Provost's Messages

Spring 2010 Diversity Report


During a strategic planning exercise last spring, the Washington University Board of Trustees affirmed that one of our key initiatives in the Plan for Excellence should be to “strengthen diversity and improve gender balance and inclusiveness in all segments of the university community.”

Indeed, universities must lead in efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive environment. Our goal is that the Danforth and Medical Campuses would become a model for the kind of world we want our students, faculty and staff to lead.  Diversity will be a major focus of my office and for the university.

Last year, I visited several peer institutions and met with their senior administrators about diversity-related issues.  I wanted to learn from the challenges and successes of others, looking for best practices and concepts that might be tried at Washington University.  During winter and spring 2009, I met with faculty and staff, individually and in groups, on both campuses.  Based on ideas from those meetings, as well as conversations with the chancellor and other senior administrators, I issued the Provost’s Statement on Diversity as a way to formalize the university’s intentions in this area.  I have been encouraged with the support from the school deans as well as groups like the University Council, Senate Council, and Executive Committee of the Faculty Council (WUSM).  The Association of Women Faculty (AWF) and Academic Women’s Network (AWN) have been excellent partners.  I should also note that I have been working closely with Leah Merrifield, Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Diversity Initiatives to complement the good work begun by the Coordinating Council for Diversity Initiatives (CCDI).

The introduction of a periodic update on issues of diversity will highlight our ongoing progress toward this very important goal.

We created Provost website as a resource and repository for data and diversity information.  Designed to grow to fit the needs of visitors, this site currently links to a number of presentations, reports, and resources.  Ideas for additional content are welcome.

Recommendations from the Advisory Council on Women Faculty (ACWF)
The Advisory Committee on Women Faculty (PDF) met during the fall of 2008 and presented a  number of recommendations on issues of diversity.  Much careful work and deliberation went into that document, and I have referred back to it a number of times this past year.  Responses to two of the suggestions contained in that report are detailed here:

The ACWF recommended creating the position of ombudsperson “to provide confidential, independent, nonpolitical, and knowledgeable counsel and, where appropriate, advocacy for faculty members.”  I have held a number of productive conversations with a faculty member to serve in this role on the Danforth Campus and will announce this position when it is finalized.  Similar conversations are occurring at the Medical School through the Executive Committee of the Faculty Council (ECFC) to establish a parallel position tailored to the needs of that campus.

Diversity Grants
Under leadership from Leah Merrifield and Kent Syverud, this past year marked the first awarding of $250,000 set aside for diversity initiatives at the University.  The review committee received many proposals and decided to fund 13 representing each school, faculty and staff, and various programming initiatives.  I look forward to the enthusiasm our 2009 Awardees will bring to diversity efforts.  For 2010, the committee plans to set forth a set of proposal guidelines and expectations for proposed projects.

Vice-Provost for Diversity
The ACWF report also recommended the appointment of a senior faculty member/administrator tasked with focusing on issues of diversity.  I continue to carefully consider the recommendations.  Given the administrative structure at Washington University, having the Provost closely involved with diversity seems essential.

Provost’s Diversity Work Group
The Provost’s Diversity Work Group first convened in April 2009, met again in the fall of 2009, and will continue to meet once each semester.  Members of the group span all Danforth Campus schools as well as the Medical School and the University’s administration.  Since the work group is fairly large (20 people), our initial meeting resulted in a number of specific proposals that we thought best considered and executed through a series of subcommittees.  These subcommittees (detailed below) continue to meet regularly or on an as-needed basis.  Their work has been instrumental in shaping our diversity plan, and I am pleased with the accomplishments to date.  I think our real challenges lie in the years to come, now that the first essential tasks have been addressed.


Debra Haire-Joshu (Social Work), Helen Piwinica-Worms (Medicine), Larry Shapiro (Medicine), and Frank Yin (Engineering) worked with my office during the summer of 2009 to review faculty trend data in preparation for posting it on the web.  It is my plan to post additional data, reports, and resources about diversity on the provost’s website as well as other important campus issues.

