By Shannon Sigafoos

Just prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent shutdown of college campuses across the country, Angela Bell, assistant professor of psychology, organized (along with Morgan Jerald, assistant professor of psychology at Macalester College, and Kelci Harris, assistant professor of psychology at University of Victoria) a retreat to New Orleans to promote the retention of underrepresented, pre-tenure faculty of color in the academic pipeline.

Bell, an active member of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), received a Community Catalyst Grant from SPSP and applied for funding through Lafayette’s Diversity Initiative Grant that funded housing and meeting space.

Flourish, a SPSP retreat for pre-tenure social/personality psychologists of color, took place in New Orleans the first week of March. The retreat included a mentoring lunch with distinguished guest Simine Vazire.

The retreat drew 13 diverse faculty members from across the country and included a mentoring lunch with Simine Vazire, psychology professor at UC Davis, and sessions on academic identity, research, and money management. Guests also attended a joint dinner with the Black Personality and Social Psychology (BlaSPR) Retreat, where they shared experiences with BlaSPR graduate students and postdocs on their expertise, including the job market and expectations for working at teaching and/or research-centered institutions.

“The [Diversity Initiative] grant was originally written to help support diversity initiatives in the classroom, but I applied because I hoped it would also support things I’m doing outside of the classroom and that it would foster research connections and help bring speakers to campus,” Bell explains. “The idea behind this retreat was to build a community that is supportive of early career faculty and to create a pipeline of mentors.” 

The group has kept in touch since attending the retreat, utilizing the collaboration hub Slack to group chat and build on creating resources to foster research productivity and continued professional development. In a follow-up survey, attendees indicated they appreciated the depth of community building and that the retreat provided them the opportunity to learn new things about themselves and other participants.


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