Thursday, January 4, 2024

UTSA professor selected for prestigious Ford Foundation fellowship

UTSA professor selected for prestigious Ford Foundation fellowship

MARCH 14, 2023 — UTSA professor Langston Clark has been selected as a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow for the 2022-2023 academic year. Clark, an associate professor in the College of Education and Human Development (COEHD), is one of 25 scholars selected for the prestigious one-year program.

The Ford Foundation Fellowship Program, offered through the National Academy of Sciences, seeks to bring faculty from various backgrounds to American colleges and universities. Fellowships are made at the predoctoral, dissertation and postdoctoral levels to “students who demonstrate academic excellence, a commitment to pluralism and a strong interest in teaching and research,” according to the foundation’s website.

Launched in 1962, the program has become one of the U.S.’s most prestigious and successful fellowship initiatives.

“I’m excited by what it all means for Clark personally and professionally but also for what COEHD and the entire academic community at UTSA stands to gain.”

“Ford is among the most highly selective and prestigious programs for fellowships,” said COEHD Dean Mario Torres. “What stands out for me about this program is the unequivocal commitment to advancing scholars who have a deep commitment to addressing the needs of underserved communities, leveraging their personal experience and academic expertise to improve the lives of others.

“I’m excited by what it all means for Clark personally and professionally but also for what COEHD and the entire academic community at UTSA stands to gain. It’s a tremendous opportunity and honor for Clark and for us, as well,” Torres added.

Clark is at Huston-Tillotson University, a historically Black college in Austin, where he is being mentored by Carlos Cervantes, chair of Huston-Tillotson’s Kinesiology Department, as he completes research that will culminate in a book about teacher education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In addition, Ford Fellows also have opportunities for professional development.

“You get put into a community of folks who are current fellows and former fellows, so it really expands your network, your social capital and your ability to collaborate with others to do research,” Clark said.

The fellowship is extremely competitive, as only about 5% of Ford Foundation Fellowship applicants are named fellows, according to the National Academies website. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine administers the program on behalf of the Ford Foundation.

Clark’s research focuses on what it means to be a Black male teacher education student at Minority Serving Institutions, which include HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions.

The COEHD faculty are already working to recruit more men of color into the teaching profession, and Clark’s research is building upon that work to better understand how teacher education programs can better support these students in college but also through their first two years of teaching. Clark said it’s important to recognize students as both college students and teacher education students and that supports will overlap for students.

“I hope that what we’re building at the college is something that extends into the community and also benefits the community long-term as we seek to shore up this teacher pipeline in San Antonio,” he said.

Clark said many men might not realize the benefits teaching can bring to their lives. In the 2021-2022 school year, about 24% of teachers in Texas were men and 11% were Black, according to data from the Texas Education Agency.

“Men can have a meaningful work life and purpose as teachers, and I think if more men knew the value, they could get out of being someone who pours into the next generation of people as a career, they would not dismiss teaching as a profession,” he said. “We sometimes only look at the benefits to the kids who will have these male role models, but I think the teacher benefits from being in a classroom with these kids, too.”

Additionally, it’s important for students to see different men as professionals and role models who are invested in their communities, Clark said. It not only benefits the students but the overall community, as well.

Learn more about the Ford Foundation Fellowship Programs
Read more about the research being done in the College of Education and Human Development

One untapped resource for recruiting men into the classroom is athletics, Clark said. He sees potential in partnering with the athletics department to provide a pathway for student athletes to become teachers. Many already want to coach, and to coach in K-12 schools, coaches have to work as teachers.

“We can help them fulfill their dreams but also make a difference in the classroom,” he said.

Brooke Crum

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

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