Target of Opportunity
John Baugh (Arts & Sciences), Chair.  Members: Jean Allman (Arts & Sciences), Jim McLeod (Administration), Will Ross (Medicine), Lisa Siddens (Administration), Luis Zayas (Social Work).  This subcommittee met with deans of each school to ascertain what school-based policies exist for special opportunity hiring. Target of Opportunity hires can bring diversity to a department, school, and to the campus at large by taking advantage of unique opportunities to recruit members of under-represented groups.  Their report was received as a memo to the provost; an executive summary can be found here.  One goal outlined is the creation of a university-wide definition of a “target of opportunity” hire and the publicity of such a program.

Mary Ann Dzuback (Arts & Sciences), Chair.  Members: Brian Carpenter (Arts & Sciences), Brian Crisp (Arts & Sciences), Pauline Kim (Law), Tava Olsen (Business), Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert (Engineering), Elzbieta Sklodowska (Arts & Sciences), Gerhild Williams (Arts & Sciences).  This group sought information about mentoring from each tenuring unit (departments and schools) in order to make recommendations for University-wide practices.  Their report will be circulated to department heads and deans; an executive summary is available on the website.

Debra Haire-Joshu (Social Work), Chair.  Members: Andrea Friedman (Arts & Sciences), Diana Gray (Medicine), Ed Macias (Administration), Lynn McCloskey (Administration), Shelley Milligan (Administration), Elzbieta Sklodowska (Arts & Sciences), Denise Ward-Brown (Art).  Holding supervisors accountable for diversity represents this subcommittee’s goal.  In consultation with school deans, they developed a survey which consists of phased reporting requests from deans.  The document presents University goals of how diversity manifests in different settings and asks deans for their diversity goals.  Once a year, we will review the goals and assess progress.

Search Procedures
Mary Ann Dzuback (Arts & Sciences) and Luis Zayas (Social Work), Co-Chairs.  Recognizing that the commitment to a diverse campus begins with hiring, Professors Dzuback and Zayas created a plan to visit selected search committees this past fall 2009.  The brief presentations conducted by Prof. Dzuback informed committee members about ways to promote diversity in the search process. Plans are underway for a search committee workshop to be held this coming fall 2010.  It will be expected that at least one member of each search committee will attend the fall workshop.  Follow-up will continue throughout the search process.

Leadership Development
Elzbieta Sklodowska (Arts & Sciences), Chair.  Members: Tili Boon Cuille (Arts & Sciences), Tonya Edmond (Social Work), Hilary Anger Elfenbein (Business), Jim McLeod (Administration), Leah Merrifield (Administration), Shelley Milligan (Administration), Karen O’Malley (Medicine), Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert (Engineering).  This subcommittee met to review the presence of women and under-represented minorities in the University’s leadership, explored leadership development programs at other institutions, and developed a report with recommendations to promote faculty leadership at the University.  Their report will be circulated to department heads and deans; an executive summary is posted here.

Exit Interviews
Brian Carpenter (Arts & Sciences), Chair.  Members: Ann Prenatt (Administration), Corinna Treitel (Arts & Sciences), Stuart Bunderson (Business), Lee Konczak (Business).  The goal for this subcommittee is to explore a procedure whereby each faculty member who leaves the University, for whatever reason, would be interviewed just before or recently after their departure.  Its work will commence shortly.

Staff Mentoring
While our efforts began in the faculty ranks, it quickly became apparent that many of the same challenges facing faculty confront staff.   Working closely with Leah Merrifield, the Coordinating Council for Diversity Initiatives (CCDI) has been reconstituted as a subcommittee of the Provost’s Diversity Work Group and will take as its chief focus issues of mentoring for our staff.  Members of the staff mentoring group include: Leah Merrifield (Diversity Administration), Chair; Georgia Binnington (Sam Fox School); Justin Carroll (Student Affairs); Rudolph Clay (Libraries); Ida Early (Administration); Steven Givens (Public Affairs); Lorraine Goffe-Rush (Human Resources); Alan Kuebler (Purchasing); Denise McCartney (Research); Shelley Milligan (Provost’s Office); Susan Plassmeyer (Alumni & Development); Legail Poole Chandler (Human Resources-Medical Campus); Joseph Sklansky (General Counsel); Gerhild Williams (Administration).

