Remarks upon Release of the 2003 “Women at the University of Michigan” Report
October 2, 2003
Hutchins Hall/Law School
Thank you, Regent McGowan, for the kind introduction.
I also would like to thank Carol Hollenshead for her excellent summary of the report findings and, of course, for CEW’s work in spearheading this major research initiative. I cannot help but be optimistic about such progress, and yet I am well aware that there is more work to do.
Beyond today’s presentation, the University of Michigan owes quite a bit to Carol. As director of Center for the Education of Women and chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Women’s Issues, she is a force for change and inquiry throughout the University. And, specifically, in terms of the report we are looking at today: Carol’s leadership is crucial to the high standards, integrity, and ultimately the usefulness of this report. And we thank her!
The series of four “Status of Women” reports over the years constitutes
a practical example of the truism: “What gets measured gets done.” Thanks
to the solid work by Carol’s research team, we can measure the cumulative
utility of these reports by the substantial improvements reflected in the data
we see today.
These studies are an authoritative source and a remarkably comprehensive collection of data sets, giving us an accurate picture of our progress and our challenges.
The subject of women in the academy is an increasingly popular topic. In the Chronicle of Higher Education and other publications that focus on academe in the United States, as well as in the mainstream media, we are discussed with increasing frequency.
Why? Because we constitute fully one-half of the world’s human capital. Our contributions are essential to the advancement of our country and our world. Progress will be impeded unless we are in a position to contribute to the fullest extent possible. Given the opportunity, we have provided value in all sectors of the workplace and to society as a whole. Increasing numbers of corporate executives and skilled trades workers, government and military leaders, cutting edge researchers, innovative teachers — and yes, university presidents — have presented our world with a new concept of the face of leadership.
It is important to note that this discussion has been going on at the University of Michigan for decades. We began in 1964, when CEW — one of the first public university-based initiatives of its kind — began its work. Then we established the Institute for Research on Women and Gender — one of the best, if not the best academic institute of its kind in the country. This university is a trailblazer, advancing the serious discussion of women’s presence and status, contributions and potential in the academy. We are glad the rest of the country is catching up with us, and we are pleased to continue to lead the way!
The report on “Women at the University of Michigan” is an important outcome of this environment, in which the study of women is a high priority. It gives us a clear snapshot of women at Michigan — and there is a great deal of good news here.
We have made significant progress on the status of women in tenured faculty positions. The number and proportion of women in executive leadership positions at Michigan, both academic and administrative, is nationally distinctive. The number of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees granted to women continues to grow, although much work remains to be done in recruitment and retention of women students of color.
The numbers are not as good when we look at the assistant professor
data, and at our ability to draw adequately from the national pool
In both the faculty and staff ranks, it is clear we must work to improve the representation of women of color at all levels.
One key aspect of this report is its examination of the status of staff. This is especially important in academia, where staff concerns and interests seem to fall behind core academic priorities, like classrooms and laboratories, grant proposal deadlines and tenure reviews.
I want to take a few minutes to acknowledge eight Michigan women who have achieved significant success in roles and at leadership levels that have often eluded women:
In the 1970s, Diane Ake took an entirely unique path to our future. Diane was a pioneer in the Trades at Michigan, becoming the first woman to work as a window washer – suspended by a rope, several stories above the ground. She soon left the window crew to become the University’s first female Maintenance Mechanic. And then, in 1989, she again made history as the first woman to join the Sheet Metal Shop. Diane, who retired from the University in 2001, had planned to be here this afternoon, but sent her regrets today. She’s doing emergency day care duty with her granddaughter instead!
Kitty Bridges: May I ask you to stand to be recognized, please?
As executive director of ITCS, Katherine (Kitty) Bridges runs an organization that is responsible for the networking and telecommunications infrastructure of the University, and also of user services for all students, faculty, and staff. Kitty has just the right balance of technical expertise and commitment to the University common good. She values both the people who report to her and the all the campus constituents ITCS serves.
