BGSU is taking an important step toward improving prospects for women and underrepresented minority men in the fields of science, math and technology. It is a partner with five other northern Ohio universities in a three-year, nearly $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) program called IDEAL— Institutions Developing Excellence in Academic Leadership.
Led by Case Western Reserve University, the partnership includes BGSU, Cleveland State and Kent State universities, the University of Akron and the University of Toledo. Dr. Deanne Snavely, interim vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate College, is co-director at BGSU.
The purpose of the program is to identify the factors responsible for the underrepresentation of tenure- and tenure-track women in science and engineering faculties, to implement change initiatives designed for each campus to reach gender equity, and assemble senior academic leadership in the universities to disseminate best practices from the participating universities. BGSU, like many universities, has few tenured and tenure-track women faculty in the sciences and would like to increase diversity in those disciplines.
Heading up the effort at Bowling Green are Change Leader Drs. Sheila Roberts, geology; Laura Leventhal, computer science, and Helen Michaels, biological sciences. They have been meeting regularly with members from the partner institutions.
“BGSU decided on “Build Intellectual Community and Collegiality” to set the stage for surveying the campus climate and building leadership for women in the sciences,” said Snavely.
“One of the first goals of IDEAL is get upper administration members involved to help insure that change will happen,” she added. When BGSU was invited by Case Western to become a partner, Dr. Kenneth Borland, vice provost for academic affairs and provost, was immediately on board, Snavely reported. He has been very supportive, as have Dr. Simon Morgan-Russell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Associate Dean Julie Barnes, say the change team.
For this first year of the three-year IDEAL program, the Change Leader team will identify the specific barriers to career advancement through surveys and focus groups, and will develop strategies for creating opportunities for collegial interactions.
The BGSU plan has three elements: To lend support to the proposed charter change, currently being debated in the Faculty Senate, regarding conditions under which tenure-track faculty can stop their tenure clock without penalty; to understand the issues facing women faculty members in STEM areas at BGSU, and to begin to learn how existing strictures, specifically Title IX, relate to and can positively enhance the diversity of STEM areas at BGSU.
IDEAL builds on Case Western’s NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Grant, awarded in 2003. Case Western established the program Academic Careers in Engineering and Science (ACES) and accomplished growth in the numbers women in science and engineering faculty and leadership positions. IDEAL promulgates the successful components of those ACES initiatives.
Kelly Mack, the NSF's ADVANCE program director, said the new award is exciting partly because it focuses on the northern Ohio region. She said IDEAL's coordinated and systematic approach would, ultimately, achieve greater results than if the six universities acted separately.
More information can be found on the IDEAL Web site, http://www.case.edu/provost/ideal/index.html