By Deborah J. Johnson, PhD

Now in its fourth year, the Diversity Research Network (DRN) is intended to support and be facilitative of faculty of color and diversity scholars and to elevate their work and networking where possible.  We want to increase awareness of and participation in our programs as well as network opportunities.  We are pleased to continue supporting DRN members and creating new spaces for faculty scholarship through connection and thoughtful resources/programming.


“MSU’s core values are quality, connectivity, and inclusion.
The DRN evolved in response to the voices of our faculty in terms of their needs
for professional and social support networks in order to
thrive at MSU in their disciplines and personally.’’

Paulette Granberry Russell
Senior Advisor to the President for Diversity and Director


Dr. Deborah JohnsonThrough the DRN, faculty of color and scholars engaged in diversity research are connected to scholarly communities and new interdisciplinary collaborations. These communities and collaboration advance the growth and visibility of our research across MSU and beyond. The DRN promotes MSU’s core value of diversity as excellence across all disciplines through the support and resources we offer.

The DRN grew out of findings from a qualitative research study on the work environment and experiences of underrepresented minority tenure system faculty at MSU. The study was led by Dr. Isis Settles, a former professor of psychology at MSU, and Paulette Granberry Russell, and sponsored by the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives and the MSU NSF ADVANCE grant. A small team (including Settles, Johnson & Garcia) worked to develop the structure of the DRN; with the support of the university, and after gaining input from faculty, the DRN was launched in fall 2016 with Deborah J. Johnson as its inaugural director.

Our major goals include:

  • Enhancing research productivity and grant writing of underrepresented faculty and diversity scholars
  • Increasing visibility of DRN faculty scholarship
  • Providing mentoring and networking opportunities
  • Linking graduate students to diverse scholars of colors
  • Existing as a collaborative research resource to surrounding communities


“I find that inspiration in writing and framing my research
often seems serendipitous, but in reality, it comes from intentionally
seeking out conversations that lead to inspiration.
The DRN has provided opportunities for those conversations
to take place with scholars around campus whose work,
while distal from mine, still has a common thread,
and discussing those threads provides me with insights
as well as renewed enthusiasm in my own scholarship.”

Ann Marie Ryan

The network seeks to enhance the accessibility of diversity scholars to one another, increasing interdisciplinary collaboration and the visibility of diversity research and scholarship among MSU’s faculty of color (inclusive of STEAM).

Over the past four years the DRN has been involved with: Formal Launch Reception (yearly), Researcher’s Workshops, and Building and Sustaining a Research Platform (Mentoring Panel). The DRN has hosted the Grants Panel Webinar for NSF and NIH Program Officer’s, Grants Panel Consultations (March), DRN Faculty Study Break, DRN Writer’s Mafungo (Retreat), and DRN Summer Stay Retreat.

Other significant resource developments:

  • Launch Awards Program (LAP) Small Grants
  • Development of DRN listserv
  • Development of DRN webpages with resources
  • Development of grant videos with the consultant, Dr. Tom Hollon
  • Workshops for collaboration and grant consulting
  • Searchable database
  • Support for campus-wide Faculty Recruitment
  • E-newsletter, The View from Here

In addition to these programs and resources, we offer a generative awards program for scholars: DRN Launch Awards Program. Email us for more information at