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January 29, 2008

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WHOI Diversity Committee Meeting Minutes

Attending: John Farrar, David Gaylord, Breea Govenar, Kerry Heywood, Di Jin, Mary Lardie, Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Amelie Scheltema, Shona Vitelli, Joan Watring (all WHOI Diversity Committee), as well as Jian Lin (Woods Hole Diversity Committee).

Co-chair Shona Vitelli welcomed everyone and introduced the new postdoc representatives, Breea Govenar and John Farrar, to the committee.  As part of the introduction to the committee, Shona briefly reviewed the the membership proposal and, after one last correction, asked the committee for approval.  The membership proposal was approved unanimously.

Shona suggested that our committee officially sponsor the visit of Prof. Agnes Wakesho Mwang’ombe, who will speak on “Kenya’s rural women: sustainability, climate change, and arid lands challenges” (Falmouth UU Fellowship, March 22, 2008).  Her talk will also serve as a fundraiser for ASALFO’s (Arid and Semi Arid Lands Foundation) support for Higher Education scholarships for Kenya’s Pastoralist Girls.

Revisiting the status of the working groups and their plans for 2008 provided a good opportunity to familiarize Brea and Tom with the committee activities in 2007.  Ami briefly reviewed the status of the Diversity Brochure that the Woods Hole Diversity Committee has been working on for the past two years.  WHOI, i.e. our committee, has agreed to take the lead on finalizing the brochure.  Judy Fenwick and Mike Carlowitz have offered assistance, and Mike proposed a June deadline for finalizing the brochure.  The WHDAC has agreed to help finance the printing of the brochure from its 2008 budget.

Sheri briefly reviewed the activities of the Diversity Movie Night committee.  In contrast to the previous movie nights (Something the Lord Made, But I’m a Cheerleader), the November event (Flirting) was very well attended.  Sheri passed around a list with suggestions for movies for the upcoming season (Diversity_movies.xls).  Kerry Heywood agreed to join the working group for Tim Verslycke who has left WHOI at the end of 2007.

Shona gave a brief update on the “workshops/training” working group.  She would like to use “Diversity Week” to raise awareness for the need for sensitivity training.  Shona told the committee that Senator Therese Murray has secured funding for a Woods Hole Diversity Office, to be established at the Sea Education Association (SEA), to assist all six member institutions with improving workplace diversity.  Brea raised the issue of conducting a self-service for WHOI employees that may give us insight into biases we may hold regarding diversity issues.  Bernhard suggested that if we were to conduct such a self-survey we should reach out to researchers active in this field to benefit from their expertise in conducting such a survey.

Mary, our representative on the committee organizing Diversity Week, sought ideas for lunchtime seminar speakers.  Diversity Week tentatively has been scheduled for June 23-27, and events are planned for every day of the week.  On Friday, a final event is planned for the Quissett ballfield (tent, speaker, diversity fair).  Mary is in contact with the Dean of the MIT Graduate School, Dr. Lerman, who heads the “Center for Minorites”.  The suggestion was made to invite Dr. Carla Curran as a guest speaker, who recently visited WHOI from Savannah State University.

Jian reported on the Partnership in Education Proposal (PEP) that is being prepared by WHDAC to raise funding for a summer student program organized by the six membership science organizations.  The goal is to bring approximately 15 mostly minority students to Woods Hole for a 10-12 week summer program, for which they can receive class credits from their home institutions.  The anticipated start of this program in 2009, and funding will be sought from private Foundations and NOAA.

The Committee agreed to meet again on February 26 from 1:00-2:00 pm in the Watson seminar room (201).



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