Student Belonging Faculty Incentive Program

Applications are now open for the 2024 Student Belonging Faculty Incentive Program. Application deadline has been extended through April 28th at 11:59pm

If you have received funding for the Regional Campus Belonging Champions Community of Transformation or the 2023 UTC Student Belonging Faculty Incentive Program, you are not eligible to apply. 

Apply for UTC Student Belonging Faculty Incentive Program

Student Belonging Faculty Incentive Program

    The University Teaching Council is pleased to offer grants of  $300 for participating in specific activities related to creating an equity-focused syllabus that will support students’ sense of belonging at Kent State University. Promoting a sense of belonging aids in student achievement, performance, and well-being in the classroom. Our faculty want to deliver student experiences that lead to student success, and at the same time faculty feel increased bandwidth demands post pandemic. Rewarding faculty for revising classes over the summer takes advantage of a moment when they are already reviewing courses for fall rollout, and focuses them on revising specifically based on a student experience perspective. The syllabus itself is an important teaching and learning tool for equity and inclusion.2 The faculty involved in this syllabus revision project will jump start further course innovations by sharing the results of their efforts with colleagues.

               For the fall 2024 semester, participating faculty will revise a course syllabus to change elements such as language choices, course policies, and more, based on techniques proven to increase equity, inclusion, and belonging for students.1 Faculty members will meet once in the summer for collaboration and consultation on their proposed course revisions and ongoing strategies to strengthen student belonging throughout the semester.  The faculty member will assess students’ experiences by administering an ASCEND survey at multiples during the semester. At mid semester, the faculty member will meet with their cohort to discuss the results of surveys and share resources. The faculty member will agree to share what they have learned with others in the university community.

In exchange for studying syllabus changes that affect the student experience, implementing changes to their course syllabus, assessing the impact of the changes, agreeing to share their work as a model, and to share their results with other faculty, the UTC will provide a $300 stipend.

Project Timeline

Sunday, April 21, 11:59 pm: deadline for faculty to apply for the program.

  • Early May:  participants are selected and notified.
  • Prior to the Summer Workshop in June or July- Faculty members will complete the online module and syllabus review guide for instructors found at the Student Experience Project First Day Toolkit Website and use this information to revise a course syllabus.
  • Summer Workshop:  Wednesday, June 26, 10-AM-12PM or Wednesday, July 10, 10AM-12PM: remote faculty meeting for collaboration and consultation on the revised syllabi. Draft syllabus due one week before the chosen summer workshop.
  • Monday, August 21: courses under the new syllabi begin.
  • Thursday, September 26, 11:30AM-1PM or Friday, September 27th, 9:00-10:30AM: cohort meets to discuss early findings, explore additional belonging strategies/resources

Why Belonging Matters in Higher Education

     Belonging is a key component in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education.  Belonging is based on valuing different elements and individuals that make up the whole in promoting a comfortable learning environment based on a shared sense of community that is inclusive, fair, and cooperative.  Belonging helps lessen feelings of social isolation and non-acceptance among students, especially those from underrepresented populations, in the education experience.  Creating a sense of community and affinity among students ignites reciprocity and a “growth mindset” for personal academic, and professional advancement. 
     Institutional data and other evidence-based studies recognize the tangible and intangible benefits of belonging in promoting equity, learning efficacy, and student success. The Student Experience Project notes that, “feeling valued and connected to others in one’s learning community (i.e., having a sense of social belonging) is positively associated with student well-being, academic engagement, and performance.”  Likewise, Nunn (2021) suggests a strong sense of belonging has a significant impact on student success and wellbeing: “Our own institutional data tells us that a key reason that students consider leaving Kent State is that they lack a sense of belonging.”
     Kent State University’s Strategic Roadmap offers a student-centered approach to learning that includes academic excellence, diversity, equity, and community engagement rooted in an ethic of care and student empowerment. This is important in cultivating a sense of belonging whereby members seek to “build an inclusive community where everyone knows that they are valued. ”

Inaugural UTC Student Belonging Faculty Incentive Program Participants

Michelle Bagwell, Stark

Christie Bartholomew, Trumbull

Judy Benjamin, Kent

Gargi Bhaduri, KentLoubna Bilali, KentMichelle Burton, Kent
Matthew Butler, AshtabulaNing-Kuan Chuang, KentElizabeth Devore, Ashtabula
Qunxing Ding, East LiverpoolDoug Ellison, KentAbbey Eng, Kent
Arron Foster, StarkClaudia Gomez, StarkElizabeth Graham, Kent

Leslie Heaphy, Stark

Suzanne Holt, Kent

Elaine Hsiao, Kent

Julia Huyck, Kent

Xiang Lian, Kent

Maria Niza Licuanan-Galela, Trumbull

Pam Lieske, Trumbull

Adam Lockwood, Kent

Shelley Marshall, Ashtabula

Karen Mascolo, Kent

Molly Mokros, Geauga

Xiaozhen Mou, Kent

Deepraj Mukherjee, Stark

Ellen Mulqueeny, Kent

Mary Russell, Trumbull

Astrid Sambolín Morales, Kent

Rekha Sharma, Kent

Mason Shuman, Stark

Kuldeep Singh, Kent

Michelle Souza, Kent

Lindsay Starkey, Kent

Melanie Tabak, Stark

Janine Tiffe, Kent

Tina Saunders, Kent

Joseph Underwood, Kent

Robin Vande Zande, Kent

Joe Vanfossen, Tuscarawas

Jihyun Vick, Kent

E. Sue Wamsley, Salem

Haiyan Zhu, East Liverpool

  1. Ryan, K., Boucher, K., Logel, C., & Murphy, M. (2022). The Classroom Practices Library. Syllabus Review Guide.”  College Transition Collaborative. Student Experience Project. Retrieved 2/16/22 from
  2. Lightner, J, Marcinkiewicz, J. (2022). Preparing to Teach - Successful Syllabi. Kent State University Center for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved 2/16/22 from