Black Faculty Association

About the Black Faculty Association

Created to give Black professors a voice and to increase visibility, the Black Faculty Association (BFA) developed as a faculty-led grass roots movement. Spearheaded by #BlackInTheIvory and the tragic death of George Floyd, Black faculty gathered in solidarity asking what steps should we take. From that initial meeting attended by less than fifteen, a decision emerged to engage others in the desire to form the BFA. In a true grass-roots style, the movement grew to include every Black faculty at FIU. With this idea of cohesiveness and unity, the BFA operates in an organizational structure system honoring African leadership styles.

The BFA utilizes a cross-functional organizational structure, or matrix model that keeps flatness as a critical factor. Leaders interact with one another and can influence decisions and actions throughout the organization. The purpose of flatness is to minimize strict hierarchical procedures for communication and decision-making. Members can communicate and bring ideas to leaders without a formal outline to follow.

Specifically, the BFA categorizes and links leadership roles to functioning. In academia there is an emphasis on the traditional components of research, teaching, and service. The BFA includes these established aspects, as well as creating an additional one: professional development and mentoring. Leadership roles in BFA align with these functions. For example, we have a director for research, teaching, service, professional development and mentoring, and an overall director who serves to coordinate the vision and mission.

BFA Faculty Highlights: Dr. Donna “Aza” Weir-Soley

headshot of donna weir soley

This year, Dr. Donna “Aza” Weir-Soley has been named the fourth Butler Waugh Fellow. This two-year commitment includes mentoring two undergraduate Butler Waugh Scholars, and organizing and hosting the endowed Butler Waugh lecture in the Spring term. FIU alumna and poet Laureate of Alabama, Ms. Ashley Jones, is our invited speaker for this year’s lecture which will take place on March 30th at MMC. Dr. Weir-Soley also became the President of the Association for Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars in August of 2021.

Contact the BFA for information on how to join!

Upcoming BFA Events

the stuggle is real how to navigate service- click for full flyer
Join Us! Wednesday, March 30th,2022 6:00 PM -8:00PM

BFA Directors

Isaac Burt

Isaac Burt

BFA Director & Interim Director of Research

Assoc. Professor, Counseling Recreation and School Psychology

Donna "Aza" Weir-Soley

Donna "Aza" Weir-Soley

Director of Professional Development and Mentoring

Assoc. Professor, English

Maria Reid

Maria Reid

Director of Service

Asst. Teaching Professor, Psychology

Agatha Caraballo

Agatha Caraballo

Director of Teaching

Assoc. Teaching Professor, Public Policy and Administration

Mission

The Black Faculty Association (BFA) of Florida International University (FIU) is an organization that exists to promote unity, increase productivity, and enrich the morale among Black faculty. The BFA seeks to provide a greater awareness and understanding to FIU of the systemic factors impacting Black faculty.

Through comprehending these dynamics, the mission is to establish within FIU an institutional culture that provides conflict resolution and support to Black faculty seeking an inclusive, objective, and conducive work environment.

Vision

Inspire, lead, and provide a voice to current and future Black scholars at FIU and create the next generation of Black excellence and governance. Through this leadership, the BFA sets the standard on how an innovative urban, multicultural Research 1/Very High research university located in a multi-lingual setting can impact the university setting, local community, state, and nation; thus, making FIU a first-choice destination for esteemed Black academics from around the world.

About the BFA Directors and their responsibilities

Isaac Burt, Director & Interim Director of Research

Isaac Burt CV

Dr. Burt is an Associate Professor who received his Ph.D. from the University of Central Florida in Counselor Education. He is a member of the American Counseling Association (ACA), as well as the Association for Counseling and Supervision (ACES), Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD), Association of Humanistic Counseling (AHC), Association for Specialists in Group Work (ASGW), and Chi Sigma Iota (CSI). He has dedicated his career to multiculturalism. Dr. Burt has served the counseling profession in several capacities, such as being a member of the membership committee for AMCD, member of the executive board for AMCD, chair of the strategic planning committee for AMCD, and Vice President. Dr. Burt is also an associate editor of the premier journal for multiculturalism in counseling, the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development (JMCD), and editorial board member on the premier journal for group counseling, the Journal for Specialists in Group Work (JSGW).