Staff Leadership
Preliminary conversations are occurring around the idea of a staff leadership development program to be designed over the summer and perhaps initiated in early 2011.  Chaired by Julia Macias Garcia (Arts & Sciences and Campus Affairs) and Gail Oltmanns (Libraries), members of the steering committee include Leah Costantino (Olin Business School); Lorraine Goffe-Rush (Human Relations); Chad Ittner (Alumni & Development); Larry Kindbom (Athletics); Chris Kroeger (Engineering); Shelley Milligan (Provost’s Office); Elzbieta Sklodowska (Arts & Sciences); Tim Thornton (Financial Planning).

  • Gender Pay Equity
    Over the last 18 months, my office worked closely with the Gender Pay Equity Committee appointed by the Faculty Senate Council and chaired by Shanta Pandey and Bob Pollack.  Data were analyzed from each Danforth campus school, and the report’s main finding is a pattern that “women on average are paid less than men.”  The final report was submitted to the Faculty Senate Council on April 29 and is posted here.  This report and its findings have been and will continue to be the subject of conversation with the deans.  The committee also made a number of recommendations which will help us move forward in addressing issues of pay equity.
  • Speakers
    In March 2009, Jennifer Mason from the Advisory Board Company (ABC), made a presentation on campus entitled “Breakthrough Advances in Faculty Diversity.”  Handouts and reports from this session are available from my office (935-3000).  The research performed by ABC informed the work of a number of subcommittees of the Provost’s Diversity Work Group. I also want to reference the outstanding efforts being made across campus to bring to campus speakers on diversity issues.  In late March 2009, Pat Jones from Stanford visited campus at the invitation of the Association of Women Faculty (AWF) and in April, Rachel Croson from the University of Texas-Dallas spoke at Olin Business School.  PowerPoints from each talk are available here.  Just last week, Judith Chevalier, the William S. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Economics at Yale University, delivered two talks as part of the Distinguished Women in Economics and Strategy series sponsored at Olin Business School.  Attending these talks and a number of others (including Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s visit in February 2010) provides an opportunity to hear from seasoned colleagues and leaders in higher education who have made diversity a chief focus of their work. In early April a number of organizations collaborated on an outstanding slate of events celebrating 100 years of the Women’s Club at Washington University.  Panel discussions, receptions, special exhibits, and a centennial gala highlighted the contributions of women to the University community.
  • Looking Ahead
    Diversity is a critical and defining feature of any top-ranked University.  Our effort at keeping diversity top of mind is bearing results for us; significant progress will  take time.  I am heartened with this year’s efforts.  This year saw a truly diverse group of faculty and senior academic leaders visit our campus either as visiting speakers or as candidates for open positions.  Several faculty searches concluded with outstanding hires that will help diversify our ranks.  While there are successes and I count on more, there are also areas of concern.  The gender pay equity report provides one area for discussion and action.  Engendering a sense of ownership about the issue of diversity represents another area for growth. For the near future, we will respond to the subcommittee recommendations and reports, aiming to achieve at least one suggestion from each area.  The accountability surveys will allow measurement of school-based progress.   We are continuing in our efforts to develop diverse faculty leadership which will translate into a more diverse university administration.  Research confirms that effective mentoring programs will help all faculty and staff – not just those from under-represented groups.  Search workshops will give committee members new resources to try in their searches this coming year.  Installing a faculty ombudsperson will open a new channel for confidential (anonymous) feedback on diversity (or any other) faculty issue.  Beginning efforts to involve staff in diversity efforts will help bridge the faculty-staff divide that sometimes hampers collective effort and progress.  The program of diversity grants will continue to solicit proposals from the entire campus, resulting in programs and research that helps move forward our goals with diversity. I challenge all of us to look for ways to enhance the diversity of our own departments or units.  We will succeed when we all engage and become involved in shaping the thoughts, conversations, and actions of our areas.  Please send me any suggestions or questions you might have.