The Ivy+ Faculty Advancement Network named six Dartmouth faculty leaders as fellows to join the consortium’s yearlong Institute on Inquiry, Equity, and Leadership in the Academic Department.
The network’s member universities, made up of the Ivy League and similar institutions, together send a cohort of about 50 faculty leaders to “join a series of world-class scholars in higher education to help us examine academic routines, center equity in policies and norms, and ultimately lead more inclusive departments,” according to FAN.
“Our faculty fellows will be engaging with academic peers from across FAN member institutions to ideate and gain new insights on inclusive practices that they can bring back to their campus departments,” says Shontay Delalue, senior vice president and senior diversity officer at Dartmouth and a co-chair of FAN.
“This collaboration is built on a series of ‘inquiries’ that examine climate and culture in the areas that these leaders have the greatest discretion to make improvements. The goal is to provide faculty leaders with tools to create equitable and inclusive spaces in their departments, across the campus, and within the academy,” Delalue says.
The Ivy+ fellows were nominated by their deans and selected based on their leadership roles in departments, programs, or institutes and for their commitment to inclusive and equitable leadership, says Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Dean Lacy, a professor of government who serves on FAN’s executive and steering committees.
Dartmouth’s fellows from STEM are Professor of Computer Science Devin Balkcom, chair of computer science, and Professor of Biological Sciences Magdalena Bezanilla, Ernest Everett Just 1907 Professor and a professor in the molecular and cellular biology graduate program.
The fellow representing the professional schools is Geisel professor Michael Whitfield, chair of the Department of Biomedical Data Science, director of the Center for Quantitative Biology, and co-director of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Big Data in the Life Sciences Training Program.
Fellows in the humanities are Associate Professor of German Studies Veronika Fuechtner, the chair of comparative literature and affiliate faculty in Jewish Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Associate Professor of Studio Art Tricia Treacy, chair of the Department of Studio Art; and Associate Professor of Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies Desirée Garcia, an affiliate of Film and Media Studies who is participating in the program as an inaugural Mellon Leadership Fellow.
The fellowship includes a series of six workshop sessions over the next academic year, kicking off in September at Columbia University. The first convening will include gatherings and discussions around the inquiry topic “equity-minded workloads by design,” and the fellows will be organized into “crews” of peers with whom they will be meeting most often, though not exclusively, over the course of the year.
At their sixth and final meeting in April, held at the University of Pennsylvania, the fellows will design and propose guidelines for interventions likely to yield systemic improvements in diversity and inclusion in the American professoriate.
The Ivy+ FAN fellows shared their thoughts about the program.
I’d like to learn how we can most successfully engage students from diverse backgrounds in computer science. How might we think about structuring our introductory courses to be most welcoming and effective? I’d also like to learn about what approaches have been most successful in building, and strengthening, a vibrant and diverse community of undergraduate and graduate students who support each other both online and in person.
As interest in computer science has continued to explode, we expect to hire new faculty over the coming years. I’d like to understand how we can reach the broadest group of potential faculty members working in the computer science field, and how we can attract strong teachers and scientists to join and support our diverse community.
I’m honored to have been nominated as an Ivy+ FAN fellow. I have a longstanding commitment to increasing diversity in STEM. As an undergraduate, I was a physics major where I became acutely aware of the lack of diversity in my classes and among my professors. In fact, it was this lack of diversity that in part caused me to switch gears in graduate school and pursue a PhD in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology.
If I had seen myself, a Hispanic woman, more well-represented in physics, I might have pursued a career in physics. All that is water under the bridge, as I have been very happy and successful as a cell biologist. However, as I teach cell biology to undergraduates, I am reminded of how important representation and diversity are to all disciplines, especially in STEM. I am eager to meet with peers at other institutions to learn more about how we can attain a more diverse and equitable STEM environment from the undergraduate classroom to the faculty offices.
I look forward to participating in the Ivy+ program as a way of understanding how other institutions foster diversity and equity, and how Dartmouth as an institution can do better in collaboration with other institutions. I do think that transparency and accountability in the way faculty are supported and mentored throughout their careers is crucial.
I look forward to collectively coming up with sustainable long-term strategies that ensure that everyone on campus feels committed to diversity and invests in this commitment beyond recruitment.
If we know anything about how change happens, we know that it must come from above and below. My own experience with the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (first as an MMUF awardee and subsequently as a mentor) has taught me that a committed investment in the diversification of the professoriate, and by extension our academic institutions, can effect real change. I am thrilled that the Mellon Foundation has committed to effecting change at the level of academic administration.
I look forward to working with the Ivy+ Faculty Advancement Network to learn from my cohort members and to bring those lessons to Dartmouth. I see the fellowship as an opportunity to make change both within the administration and outside of it, expanding the demographics of academic leadership as well as addressing the challenges that face people of color at this institution.
Representing Dartmouth as a 2023-2024 Ivy+ FAN fellow will bring productive conversations, interdisciplinary inquiry, and new perspectives amongst a diverse group of academic leaders. It couldn’t be timelier and more crucial after the recent Supreme Court affirmative action decision. I’m looking forward to collaborating with my Dartmouth colleagues on this important work.
Participating in the Ivy+ Faculty Advancement Network will allow me to learn how colleagues in other fields have advanced equity, diversity, and inclusion in their own departments and among their trainees. I believe it is extremely important that data science researchers and our trainees bring diverse backgrounds and unique perspectives when considering the problems of the future.
I hope that becoming part of this network will enable me to work with the other fellows and key thought leaders to further develop my own leadership skills to address problems in equity, diversity, and inclusion within my department and more broadly at the Geisel School of Medicine and Dartmouth.