IDEAL-N: Institutions Developing Excellence in Academic Leadership-National


The purpose of IDEAL-N is to seed and institutionalize gender equity transformation at leading research universities by creating a learning community of academic leaders that is empowered to develop and leverage knowledge, skills, resources and networks to transform university cultures and enhance diversity and inclusion.


  • Create a learning community of academic leaders through a leadership enhancement program;

  • Catalyze customized institutional transformation at partner institutions through annual change initiatives;

  • Assemble the senior leadership of partner universities annually to share best practices, exchange national institutional research, polices and practices, and discuss IDEAL-N change initiatives; and

  • Develop a Gender Equity Index.


With a new three-year, $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advance Program, Case Western Reserve University will lead an effort to develop, share and evaluate approaches and policies that lead to more women in full-tenured professorships in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

The new round of funding builds on a consortium of northern Ohio institutions created six years ago in a program called Institutions Developing Excellence in Academic Leadership (IDEAL).

IDEAL was a three-year, nearly $1 million grant NSF awarded in 2009 to Case Western Reserve and five other northern Ohio universities to develop and share approaches to achieving gender and minority equity in STEM positions. The other institutions include: Bowling Green State University, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, University of Akron, the and University of Toledo.

NSF Advance funding for IDEAL-National (IDEAL-N) expands the effort to four institutions in western Pennsylvania: Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, Indiana University and University of Pittsburgh.

IDEAL adapted and disseminated the successful academic leadership development and institutional transformation methods developed by CWRU during its five-year NSF-ADVANCE Institutional Transformation initiative, Academic Careers in Engineering and Science (ACES).

Evaluation results indicate the positive value derived from the project’s three components: the leadership development program, the annual institutional change projects, and the plenary conference. The NSF IDEAL grant achieved the key objectives set forth in the original proposal to the National Science Foundation.

NSF logo

ADVANCE: Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women 
in Academic Science and Engineering Careers

“The goal of the NSF-ADVANCE program is to develop systemic approaches to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers, thereby contributing to the development of a more diverse science and engineering workforce. Creative strategies to realize this goal are sought from women and men. Members of underrepresented minority groups and individuals with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply. Proposals that address the participation and advancement of women with disabilities and of women from underrepresented minority groups are encouraged. ”