Rationale for Name
The proposed “North Star Collective” name for NEBHE’s regional faculty initiatives has several historical and contemporary influences. “North Star” pays homage to the fact that enslaved Africans and African Americans used the North Star in the night sky to guide them to freedom. The name is also a nod to The North Star, the antislavery newspaper published by African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Given NEBHE’s commitment to reparative justice, we believe it is important that higher education institutions acknowledge the ways in which they have benefitted directly or indirectly from slavery and the long legacy of white supremacy. We also believe that institutions can support the NEBHE NSC program as a way to repair the harm and potentially move forward to become a refuge for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) faculty in the ways that the “North” was once imagined in American history as a promised land. The term “collective” reflects our aim to establish a community of BIPOC faculty that are tied together by shared experiences as minoritized ethnoracial peoples in New England institutions. Historically and contemporarily, “collective” has been used by activist groups to promote the liberation, uplift, health and wellbeing, and overall care of BIPOC people. This collective will be established by and for BIPOC faculty, and will serve to support these goals as well.
The NEBHE North Star Collective fellowship program aims to provide a nourishing community of care, mentorship, and professional development for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) faculty in New England. The fellowship reflects the organization’s commitment to reparative justice as it seeks to address structural racism and institutional inequalities in the academy, as well as to repair the harm and trauma to BIPOC faculty created by toxic campus cultures. To that end, the fellowship aims to promote Pillar III “Nourish and Uplift” of BIPOC faculty providing a space for them to navigate the challenges they face in their academic careers that can hinder their professional advancement and are often detrimental to their health and wellbeing. The fellowship will support the recruitment, retention, and advancement/ tenure/ promotion of BIPOC faculty in New England colleges and universities through an annual retreat, a formal mentorship program, monthly workshops, and small research stipends. It also aims to foster a sense of solidarity and community among BIPOC faculty in the region to collectively support their holistic growth.
NEBHE is currently in the first phase of developing the North Star Collective, which includes extensive research and gathering feedback from across the region’s colleges and universities. In addition to identifying and nominating members to establish the North Star Advisory Board, the organization is looking to forge partnerships with existing mentorship programs that support BIPOC faculty such as the SREB’s Doctoral Scholars Program and the Faculty of Color Working Group.