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April 29, 2008

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WHOI Diversity Committee Meeting Minutes

Attending: John Farrar, David Gaylord, Annette Hynes, Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Peggy Rose, Shona Vitelli, Joan Watring, Sheri White (all WHOI Diversity Committee), and Tina Betti (HR) as well as Jian Lin (Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee).

Co-chair Shona Vitelli welcomed everyone to the meeting and reviewed the minutes of the last committee meeting.  She then gave a brief update on the status of Diversity Week (June 22 to June 26).  The WHOI event (movie “Elephant Man”) will take place on Tuesday, June 24, from 7-9 pm in the Clark Auditorium.  The Diversity Day Celebration will take place on Thursday, June 26 in a tent shared with the GFD 50th Anniversary Celebration on the lawn behind Challenger House.  Our committee will remind the Diversity Week organizers of the importance of having this event featured in the local press (e.g., Cape Cod Times).

We briefly discussed the need for momentum and leadership for future workshops and training.  Shona told the committee that Ami Scheltema has personal contacts to the National American Indian Science and Engineering Society, a potentially valuable resource.  The committee members agreed to spend some time searching for resources and compile contact addresses and resources offered by organizations, speakers and workshop groups.  Our committee will start assembling such a list as a growing resource to the community.  It was also suggested to seek advice from the trustees and corporation members on suitable resources in this field at the upcoming spring meeting of the Board of Trustees and Corporation Members.

Jian reviewed the recent activities of the WHDAC, specifically the PEP (Partnership in Education Program).  In order to start the program with about 15 students in 2009, a year for which funding has not been secured, Jim Yoder has offered WHOI’s “in kind” support for postdoctoral scientists, possibly also senior graduate students, to be involved in teaching the laboratory and classroom modules.  This will significantly reduce the cost estimate for a course taught largely by scientific staff ($350-400k/yr).  Students enrolled in the program will received course credit from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES).  PEP hopes that a diverse group of candidates from traditionally minority-serving institutions will apply if such institutions are specifically targeted in course advertisements.  The Woods Hole Science Institutions and UMES will make student selection jointly.  The curriculum will revolve around laboratory demonstrations and class sessions on topics related to Physical Oceanography, Chemical Oceanography, Marine Biology, Geology and Geophysics, as well as Policy and Management.  No specific engineering component has been designed for the first year.  Rather than covering the whole range of oceanographic topics in the various sub-disciplines, the course will focus on one main topic, such as coastal change.  Ambrose Jearld (NOAA) will be the Interim PEP Director.  It has been suggested to invite Susan Avery to chair the next large meeting of the Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee.

Jian, who had raised the issue of a renewed MOU between the six WHDAC Institutions at our last committee meeting, informed the committee that Susan Avery does not see the need for a resigning of the MOU because the previous heads of the Institutions made a commitment on behalf of the Institutions involved.  These commitments are still valid, despite the changes in leadership. However, a new MOU may still be signed at some point as a strong symbolic gesture of the support for diversity initiatives by the new heads of the WHDAC Institutions. 

Shona suggested some last-minute changes to the text of the “diversity brochure” that the committee discussed.  The graphics department will be involved in the final design/layout of the brochure and the choice of graphic art.  The brochure will be printed soon and Carolyn Bunker has agreed to cover the printing costs.  The fact that our committee still does not have a budget reflects, at least in part, the ongoing review of WHOI committees by the new administration.

The “Glitter Ball”, planned by the International Committee, will be an institution-wide social event/party with a live band sometime in September/October.  The International Committee is seeking sponsorship and our committee agreed such institution-wide social events are of great value to the community.

The Committee agreed to meet again on May 27 from 1:30-2:30 pm in the Blake Conference room.

Last updated: May 3, 2010

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