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College of Science work on Diversity, Equity, Justice and Inclusivity

College of Science work on Diversity, Equity, Justice and Inclusivity

July 2020 – In the College of Science, we are committed to fostering a community and environment where all are welcome, valued and respected. We are deeply committed to the values shared along with our mission: “Diversity to build the best teams to do the best science” — and “An inclusive community." While we acknowledge that there is a lot more important work to do, we would like to share some of the steps we have taken to advance diversity, equity, inclusivity and justice in the College of Science this past year (with some elements going a bit further back) are the following:

  • This year we hired five tenure-track faculty. Three of the five are people of color, three are women and all five have a deep commitment to equity, justice and inclusivity. This was possible because of policies and procedures we have put in place to increase diversity in hiring.
  • The Dean meets with every head and tenure-track faculty candidate as well as all candidates interviewing for a position that reports to the Dean. Their work in diversity, equity, justice and inclusivity is ⅓ of the interview and lack of a compelling record in this area is disqualifying.
  • The College is very dedicated to the Search Advocate program. For faculty hires, the dean meets first with the search committee chair and the SA and emphasizes that the SA is a full committee member and that a critical goal for the college is to increase diversity in hiring, and that the SA’s job is to keep intentional and unintentional bias out of the search process and to help proactively search for diverse candidates. The dean then meets with the search committee and tells them the same thing and that it is expected that the pool of candidates should be at least as diverse as a nationwide database of potentially eligible candidates, and if it isn’t the search could be canceled.
  • Three department heads changed this year. The candidates’ work done to foster and enhance equity, justice and inclusivity featured prominently in all three searches.
  • The Dean’s Office and most departments ran workshops on equity, justice and inclusivity in collaboration with the Office for Institutional Diversity for faculty and staff this year. (All had plans, but a couple of departments’ plans were derailed by the pandemic.)
  • This year, the College has raised $3.1M in philanthropic donations for student support, of which more than two-thirds are targeted for equity, justice and inclusivity. These funds will be directed to the RISE fund for students with disabilities, to the new Ramanujan-Hardy Fellowship for historically underserved graduate students in mathematics, to other funds for historically underserved students across the College, and to the Beaver Care initiative.
  • Philanthropic giving to the College, which are funds sought by the College, support programs such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE Science), which awards scholarships for intensive summer research in science, mathematics and other STEM programs to a large proportion of students of color.
  • The Science Success Center was created in October 2017 to largely increase inclusive spaces for underrepresented students.
  • The College will continue to financially support the Louis Stokes Program for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program at OSU. We have also strengthened the College’s connections with other minority-serving OSU programs and centers such as STEM Leaders, Diversity & Cultural Engagement, Center for Civic Engagement, Education Opportunities Program, and TRiO with increased collaboration and support of our shared students.
  • The College faculty, staff and students organize and participate in several outreach and recruitment events to develop minority students in science pipelines. These include the K-12 Discovery Days program, Juntos Family Day, STEM Mentoring Cafe and Precollege Programs like Discovering the Scientist Within, Advocates for Women in Science, Engineering, and Math (AWSEM), and STEM Academy. The College hosts or sponsors approximately 16 events annually focused on students from underrepresented communities. These include the Minority Association for Pre-medical Students Conference and the GEM Lab Sponsor for URM students interested in science and technology careers.
  • The College led in founding the new Beaver Connect (formerly known as the Faculty - Student Mentor Program), a program designed to mentor first-year students who are BIPOC or Pell-eligible or first-generation. The College financially supported the two-year pilot program and will continue supporting Beaver Connect.
  • At the Dean’s request and with Head Advisor Heather Arbuckle and Associate Dean of Science Henri Jansen’s leadership, the College established the Equity Promise Scholarship with a budget of $30,000. Many of these scholarships go to students of color and all go to students experiencing hardships. When the pandemic struck, Heather, Henri, and the Dean conferred and the College immediately doubled the budget to $60,000. The College has gone well beyond that now, to approximately $75,000 in FY20.
  • To advance equity and networking and professional opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students of color, the College financially supports their travel and participation in the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) national conference.
  • We have worked to bring diverse speakers and prominent BIPOC scientists to campus, such as Warren Washington (‘58, ‘60), a COS alumnus and a renowned climate scientist.
  • Biology faculty Dee Denver and Jane Lubchenco have made preliminary arrangements for Ayana Johnson, a marine biologist and policy expert, to do a remote Department of Integrative Biology-hosted panel discussion and Q&A focusing on her upcoming book that tackles the intersection of racism and climate change. We are working toward having this offered in late October.
  • Work on equity, justice, and inclusivity is considered for promotion or tenure of faculty.
  • Plans to advance equity, justice, and inclusivity are routinely discussed in the College Leadership Team, and all unit leaders know this is a priority for the College.
  • The College created a new award in AY19-20 year for Inclusive Excellence to help encourage work on diversity, equity, justice, and inclusivity. This year’s awardees were Vrushali Bokil, professor of mathematics, for running a 60-hour immersive course for graduate students on the topic of difference, power, and discrimination, and to the Department of Physics student group, Physicists for Inclusion in Science (PhIS) for running several diversity and inclusion in physics instruction workshops for first-year graduate students.
  • COS led in obtaining the $1M grant on inclusive excellence from the HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute).
  • The Dean recruited for future faculty at the 2019 Institute for Teaching and Mentoring at the Southern Regional Education Board, the largest gathering of minority doctoral students in the country.
  • Physics redesigned their PhD evaluation program based on student input to make it more inclusive, mainly by eliminating high stakes testing in favor of well defined learning objectives with multiple ways of achieving them. Physics asked the question - what are we really trying to achieve and how do we achieve that in the most inclusive way possible. Davide Lazzati, Ethan Minot and Liz Gire led the effort which took over a year and involved multiple focus sessions with graduate students that led to significant changes.
  • Microbiology formed a Core Values Committee in 2019. This committee includes undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty. The aims of the committee are to promote a more inclusive and equitable experience for all Microbiology students, faculty, and staff. By encouraging compassion, opening dialogues, and uplifting voices, the committee seeks to bring visibility to sources of inequity and make lasting, adaptive changes to combat them. We aim to provide support, guidance, and access to information and resources associated with equity and inclusion.
  • Several other departments have similar committees to that in Microbiology.
  • The Dean, all associate deans, 8 department heads, and 9 faculty have taken the two-week ADVANCE seminar, centered on analyzing the operations of difference, power, and privilege in higher education, with particular attention to STEM disciplines. A 9th department head took a similar two-week course, the DPD (Diversity Power Difference) Academy.
  • COS has had multiple inclusive excellence fellows.
  • Dee Denver, incoming head of Integrative Biology, developed a DPD class in 2017 (BI 175 Genomes, Identities, and Societies), which was the first-ever DPD class to be offered by the Biology degree program.
  • A new IB PhD program recruit, Alexis ('Lex') Anderson, won an OSU Diversity Advancement Fellowship and has already begun working with Dee Denver’s research team this summer. This is the first time a student in the IB grad program has won one of these awards.