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January 22, 2007

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WHOI Diversity Committee Meeting Minutes

Attending: Jim Yoder (Dean), Jim Luyten (President), Julia Westwater and Jian Lin (Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee), Beth Andrews, David Gaylord, Kerry Heywood, Di Jin, Mary Larie, Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Peggy Rose, Amelie Scheltema, Tim Verslycke, Shona Vitelli, Joan Watring, Sheri White (all WHOI Diversity Committee). Excused: Annette Hynes, Fiamma Straneo, Regina Campbell-Malone.

Co-chair Shona Vitelli welcomed everyone present and invited Tom Kleindinst to take photographs of the group and the meeting to document the inauguration of the WHOI Diversity Committee.

After a roundtable introduction of everyone present, Julia Westwater and Jian Lin provided the group with a summary of diversity activities in the Woods Hole science community since 2004 that led to the formation of Diversity Committees at the six scientific organization that participate in the Woods Hole Scientific Community Diversity Initiative - MBL, NOAA-Fisheries, SEA, WHOI, WHRC and the USGS.

Jim Yoder encouraged the committee to explore creative ways to increase diversity with the available resources. He also urged the committee to be mindful of the importance of Government-defined groups of underrepresented minorities (African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islanders) for an organization such as WHOI that receives significant support from public funding agencies.Jim Luyten welcomed the establishment of the WHOI Diversity Committee as it underscores the importance of diversity at WHOI. He stressed the importance of tolerance for a civil society.

The roundtable discussion that followed centered about the motivation of committee members for joining the Diversity Committee and brought up a wide range of topics that will be more fully explored in future meetings. Topics ranged from the utilization of town resources, communications with other WHOI committees devoted to making WHOI more diverse (e.g. Women’s Committee, International Committee), interaction with the WHOI mentoring committee, the need for an assessment of the current state of diversity at WHOI (statistics), improving recruitment and advancement opportunities for a diverse WHOI community, the need to make the village of Woods Hole and the town of Falmouth more welcoming places for underrepresented groups, the need for networking within the broader scientific community (Jim Yoder encouraged participation in student mentoring at AGU, ASLO), opportunities for making WHOI labs more diverse and, in general, working towards making WHOI a national leader in diversity in oceanography.

Also mentioned were the Falmouth Affirmative Action Committee, No Place for Hate and the racial profiling survey done by the Falmouth Police Dept. Questions and issues raised were;, What is diversity? Why are we not more diverse? Why is it important? To us personally? To our community? To our institution? To scientific research? What do we miss by not being more diverse? We should focus on recruitment and advancement while being practical, realistic and progressive. The committee acknowledged that complaints should be directed to the EEO or ombudsperson and not to the committee.

The Committee decided to keep meeting notes and publish meeting summaries on a dedicated website, while maintaining the confidentially of some of the sensitive topics discussed. David Gaylord offered his expertise in setting up the Diversity Committee website. The committee also decided to meet about once a month, with the next meeting scheduled for February 20, 1 pm. The suggestion to invite the entire WHOI community to participate in occasional open meetings was welcomed. Members welcome feedback and communication to and from departments.

Last updated: May 3, 2010

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