Douglas Hoston Jr., a completion coach in the Student Leadership and Engagement Office (SLE), has been selected as a 2021–2023 fellow at Buffalo State College through the State University of New York’s (SUNY) Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Growth (PRODiG) initiative.
A graduate of the doctoral program in curriculum, instruction, and the science of learning at the University at Buffalo, Hoston will teach courses in the Social and Psychological Foundations of Education and Adult Education Department at Buffalo State for the next two academic years.
“I’m elated to receive this fellowship because its positioning opens doors for individuals like me,” Hoston said. “It’s a needed opportunity to develop as professionals in ways that we don’t always get. Some of the systemic barriers are lifted by a program that acknowledges those barriers; it is refreshing.”
The 2021–2023 PRODiG fellowship class is composed of 10 postdoctoral or advanced graduate students who will serve as visiting instructors across SUNY campuses.
In his announcement of this year’s fellows, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras noted that SUNY needs to do more to attract and retain top faculty who mirror the increasing diversity within the student population.
“We must not simply pay lip service to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Malatras said. “We must continue to take meaningful action. Creating a pipeline for talented underrepresented graduate students and postdocs to have a chance to teach and conduct research under our PRODiG fellowship will go a long way toward starting to close the equity gaps.”
Hoston joined Buffalo State in 2019 as a retention specialist with SLE. Buffalo State Provost James Mayrose and School of Education Dean Wendy Paterson nominated Hoston for the fellowship after he expressed interest in advancing his career as a faculty member. Paterson said the PRODiG program was the logical answer.
“The imbalance between the majority of teachers’ racial and cultural backgrounds and those of the urban students and families whom they serve has long been a concern of the teaching profession,” Paterson said. “In the School of Education, we’ve made redressing this imbalance one of our highest priorities. One of the ways we hope to do that is to employ outstanding faculty from many races and cultural backgrounds who will be both role models and coaches for teacher candidates.
“Dr. Hoston brings an impressive résumé of recruiting students of color into the STEM fields, an expertise and interest in urban education, and an eclectic mix of experience in mentoring and supporting students of all ages to attain success.”
Fellows from the 2020–2022 class who are wrapping up their fellowships this academic year include Selenid Gonzalez-Frey, who has taught two undergraduate courses and one graduate course within the Elementary Education, Literacy, and Educational Leadership Department. She earned a doctorate in educational psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City and has two published articles in peer-reviewed journals.
“Even though I joined the department during COVID, when so much was online and remote, I was not only welcomed by faculty members and administrators, but also encouraged to take ownership of my courses and my work,” Gonzalez-Frey said. “I’ve been mentored on ways to continue my research and ways to get involved in both the academic community and the local community.”
New hires of underrepresented minorities are up more than 40 percent year over year, attributable in large part to the PRODiG initiative, which former SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson spearheaded at the beginning of 2019. Each fellow is supported through mentoring, networking, and grants to foster his or her success and continued advancement. Candidates may apply from any higher education institution.
The goal is for SUNY campuses to recruit and retain up to 1,000 early to mid-career faculty members from underrepresented groups over the next decade. Buffalo State was the first campus to receive funding for a cluster hire of four tenure-track faculty members in fall 2019.
“We were thrilled to be able to support four of the first PRODiG hires,” said Buffalo State College President Katherine Conway-Turner. “And we are equally excited to welcome two outstanding fellows as visiting faculty members. Having high-quality faculty on our campus who are promoting scholarship and connecting with students fits perfectly with Buffalo State’s continued commitment to diversity and supporting our vibrant and multicultural student body.”
After her fellowship wraps up, Gonzalez-Frey said, she plans to continue her research on early reading acquisition as well as work with the Latino community in Buffalo on education-based programs.
“I aspire to work in a tenure-track academic position,” she said. “Hopefully at Buffalo State, because I really love it so much.”
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