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May 27, 2008

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WHOI Diversity Committee Meeting Minutes

Attending: Tom Farrar, Ernst Galutschek, David Gaylord, Kerry Heywood, Annette Hynes, Di Jin, Mary Lardy, Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Ami Scheltema, Shona Vitelli, Joan Watring, Sheri White (all WHOI Diversity Committee), and Ann Sweck (HR) as well as Jian Lin and Judy Fenwick (Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee).

Co-chair Shona Vitelli opened the meeting with the good news that Carolyn Bunker has approved the budget for the Diversity Brochure.  We view this as a step towards establishing a budget for our committee.

Shona and Bernhard gave a brief summary of the meeting with honorary trustee Cecily Selby and trustee Bill Kealy at the recent “Partnership luncheon” that Tom Nemmers helped to organize.  Our discussions centered about the importance of increasing diversity at WHOI, both for its intrinsic benefit to science, education and outreach as well as to position WHOI with respect to changing US demographics and keeping the Institution competitive in the federal and state funding arenas.  We also briefly mentioned the email exchange we are having with trustee Kathy Sullivan, who unfortunately could not attend the luncheon.

Most of the meeting was spent discussing the draft Strategic Diversity Plan that was sent to the committee members on the morning of the meeting.  While the timing did not allow all members to read and think about the draft, we had a lively discussion.  Judy Fenwick pointed out that our draft should be called a “tactical plan” rather than a “strategic plan” as it contains very concrete steps and goals aimed at increasing diversity at WHOI.  Di Jin suggested reorganizing the draft to start with measures that benefit the entire Institution before focusing on changes to the education program.  Amy Scheltema, Sheri White and Jian Lin emphasized the need to reach out to minority serving institutions by establishing personal ties through visits and collaborations.  Annette Hynes raised the issue of advertising to attract underrepresented minorities (e.g., Winds of Change, a native American website), a sensitive subject as programs aimed specifically at attracting minorities have been challenged on legal grounds.  Shona pointed out the need for an adequate outreach and advertising budget (HR).  Ann Sweck informed us that HR is striving to optimize the use of its advertising budget to reach underrepresented minorities, including advertising in minority-serving publications and travel to job fairs.  However, the advertisement budget for 2008 has already nearly been spent.

Amy raised the issue of mentoring, specifically the need to groom the existing Mentorship Program at WHOI.  She also raised the issue of hiring mentors (scientists, technical and administrative personnel) for underrepresented minorities.  Jian suggested establishing an endowed visiting researcher position at WHOI that could be used to invite researchers from underrepresented minorities or those working at institutions serving underrepresented minorities.  Jian suggested that such an “expanded Steinbach Fellowship” program would allow non-WHOI researchers to visit the Institution for several months.  We agreed to add this suggestion to the Strategic Diversity Plan.

Finally, Judy mentioned the need to link activities undertaken by WHOI to a larger national initiative aimed at increasing diversity in the ocean sciences (e.g., CORE, Ocean Leadership).

The outline for Diversity Week is now available.  The USGS seminar has been moved from Friday to Wednesday afternoon (2:30-4:30).  Shona suggested asking Susan Avery to invite the WHOI community in the weekly WHOI news to attend “Diversity Week” events.

The Committee agreed to meet again on June 17 from 1:30-2:30 pm in Bigelow 217.

Last updated: May 3, 2010

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