Additionally, Dr. Burt has eighteen years’ experience in schools, mental health agencies, and community centers, which included counseling individuals, couples and families from the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America, and Bosnia, as well as multicultural populations born in the United States, specifically Black/African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and LGQBT. He has an interest in neuroscience and racism/discrimination, flow state and optimal experience, social justice for historically marginalized populations, and culturally sensitive treatments.

Dr. Burt has numerous publications that explore how counselor educators and counselors alike should rethink policies and approaches when providing therapy to multicultural populations. Dr. Burt has twenty-five peer-reviewed publications, with eighteen as first author. His publications are in the following flagship/top tier journals in counselor education: the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, the Journal of Mental Health Counseling, the Journal for Specialists in Group Work, The Professional Counselor, the Journal for Creativity in Mental Health, the Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Professional School Counselor, and The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families. Dr. Burt also has over fifty presentations on the international and national level.

Dr. Burt also received the Association for Specialists in Group Work’s (ASGW) 2018 research article of the year award. The ASGW presented Dr. Burt with the award at the annual American Counseling Association (ACA) conference on March 28, 2019. The article titled, “Leadership-driven anger management groups: Do they really work,” published in the JSGW, investigated a current trend in anger-management groups labeled as leadership development.

 

Expected Responsibilities and Duties of the BFA Director

This position is the overall director and serves as a liaison to FIU administration, as well as coordinates meetings and assists in guiding the vision and aim of the BFA.

(1). Overall director and serves as a liaison between FIU administration and BFA constituents (2). Coordinates and facilitates meetings

(3). Assists in guiding the vision and mission of the BFA

(4). Serves as spokesperson for the BFA

(5). Settles disputes

(6). Help provide leadership in the form of training, mentoring, advocacy movements

(7). Helps coordinates BFA-related events (i.e., awards ceremony)

(8). Provides written documents such as BFA statements

(9). Collaborates with all BFA Directors

(10). Helps to develop innovative strategies to increase presence and visibility of BFA

(11). Be available to stand in for any of the other directors as requested/needed

(12). Attend all meetings and communicate to BFA updates during those meetings

 

 

Expected Responsibilities and Duties of the Director of Research

This position is the research team director, and will regularly provide correspondence regarding research opportunities and grant writing, as well as serving as a liaison to other FIU research bodies (e.g., ORED).

(1). Create repository highlighting faculty’s research interests and intellectual pursuits

(2). Develop, implement, and facilitate research writing teams

(3). Identify cross-discipline connections and link those faculty together

(4). Liaison between BFA and other FIU offices (i.e., Office of Research and Economic Development/ORED)

(5). Help create programs to expand faculty’s research and grant networks

(6). Construct and sustain a system indicating faculty’s grant submissions and approvals

(7). Maintain database of grant foundations receptive toward Black scholarly work

(8). Maintain database of academic journals receptive towards Black scholarly work

(9). Create research and grant infrastructure for faculty

(10). Connect students (undergraduate/graduate) to faculty with similar research interests 

(11). Be available to stand in for any of the other directors as requested/needed

(12). Attend all meetings and communicate to BFA updates during those meetings

Maria Reid, Director of Service

Maria Reid CV

Dr. Maria Reid holds degrees in Biochemistry, Environmental Engineering, and Psychology, from Manhattan College, Lehman College, and Florida International University. She is currently an Assistant Teaching Professor of Psychology at Florida International University. She is the chair of a Faculty-Peer teaching committee and a Center for the Advancement of Teaching Fellow. Her current research in developmental psychology centers around fatherhood, marital relationships as well as teaching and learning. Dr. Reid spends much of her time mentoring graduate and undergraduate students and has received honors and awards for teaching and student engagements.

