OT department wins Bridge to the Faculty fellowship

The Department of Occupational Therapy was awarded a fellowship for the new Bridge to the Faculty program, established to increase diversity among UIC faculty.

The fellowship, awarded by the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity, provides three years of funding for a Black or Latinx scholar—two years as a postdoctoral fellow, then one year as a tenure-track junior faculty member.

The new candidate will join the department no later than August 2021.

“We are really thrilled to be selected for the UIC Bridge to the Faculty program,” said Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, professor and head of occupational therapy.

“This initiative is aligned with our strong commitment to diversify the field of occupational therapy and expose students to exceptional Black and Latinx mentors and models.”

The OT department’s application was among 20 selected for the program’s second year by a campuswide committee of eight faculty and administrators. Departments selected for the fellowship conduct a competitive job search to fill the position, with input from the Bridge to Faculty program.

The inaugural cohort of fellows are working in public administration, biological sciences, French and Francophone studies, museum and exhibition studies, philosophy, mathematics, statistics and computer science, anthropology, educational psychology and pharmaceutical sciences.

The OT department is the first in AHS to receive a Bridge to Faculty fellowship.

“Occupational Therapy is mostly a White profession—82% of all OT faculty are White. Now we have an opportunity to contribute to the diversity of the profession,” Suarez-Balcazar said.