Robin Phelps-Ward

The Clemson University Graduate School has appointed Robin Phelps-Ward as a faculty fellow.
Image Credit: Robin Phelps-Ward

Representatives from the Clemson University Graduate School have appointed Dr. Robin Phelps-Ward as a graduate school faculty fellow in the Eugene T. Moore School of Education Department of Educational and Organizational Leadership Development. Phelps-Ward was one of four appointed fellows, and the fellowship is the first of its kind in the graduate school.

This appointment will see Phelps-Ward participate as part of the graduate school’s leadership team, and it will also afford her funds and support for research. The 12-month fellowship will allow Phelps-Ward to work with other graduate school faculty fellows and share her own research and thoughts with fellows and the college leadership team. Phelps-Ward said she is honored to have been selected to pursue her research with the support of the college.

“I’m excited because this is such a great opportunity to learn about the graduate school,” Phelps-Ward said. “It confirms that the work I have planned truly aligns with the Clemson Forward plan, and I hope that my research does its small part to help achieve the university’s vision.”

Although Phelps-Ward has been appointed a faculty fellow of the graduate school, the focus of her work will extend well beyond that demographic. Her proposal for consideration to the fellowship included a detailed description of Clemson Link, a project she plans to spearhead that will provide action research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented backgrounds.

The research project would focus on underrepresented students who are prospective graduate students and those already in graduate school. According to Phelps-Ward, these students could be first generation college students or those from underrepresented races, genders and economic backgrounds. The research will explore student experiences and uncover needs as a means to foster cultural diversity in graduate education.

“Structures need to be in place that allow for these students to be successful,” Phelps-Ward said. “This research will discover and determine what those specific structures are and how we can implement them.”

Phelps-Ward’s appointment begins July 1, but she hopes to begin the process of recruiting 10 undergraduate students who will work with her on this research. These students will receive a $500 stipend.

Phelps-Ward said she hopes these students will form a community of research that will focus on the “pipeline” from undergraduate to graduate students. She wants these students’ voices to be heard through this research, as they may represent the very audience on which the research is focused.

“Institutions must listen to those voices, develop interventions and mobilize strategies to establish a sense of belonging and increase all students’ social capital,” Phelps-Ward said.