Expected Responsibilities and Duties of the Director of Service

This position is the service team director, and will advocate for BFA members and inform FIU administration on the excessive service obligations placed on Black faculty that stifle scholastic productivity.

(1). Assess the climate, expectations, and needs of service assignments in various colleges, schools, and departments across the university that impact Black Faculty (i.e., selection committees)

(2). Develop and maintain systems of accountability

(3). Be a liaison with FIU offices (e.g., Office of Faculty Leadership and Success) to promote equity and diversity in faculty service assignments

(4). Provide recommendations to diversity representatives in the various colleges and departments

(5). Be a liaison and support mechanism between the BFA and administration (Deans and Chairs) to disseminate information and recommendations

(6). Create and maintain a database of service awards and honors available for BFA members

(7). Support faculty in award applications

(8). Partner with FIU administrators and offices to ensure awardees and nominees receive broadcasting within the university community

(9). In conjunction with the Director of Outreach and partnerships, create partnerships with representatives in the community and other minority institutions (i.e. HBCUs) within the state of Florida to provide community and professional opportunities for BFA members

(10). Inform BFA committee of updates at scheduled meetings

(11). Be available to stand in for any of the other directors as requested/needed

(12). Attend all meetings and communicate to BFA updates during those meetings

Agatha Caraballo, Director of Teaching

Agatha Caraballo CV

Dr. Agatha Caraballo is an Associate Teaching Professor and the Assistant Chair for the Department of Public Policy and Administration at Florida International University (FIU), as well as the Director of the undergraduate Certificate in Leadership Studies. She is the Immediate Past Chair and former Treasurer of the national Section for Women in Public Administration (SWPA) for the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), as well as a longtime member of the Board of Directors for the ASPA South Florida Chapter and past chapter president. In 2014, she was appointed as the inaugural Director of the Bachelor of Public Administration program at FIU, and the following year she helped launch a fully online program option that BestColleges.com ranked #1 in the nation in 2018 and 2019.  

A servant leader, she is actively engaged in several  FIU’s recent Equity Action Initiative, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration and Scholarship Subcommittee, the FIU Faculty Senate as an Alternate and the FIU Undergraduate Programs Council, as well as an elected Senator for the United Faculty of Florida at Florida International University (UFF-FIU). She is honored to be the recipient of several local and national awards for her teaching, leadership, and service. A proud Golden Panther, she earned both her Bachelor of Science in Communication and Ph.D. in Public Affairs degrees from Florida International University. Dr. Caraballo and her husband Leonel are the proud parents of two children. 

Expected Responsibilities and Duties of the Director of Teaching

This position is the teaching team director, and will be the liaison to BFA members and other FIU bodies on teaching practices and other cultural factors that impact Black faculty when instructing students (i.e., racial biases).

(1). Assess the climate, expectations, and needs of teaching assignments in various colleges schools, and departments

(2). Communicate with department heads and faculty to disseminate information, opportunities, and recommendations of the BFA

(3). Advocate for advancement and training in multiple modalities: F2F, online, remote, and hybrid in collaboration with CAT, FIU Online, etc.

(4). Promote equity and diversity in faculty course assignments by consulting with department heads, for alignment with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and applicable university and school policies

(5). Support adjunct and contingent faculty by providing opportunities for professional development and mentoring with full-time faculty

(6). Facilitate the recruitment and hiring of underrepresented populations into teaching positions at all levels

(7). Be a liaison between the BFA and FIU offices (e.g., Center for the Advancement of Teaching)

(8). Provide faculty with tips, strategies, and methods on teaching

(9). Inform faculty and administration on how racial biases impact teaching evaluations

(10). Facilitate workshops for doctoral students interested in teaching

(11). Be available to stand in for any of the other directors as requested/needed

