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May 29, 2007

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WHOI Diversity Committee Meeting Minutes

Attending: David Gaylord, Mary Lardie, Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Peggy Rose, Amelie Scheltema, Fiamma Straneo, Tim Verslycke, Shona Vitelli, Joan Watring, Sheri White (all WHOI Diversity Committee), as well as Julia Westwater and Jian Lin (both WHOI Diversity Advisory Committee).

Co-chair Shona Vitelli welcomed everyone present and gave a brief summary of our last meeting.

Shona reported that Fritz Heide confirmed that the WHOI logo should not be modified to fit our needs for a logo for our web site. This eliminated two design proposals and the committee decided to postpone deciding on our logo until the next meeting. Fiamma Straneo suggested to use the expertise of the WHOI Graphics Department in designing an appropriate logo.

Shona invited Tina Betti (HR) to attend one of our next meetings and she has accepted the invitation. Tina also provided us with the contact information (ph: 508-566-6736) for the ombuds hotline that is difficult to find on the WHOI web site.

Shona invited comments and suggestions on the introductory text for our web site that she had sent to the committee members. Amelie Scheltema suggested adding electronic links to town resources and committees to our web site.

Sheri White and Tim Verslycke reported that the first “Diversity Movie” will be shown on Wednesday, June 20 at 8 pm in the Redfield Auditorium. The title of the movie is “Something the Lord Made”. Advertisement will be made through fliers and the WHOI Yellow Pages.

Plans for a Woods Hole Diversity Day are currently being made. Most likely the event will have a WHOI focus. Jin Lin is interested in inviting someone who can share insights into how disasters preferentially affect disadvantaged segments of the population. Most likely, this event will be scheduled for the 2nd or 3rd week of August.

The committee felt that we needed to formulate a letter to the Search Committee for the new WHOI President/Director that emphasizes the need to make WHOI a more diverse workplace. Shona volunteered to draft such a letter and distribute it to the committee members for comments. As stated in past meetings making diversity a priority requires both a bottom-up and top-down approach.

Much of the rest of the meeting was centered around the statistical analysis of ethnic and gender diversity at WHOI. Shona mentioned that WHOI has funding to support three Minority Summer Fellows this year. Peggy Rose offered help to integrate numbers on the gender and ethnic diversity of the WHOI Board of Trustees and Corporation into the statistical analysis and mentioned that Tom Nemmers has already compiled those numbers. The committee agreed to ask HR for permission to distribute the data in form of a “status report” on diversity at WHOI.The committee felt that such a status report could function as an important benchmark towards the long-term goals of making WHOI a more diverse Institution. Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink volunteered to put together a draft report that will help to create a baseline for comparison with other Institutions, Cape Cod, Massachusetts and nationally. There was general consensus among the committee members that a “strategic plan” is needed to organize efforts and make a long-term commitment towards increasing diversity. Such an initiative will need to be sustained and include multiple steps and phases to achieve the desired short-term and long-term goals. Examples for such initiatives are concerted efforts by all Scientific Organizations in Woods Hole to increase admissions of ethnically diverse classes, shared fellowships, and an reexamination of the admission policies (Jian Lin). Methods of job advertisement and retention will also need to be reexamined. Amelie Scheltema urged to build a support structure for minority students from the six scientific institutions that participate in the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative. Tim Verslycke suggested to form ties with local schools, a sentiment shared by Mary Lardie who mentioned enabling connections (e.g., Science Fairs) between WHOI scientists and schools that do not currently have established ties with WHOI. Such ties could include mentoring programs, perhaps through local organizations such as WHSTEP that are already established. It was also pointed out that the WHOI statistics should be compared with the ethnic diversity of the Falmouth school district population.Fiamma Straneo suggested to also compare our statistics with those of other institutions such as the University of Hawaii, Scripps, University of Washington, and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Miami.

We agreed to ask the WHOI Academic Programs Office for statistics on the gender and ethnic diversity of the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography, Postdoctoral Scholars, Summer Student/Minority Fellows and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Summer Program Fellows. This data will fill the gap in the data we received from Human Resources.

The Committee agreed to hold the next meeting on Tuesday, June 26 at 1:00 pm in Watson 201.

Last updated: May 3, 2010

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