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JANUARY 2019

Happy New Year!

 
 
In the spirit of transparency and increased communication on community diversity and climate, we are excited to launch a monthly e-newsletter to the whole department, which will include:
  • Policy and procedure updates
  • Climate and diversity committee updates
  • Upcoming events related to diversity and inclusion
  • Community news on various efforts to create an inclusive research culture

This month's edition focuses on the Department of Chemistry Diversity and Climate Action Plan. Please download/view the action plan here.

 
 

Department of Chemistry Diversity and Climate Action Plan 

In 2017, the DCGSAC survey brought many department climate challenges to light, and in 2018 a climate survey by the Department of Chemistry and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) reflected these problems as well.

We want to thank everyone—faculty, staff, graduate students and postdocs—who was part of this data collection from August to November 2018. To make sure that every piece of information was reviewed thoroughly and the best recommendations were drafted for the department, LAS Associate Dean, Prof. Matt Ando, with the support of the Office of the Provost, convened a task force which met regularly from August through November 2018. The task force included representatives from LAS, Illinois Human Resources, Office of Access and Equity (OAE), Department of Chemistry, Office of University Counsel, Office of the Provost, and Faculty Staff Assistance Services (FSAS).

LAS drafted a 108-page report which incorporates anonymized survey data, collective interview results and actionable recommendations for departmental climate and diversity improvement. Since it is a confidential report to the department, the LAS report will not be copied or distributed publicly.

Instead, Dr. Lloyd Munjanja, Assistant Director of Diversity and Program Climate, has the full printed report copy in his office. Lloyd will have office hours for graduate students and postdocs interested in viewing the report on Fridays 1-3 PM. Faculty and staff may also make appointments to read the report.

The Department of Chemistry Diversity and Climate Action Plan was drafted as a response to the LAS report to guide the department in making lasting cultural changes to ensure a better climate for all members of our community. The action plan (linked here) will be made available on the department website, which is currently being modified to make information on climate and diversity more accessible than in the past.

Our goal, although we realize it will take time to achieve, is to create an excellent inclusive and diverse working environment for all of us—students, postdocs, staff and faculty.

 
 

Initial Steps & Looking Ahead

Here are some of the initial steps taken during the fall of 2018 to address climate challenges:

  • The action plan is only a starting point; we need a continuing process for improvement and support. Thus,
  • The faculty workshop on group management has been made mandatory this semester, raising attendance from ~30% to over 90%. A list of attendance is available in Lloyd’s office.
  • The department head, LAS dean, and staff from OAE have already met with several faculty to discuss expectations of an inclusive research environment and help them improve their mentorship skills.
  • Chemistry 492 was restructured for the fall 2018 semester, using input from DCGSAC and the Student Wellness Coalition. It now includes units on sexual harrassment and mental health/wellness.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of climate and diversity challenges, it was imperative to constitute two committees. A Diversity Committee and a separate Climate Committee were constituted by the head in December 2018, based on feedback from faculty and students on the Graduate Diversity and Program Review Committee. The committees will have their first meetings in January 2019. Among their tasks is creating a mechanism by which student and postdoc members can be nominated to the committees before the regular AY19-20 committee cycle starts. The committees will review the Diversity and Climate Action Plan and prioritize action items for implementation. The head will meet with the committees regularly. The committees will also meet regularly with community members to get feedback on implemented items, ranging from department procedures on offering protection to victims of harassment, to mentoring awards, leadership workshops for faculty, to name a few examples. (See committee members below.)

These are only a few of the many things listed in the Action Plan, which will be updated on a continuous basis by the two committees. For instance, we are in the middle of creating more informative diversity and climate web pages for the department, which will feature the action plan and many other resources for students and postdocs, based on the information that was gathered by the surveys. The site will be kept updated as the committees make suggestions for improvement.

We welcome your partnership and feedback on this process.

All the best for 2019,

Lloyd Munjanja

Martin Gruebele

 
 

Spring 2019 Committee Members

Diversity Committee
Lloyd Munjanja (chair)
Joaquín Rodríguez López (faculty)
Lauren Hagler (Zimmerman grad student)
Steve Zimmerman (faculty)
José Andino (instructional faculty)
Gayle Adkisson (IMPA staff)
Nick Pino (Chan grad student)
Ericka Parker (Hergenrother postdoc)

Climate Committee
Wilfred van der Donk (chair)
Nancy Makri (faculty)
Elise McCarren (instructional faculty)
Lloyd Munjanja (staff)
Kara Metcalf (OCB staff)
Marina Philip (Sweedler grad student)
Connor Delaney (Denmark grad student)
Lily Robertson (Moore postdoc)