Transform Project

  • Transform Project

    Gannon University, located in northwest Pennsylvania, founded in 1925 and affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, is a private, primarily undergraduate institution with approximately 4,200 students.  Gannon University was awarded a five years NSF ADVANCE Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation, and Dissemination (PAID) grant. 

    The goal of TRANSFORM, Teaching-Research-Advancement Network to Secure Female Faculty for Organizational Retention and Management, is to increase the recruitment, retention, advancement, and leadership development for the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) female faculty at Gannon.

    Four objectives have been identified for achieving this goal: 1) recruit and retain female faculty in the STEM disciplines, 2) advance female faculty through the rank and tenure process, 3) prepare female faculty to hold effective leadership positions, and 4) educate deans, department chairs, and faculty leaders about issues affecting female faculty. 

    Three strategies support the goal:

    Strategy 1: Dual Career Services: Objective 1, the recruitment and retention of STEM female faculty members will be achieved through the creation of a Dual Career Services program.  The program will establish cooperative agreements with regional universities and industries to create a regional job database for skilled personnel.  As a result, trailing partners will have greater opportunities to find suitable employment. 

    Strategy 2: Research Initiation Awards: Objective 2, the advancement of female faculty through the rank and tenure process, will be achieved by establishing research awards for early- or mid-career STEM female faculty to augment research efforts. 

    Strategy 3: Leadership Developments: Objectives 3 and 4, the institutionalization of leadership development for faculty, chairs, and administrators, will be accomplished through the establishment of Leadership Training, a Leadership Forum, and a Regional Leadership Symposium.

    NSF Advance Project

    The goal of the ADVANCE program is to develop systemic approaches to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic STEM careers, thereby contributing to the development of a more diverse science and engineering workforce.  ADVANCE also has as its goal to seminally contribute to and inform the general knowledge base on gender equality in the academic STEM disciplines.

    Administrative Structure

    Steering Committee:    The overall direction of the project is provided by the TRANSFORM Steering Committee.

    This committee, chaired by the PI, includes the Co-PIs, the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, the Deans of the tree colleges, the Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and the Director of Human Resources.


    Strategy Teams:  Each one of the three strategies is implemented by specific Co-PIs and University personnel.

    • Dr. Elisa Konieczko (Co-PI, Biology Department) and Dr. Theresa Vitolo (Co-PI, Computer and Information Science Department) oversee Strategy 1:Dual Career Services;
    • Dr. Weslene Tallmadge (Co-PI, Chemistry Department) and Dr. Sreela Sasi (Senior Personnel, Computer and Information Science) oversee Strategy 2:Research Initiation Awards; and
    • Dr. Karinna Vernaza (PI, Mechanical Engineering Department), Dr. Lori Lindley (Senior Personnel, Psychology) and Catherine Datte (Director, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning) oversee Strategy 3: Leadership Developments.

    Intellectual Merit

    The intellectual merit of TRANSFORM begins with the support of the administration and is realized through the competencies of the Co-PIs to understand the nature of the problems associated with female faculty and to address them with successful, adapted strategies to transform the university’s culture at three distinct points: at recruitment, during scholarship growth, and as professional horizons expand.

    Broader Impact

    The broader impact of TRANSFORM will be felt as the potential of female faculty -- recruited and committed to teaching and research – can be realized.  Their professional goals need not be diminished to reflect the intrinsic constraints of their life and career circumstances. Further, TRANSFORM will enhance the future presence of female faculty by enabling the conditions for career satisfaction and growth. Both the Dual Career Services and the Leadership Developments will be available to the entire North West Pennsylvania regional academic and business community.