Jackson State’s program of visibility through International Group Travel leverages its international faculty’s connections to give its U.S.-born faculty rich international experiences. Each year, a group of faculty travels to several institutions with which Jackson State has established connections but where faculty in STEM disciplines have not yet been engaged. In 2011, a group traveled to India and visited four cities and seven institutions. Faculty gave research presentations, and a number of research collaborations were begun. In 2012, a group traveled to South Africa, visiting three cities and four institutions. In addition to research presentations given and research collaborations begun, a new international mentoring program was initiated as well.
Moore described the university’s Bias Education Initiative, an effort to help women of color address the challenges of balancing multiple responsibilities and expectations, all in the context of unconscious bias. In December 2011 they held a workshop designed to build community, raise questions, and identify solutions among women faculty of color and their spouses and partners. The workshop was divided into three tracks: single women faculty, married or partnered women faculty, and spouses and partners of women faculty. The various groups began creating community, including the spouses and partners, who formed a group designed to explore how best to support their female partners in their work in academia. Future workshops will be held to address questions that emerged at the first, including the impact and experience of having or not having children and the experiences of single women in the academy.
James Wayne Jones of the University of Michigan spoke to the need for policy changes to be accompanied by education and information to those who will be implementing the changes. For example, a decade ago the University Regents voted to allow schools and colleges to extend the tenure clock to up to 10 years (the College of Engineering, for example, has an eight-year tenure clock, allowing for up to two one-year family-care leaves).The administration had seen that simply putting a policy in place did not ensure the desired outcome, as it was not unusual, when longer tenure clocks were an exception, for tenure committees to have higher expectations for people who had utilized them. However, the attitudinal discrepancy has now virtually disappeared. Leaders at the University of Michigan have learned how to prepare for policy changes that also involve cultural change and behavioral change, and to make clear to faculty both the reasons for the new policies and their importance.
Joan Reede of Harvard Medical School’s Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership noted that she is part of a continuum of change. Since the need for change will outlast her, part of her task is to prepare and train the individuals who come after her. She stated the importance of understanding the culture of one’s institution and of using resources and influences both internal and external to the institution. And she noted that an individual does not have to take on every issue at once, nor does she or he have to work alone.