dr. Palazzo launched the program stating "Rensselaer is well-situated to address issues associated with women's advancement to the senior ranks."

As Co-Principal Investigator for the RAMP-Up project, the Provost also acknowledged "Under President Jackson's leadership, the Institute has seen the number of women in our faculty increase by 29 % since 2001, with a growth of 33% at the senior level." Dr. Palazzo believes this program is committed to a broader goal of reinforcing Rensselaer's firm commitment to maximize the potential of each and every faculty member.

RAMP-UP! Initiatives

  • Advancement Reform
  • As a commitment to retooling the recruitment, retention, and advancement process for faculty at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, RAMP-Up will work with a faculty team and the Provost to resolve disparities among departments in the tenure and promotion processes. The recommendations made by the Promotion & Tenure Committee within the Institute will provide global benchmarks for interpreting faculty performance goals.

  • Advocacy
  • RAMP-Up has been able to support women faculty in presenting cases for tenure or tenure review. Individual assistance on a case-by-case basis has helped women with bias avoidance concerns, health issues, and other matters which may not be addressed in the current formal tenure process.

  • Career Campaign Awards
  • As one of its first initiatives, RAMP-Up introduced the Career Campaign Award to help individuals develop professional career trajectories. This program aids departments in addressing leadership by senior women among faculty members.

  • Departmental Cultural Change
  • A critical mechanism for self-reform by departments.

  • Faculty Coaches
  • Faculty Coaches will also be members of the Advisory Board, representing a cross section of all ranks and departments. These accomplished Professors help guide and support the project as members of the leadership team.

  • Pipeline Search
  • Represents an effort to work with departments to build representation by a senior women in a science or engineering department.

  • Women's Networking T.E.A.S. (Towards Excellence in Academia Seminars)
  • This social networking addition to our RAMP-Up program focuses on specific topics beneficial to the advancement of women faculty.

  • Workshops
  • Workshops exploring aspects of the many barriers to achieving advancement for women, as well as facilitating communication, advocacy, and advancement reform, have been warmly received by faculty participants. These initiatives support women as they confidently move ahead with their respective career advancement plans.

Please visit our [Initiatives] section for greater detail.