Provost Beverly Wendland has convened a special task force to examine climate and culture on the Danforth campus in relation to interactions between Danforth Campus faculty mentors and their mentees, particularly graduate and professional students and postdoctoral fellows, as well as to make recommendations for improvements in this area.

Faculty play a critical role in mentoring, advising and supporting graduate and professional students and postdoctoral fellows.  Although these relationships and interactions are mostly positive, they can also be shaped by behaviors and practices that may have negative personal and professional consequences.  While laboratory dynamics and culture will fall under the purview of the task force’s mandate, its exploratory process will also consider interactions between faculty and mentees more broadly, including in disciplines that do not typically have a laboratory setting.  Through its work, the Danforth Task Force on Climate and Culture will identify behaviors, and practices that may lead to negative outcomes for graduate and professional students and postdoctoral fellows and will identify and recommend best practices that obviate such outcomes.  The task force will also offer insights and recommendations to make the Danforth Campus a place where graduate and professional students and postdoctoral scholars of all backgrounds, identities and disciplinary orientations can succeed, thrive and experience a genuine sense of belonging. 

This task force will work in collaboration with the School of Medicine’s Task Force on Climate and Culture, which was formed by Dean Perlmutter in January.  The Danforth Task Force on Climate and Culture will be co-chaired by Kia Caldwell, vice provost for faculty affairs and diversity, and Vijay Ramani, vice provost for graduate education and international affairs.  We anticipate at this time that the task force will meet approximately 1-2 times per month from March to December 2023.

Task Force Charge

  • Examine the complex ecosystem of faculty mentors, advisors and mentees across Danforth Schools to identify:
    • Areas of strength and weakness
    • Where and how we can institute best practices
    • How to remediate areas of weakness
    • Protocols to protect mentees and enhance faculty and mentee interactions
  • Review the guidance currently available to those on the Danforth Campus concerning what to do if confronted with or observant of inappropriate behavior or situations, and assess whether improvements could be made in the content and dissemination of such information.
We will seek your input along the way and keep you updated on our progress.