(12). Attend all meetings and communicate to BFA updates during those meetings

 

Donna "Aza" Weir-Soley, Director of Professional Development and Mentoring

Donna “Aza” Weir-Soley CV

Dr. Donna Aza Weir-Soley was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica, and migrated to the United States at the age of 17. She attended high school in both Jamaica and New York but received her diploma from Andrew Jackson High School in Queens, New York. While an undergraduate at the City University of New York at Hunter College, Weir-Soley was in the first cohort of students of color across the United States to win a Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship in 1988. That fellowship allowed her to study at the prestigious Oxford University in the summer of 1989 (Oxford Center for African Studies, Jesus College) where she took courses with Professors Anthony Appiah, Houston Baker, Carole Boyce-Davies, Geneva Smitherman, Valerie Smith, and many other notable scholars in the field she would later choose to make her own. She graduated summa cum laude from Hunter College in 1990 and won the Andrew Mellon Graduate Fellowship in the Humanities to attend the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Weir-Soley graduated from U.C. Berkeley with an MA in English (special emphasis in Creative Writing) in 1993, and a Ph.D. in English Literary Studies in 2000.   

Dr. Weir-Soley also won a Mellon Travel and Research/Dissertation grant to conduct fieldwork in Jamaica on her dissertation in 2000.  In 2004-2005, she was awarded the Mellon/Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship to complete her scholarly work, Eroticism Spirituality and Resistance in Black Women’s Writings (University Press of Florida, 2009). Weir-Soley is a frequent invited speaker at the annual Woodrow Wilson Foundation Career Enhancement Fellowship Conference where she mentors new Woodrow Wilson Fellows (junior faculty) on balancing work and life in academia. She is co-editor (with Opal Palmer Adisa) of the anthology Caribbean Erotic (Peepal Tree Press, 2010), and single author of two books of poetry: First Rain (full length, Peepal Tree Press, 2006) and The Woman Who Knew (chapbook, Finishing Line Press, 2016).  Dr. Weir-Soley was unanimously elected Vice President of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars in 2018. She is currently an associate professor of English, and an affiliate faculty member in African & African Diaspora Studies, Women’s Studies, and the Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University.  In April 2019, she became the coordinator of the Mellon-funded Hispanic Serving Institutions Pathways to the Professoriate Fellowship at FIU and served until the fellowship ended in December 2020.

Expected Responsibilities and Duties of the Director of Professional Development and Mentoring

This position is the professional development and mentoring team director and will monitor membership, recruit members, and provide direction for mentoring Black undergraduate, graduate, and faculty.

(1). Monitor and evaluate membership for growth and stability

(2). Report on positive and negative fluctuations in membership

(3). Keep record of undergraduate and graduate students associated with the BFA

(4). Create strategic initiatives to grow BFA membership

(5). Create strategic initiatives to develop professional development (i.e., seminars, workshops)

(6). Provide direction for mentoring undergraduate/graduate students, and faculty members

(7). Work in coordination with other FIU organizations (i.e., Office for Faculty Success; Office

to Advance Women, Equity, and Diversity)

(8). Help in creating pipelines for faculty leadership at FIU

(9). Maintain repository on universities that offer incentives for graduate students and/or are

established as first-choice destinations for Black faculty

(10). Actively promote the BFA and recruit members (faculty)

(11). Be available to stand in for any of the other directors as requested/needed

(12). Attend all meetings and communicate to BFA updates during those meetings

Immediate Goals

Impact Students (undergraduate and graduate)

To improve equitable and broad assess to higher education, this proposal seeks to develop a “HBCU Day” with colleges and universities in the state for them to come and visit FIU. The aim is to foster a bi-directional partnership with HBCUs to build relationships and recruit Black graduate students and create a pipeline for Black doctoral students to look at FIU as a work destination.

