By Joe Garvey

According to data compiled by the American Association for Colleges of Teachers Association (AACTE), less than 10% of all faculty within higher education identify as African American, Latinx or Native American/Alaskan Native.

To help address this disparity, Old Dominion University’s Darden College of Education and Professional Studies is launching a Holmes Scholars program, which falls under the AACTE umbrella. The college is accepting applications for its first cohort at its Holmes Scholar Program Application site. The priority deadline for applications is Dec. 1, and the program will start with the spring 2024 semester.

The Holmes Program launched in 1991 with the primary goal of establishing equity, diversity and cultural competence in programs of higher education and PK-12 schools. Nearly 700 scholars have benefited from the program since its inception.

Shuntay Tarver, associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Services and director of ODU’s Holmes program, said Holmes Scholars will reap many benefits through mentorship, peer support and professional development opportunities the program provides.

“Oftentimes, at universities that strive to be inclusive but happen to be predominantly white institutions, there are just not as many students that are connected,” she said. “It’s really helpful and impactful to be connected to people who are in similar situations. So this is the program where we say, ‘Let’s connect with other doc students, not just at ODU, but nationally.”

Tarver said ODU’s initial cohort will consist of two or three second-year Ph.D. students who self-identify as racially and ethnically diverse and have completed 18 credit hours. They will receive a full tuition/fee waiver and $25,000 stipend funded by the Darden College. That money will allow students to fulfill program requirements that include travel to the annual AACTE national conference and the Holmes Summer Policy Institute and Day on the Hill.

“These are workshops that they have to go through to understand advocacy and policy with respect to the research and what that looks like in academic spaces,” Tarver said of the latter.

Furthermore, the Darden College will host at least two professional development conferences per semester designed for Holmes Scholars and offer mentoring from Holmes Faculty Scholars that will be open to all doctoral students.

“Addressing the underrepresentation of diverse voices in higher education is not just a goal, but a responsibility we take seriously in the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies,” said Tammi Dice, dean and professor of human services in the Darden College. “Our Holmes Scholars Program is a crucial step in this direction. By providing mentorship, peer support, and professional development opportunities, we aim to empower underrepresented doctoral students, equipping them with the skills and network they need to thrive in academia.”

The college will also benefit from being part of the Holmes program.

“For us, when we have job postings, we get to post through Holmes Scholars,” Tarver explained. “They have an entire Listserv of scholars across the country. But our students now also have access to those same Listservs. It makes our students more competitive. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.”‌

For inquiries about the program, contact