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February 20, 2007

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WHOI Diversity Committee Meeting Minutes

Attending: Regina Campbell-Malone (Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee), Beth Andrews, David Gaylord, Kerry Heywood, Anette Hynes, Mary Lardie, Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Amelie Scheltema, Tim Verslycke, Shona Vitelli, Sheri White (all WHOI Diversity Committee).

Co-chair Shona Vitelli welcomed everyone present and gave a brief summary of our last meeting.Co-chair Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink volunteered to take meeting notes and write minutes.

The round-table discussion focused on three main topics, (1) establishing and strengthening links with other committees that focus on aspects of diversity (Women’s Committee, International Committee, etc.), (2) WHOI-internal activities aimed at increasing and fostering diversity, and (3) outreach efforts.

Developing a website dedicated to diversity at WHOI and the local community is seen as a good start to broadly advertise existing resources. For instance, Beth Andrews mentioned the Employee Assistant Program (EAP) as a resource offered as part of the employee benefit package. Links to existing WHOI websites (Women’s Committee, International Committee, etc.) and related websites at other Woods Hole Institutions will provide a more complete picture of available resources. Amelie Scheltema suggested that the Diversity Committee’s charge, it’s members and work phone numbers as well as abbreviated minutes be posted on the website. David Gaylord offered his expertise in setting up the committee’s website. In order to track WHOI’s contributions to the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative, Regina Campbell-Malone suggested keeping a record of monetary and in-kind contributions.

Members confirmed that the Women’s Committee and International Committee were not places for reporting issues that arise with individuals and agreed that our committee should not be either. There was concern that the only outlet for current reporting is the Ombudsperson hotline. We were curious to know how Karen Rauss feels about her new position as the Ombuds hotline host. The email between Kathy LaBernz and Julia Westwater on Managerial Authority was handed out for everyone to understand the institutions take on the responsibility of reporting and why this should not be left to committees.

The discussion on possible WHOI-internal activities focused initially on a “welcoming” brochure that provides new members of the Woods Hole community with a practical guide to available resources. Shona Vitelli offered to obtain copies of an existing brochure that Judy Fenwick and John Farrington developed some time ago. The content of this brochure needs to be developed in coordination with other Woods Hole Institutions, but also contain WHOI specific information.

Also discussed was the benefit of having access to what other institutions are doing so that we can prevent a duplication of solo efforts and encourage cooperation and resource sharing where practical. The DAC representatives who will occasionally attend WHOI Div Com meetings can help to relay this information.

Sheri White reminded the group of the upcoming panel discussion on educational outreach that is organized by the Women’s Committee as part of the Women’s History Month.This event will take place on March 22 in the Clark auditorium. Shona Vitelli reminded the group of the upcoming Harambee potluck dinner and the need for additional volunteers. Shona Vitelli, Amelie Scheltema and Anette Hynes volunteered to help with the setup/breakdown.

The discussion of potential outreach efforts was multi-faceted. The success of outreach activities aimed at increasing diversity at WHOI can only be evaluated if the current status of diversity is known.While the Human Resources office keeps records of employee diversity (self-identified), it is not clear if the WHOI Diversity Committee can get access to such records in order to statistically evaluate the current state of diversity in different employee groups (scientific, technical, administrative, marine staff and students). Beth Andrews offered to investigate if such a statistical analysis is possible. Should HR records not be available, the group discussed a WHOI-wide self-identification survey to gather the required information.

The group felt strongly that existing outreach activities (Blue Lobster Bowl, NEAGEP [Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate] at MIT, the MIT Summer Research Program, NE-COSEE, etc.) need to be utilized to increase diversity at WHOI. For instance, Regina Campbell-Malone told the group of the MIT Summer Research Program that brought 55 minority students for one day to Woods Hole last summer. Such low-cost activities that tie into existing programs are very promising ways of advertising career opportunities in ocean science to underrepresented groups. Sheri White suggested securing travel support for scientific staff to visit Colleges and Universities that serve the traditionally underrepresented minorities in science. Tim Verslycke told the group of his experience as judge at the Blue Lobster Bowl for High School students. He also suggested working with the organizers of the “Movies-Wednesday” to sponsor movies about diversity/minority issues. Having representatives attend the Falmouth High School Career Day was also mentioned. The committee decided to invite Andrea Thorrold, WHOI’s NE-COSEE (New England Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) coordinator, to one of the upcoming meetings to evaluate opportunities to increase diversity at WHOI and strengthen K-12 ocean literacy and teacher education. Recruiting a more diverse group of employees may require modifications in the choice of media used to advertise WHOI positions. Sheri White mentioned the success of the “Rooney Rule” that requires clubs in the National Football League to assemble a diverse candidate slate and interview at least one minority candidate when searching for head coaches. This policy has lead to a notable increase in minorities in head coach positions. Beth Andrews offered to find out where WHOI typically advertises positions to gauge whether changes are desirable to reach underrepresented groups. Amelie Scheltema mentioned that Woods Hole/Falmouth are in a good position to attract a diverse work force because Falmouth’s George Spivey is the only Equity/Affirmative Action Officer for a town in Massachusetts. The committee is aware that increasing diversity at WHOI is a challenging task that requires dedicated resources. As pointed out by Jim Yoder at the last meeting and emphasized again by Regina Campbell-Malone during this meeting, seeking new funding sources dedicated to increasing diversity at WHOI will be necessary to make an impact. Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink mentioned that he contacted Dr. Ronald Mickens (Clark Atlanta University), a recent speaker at the Woods Hole Black History Month Lectures, to find out about research on practical steps to increase diversity in science.

All agreed to come to the next meeting with a couple of ideas for movies with diversity related themes. The Committee agreed to meet for the next meeting on March 20 at 1:00 pm in Clark 201.

Last updated: May 3, 2010

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