Impact Faculty

To accelerate the demographics of the academy, the BFA will aim is to create an infrastructure for increased collaboration between FIU offices and Black faculty. This organization would have a tri-fold purpose: (1). Develop pipeline for cross-discipline grant opportunities among Black faculty;(2). Expand Black faculty’s research and teaching networks by introducing faculty to others with similar intellectual pursuits; (3). Increase Black faculty’s visible presence in leadership roles, institutional direction, and strategic planning.

Impact Institutional Climate and Culture

To elevate bold ideas that support the generation of just societies in academia, the BFA will hold enhanced workshops, seminars, and teaching sessions independently and in collaboration with other entities with students, faculty, staff, and administration. The purpose of these training programs is to produce positive significant changes in empathy and understanding within the university that can assist in transforming the culture of the academy by reducing racism, discrimination, and sexism.

Achievements

Formed and filled Leadership Positions and invited faculty to join program committees.

Professional development, service, research and teaching.

Established a social media presence

@FIUBlackFaculty and webpage.

Professional Development

Hosted workshops for faculty in collaboration with FIU partners, i.e, AWED, CAT, UFF-FIU, and the Ferre Institute.

  • March/April (TBD): Tenure and Promotion Workshop (A practical, hands-on workshop utilizing tips taken from experiences of faculty)
  • April 8 (Tentative): How to turn your dissertation into a book workshop (Collaboration with the Association for Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars
  • April (TBD): Strengthening Black Solidarity Series
  • Course Preparation and Syllabi Workshop via Zoom on August 20: This workshop offered peer review/teaching evaluation opportunities to promote faculty inquiry in teaching practices. The event focused on facilitating self-reflection into practices that increase equitable teaching practices. This workshop was a collaboration with AADS, CAT, UFF-FIU, DEI and AWED.
  • Smart Service: Navigating the Pitfalls of Service for Black Faculty Workshop on October 26: This workshop focused on engaging faculty with discussion pertaining to Service assignments. The seminar emphasized being intentional about time, commitments and finding the right balance for promotion and mental well-being.
  • Writing Retreat in partnership with the Association for Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars on October 29: Interactive writing workshop to promote and encourage literary and academic writing for Caribbean women writers. This workshop was in collaboration with AADS and the Ferré Institute.
  • Panel on “Black Male Leadership in the Academy” on December 1: The second part of a discussion focusing on leadership and professional development featuring leaders from FIU College of Arts, Science and Education, College of Nursing, Broward County Public Schools, and Florida Memorial University (FMU). This event was in collaboration with AWED.
  • Advertised relevant programming and opportunities via the listserv, for example:
    • Faculty promotions and accomplishments, grant and collaborative opportunities
    • Processing the Verdict: A Safe Space on November 23
    • FIU Belonging Survey
    • Albert E. Dotson Sr. Pipeline Program for Least Represented in Medicine
    • Black Food Festival survey
    • 13th Annual Chris Gray Memorial Lecture
  • Submitted the following grant applications:
    • DISRUPT Pitch Competition from the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (CUSU)/Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU)
    • Joining Underrepresented Minority Populations to STEM-based careers to the National Institute of Health
    • FIU Research Opportunity SEED Fund
  • Annual Evaluation Workshop for Faculty on April 20: This interactive workshop focused on assisting faculty with completing their annual evaluation for the departmental and panther180 submission. This event was in collaboration with CAT and AADS.
  • Black Leadership at FIU Panel Discussion on March 19: This workshop held a discussion on leadership and professional development featuring leaders from FIU College of Arts, Science and Education, School of International and Public Affairs and Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. This event was in collaboration with AWED.
  • BFA University-Wide Discussion on February 17
  • BFA and AWED Mixer Planning Session on February 19
  • BFA and AWED Solidarity Mixer on February 24: Held the third annual networking mixer specifically for Black faculty, administrators, and doctoral students. Over 50 faculty and doctoral students come together for engaging in activities that promoted solidarity. This event was co-hosted with AWED.