Valerie Castle [stand, please] is the first woman in the Medical School to be appointed a department chair — of the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the Health System. Val’s research focuses on the pediatric solid tumor neuroblastoma, and she is an expert on the clinical management of this disease. Val is also an associate provost for academic and faculty affairs in our Provost’s office.
Sue Gott [stand, please] became the University of Michigan’s newest University Planner one year ago, this week. Sue is responsible for directing University-wide campus planning, assisting design teams, developing and implementing plans, overseeing construction projects and programs on all campuses, in addition to providing administrative and operational direction of the activities of the Office of the university Planner.
Laura Patterson, would you also stand, please?
Provost Courant told me that we hired Laura Patterson — now our associate vice president for Administrative Information Services — as registrar, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Laura immediately became involved in broader campus-wide issues involving data, data integrity and management systems. She chaired a task force and then assumed the charge of the monumental project of implementing the PeopleSoft software and new data management process across the campus. The scope of the project was awesome, to say the least, and her colleagues say she has shown the keen ability to lead effective change in our very decentralized and complex environment.
Laurita Thomas [stand, please] is one of the most well-known and highly regarded administrators at the University of Michigan. Laurita serves as the director of Human Resources for the Health System, a position of enormous responsibilities and scope. Laurita, in addition to her wisdom and service orientation, is known to be a powerful advocate for staff on our campus and a wonderful example of many of the values we will discuss today.
Judy Van Horn [stand, please] is an Associate Athletic Director of Compliance Services in our Department of Athletics. I have worked closely with Judy since I joined the University last year, and know first-hand of her competence and great knowledge of intercollegiate athletics. Judy is extremely well-respected on a national level and I was proud to tell the NCAA Infractions Committee this past year of the work Judy has done to ensure our athletic programs comply with NCAA regulations.
Marilyn Knepp [stand, please], the University’s associate vice president for University Budget, Planning, and Administration, has a fascinating history. Her story is a wonderful illustration of identifying, nurturing and promoting talent in our staff ranks. After getting her start as an elementary school teacher, Marilyn entered the University in a clerical position — a Secretary III. She worked her way up to the level of director of what was then the Office of Academic Planning and Analysis, earning an MBA along the way. Nancy Cantor promoted Marilyn to assistant provost for budget and planning and then to associate vice president — and now, Marilyn is responsible for the whole of the academic budget and planning process across the entire University.
While the University is doing well, especially relative to our earlier years, we are not at the level of gender participation that the University wants to — and will — achieve.
Diversity often is thought of in simple terms. Because of our high-profile defense of the admissions lawsuits, it is easy to assume that we define this complex concept only in terms of our students. In reality, however, the parameters of diversity reach far beyond our student community and cannot be captured in a simple “black and white” portrait. In all segments of our community — among our faculty, our staff, and our students — we benefit from diversity of thought and perspective, opinion and ideology, point of origin, gender, and socio-economic status. We need the voice of the Daughters of the American Revolution and that of the immigrant. And, we must tap the intellectual and skilled capital of every hue and ethnicity. Our community is a rich tapestry, and must become increasingly so, at all levels.
So, how do we take the University to the next step?
An important model for institutional change is found in the successful ADVANCE program, from which we continue to learn many important lessons. The goal of ADVANCE is to reverse the pattern of isolation and marginalization among academic women. As reported just a couple of weeks ago, during the first year of our participation in the NSF-funded ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Program, we have made significant progress in hiring and retaining women faculty scientists and engineers, especially in LS&A, Engineering, and the Medical School. In just one year, ADVANCE has contributed to the successful recruitment of at least 43 new women science and engineering faculty on either the instructional or tenure track — 30 assistant professors, 10 associate professors and 3 full professors, in all.
In fact, I would like to share with you an achievement that will be captured in the next report on the status of women at Michigan, a few years hence: This has been one of our most successful recruitment seasons for women faculty in several years, especially in the assistant professor ranks, which have been so challenging to us. Our new female assistant professors have arrived this fall, throughout the University — in history, anthropology, natural resources, sociology, romance languages, English, comparative literature, film & video studies, American culture, and women’s studies. They are also moving into offices in chemistry, civil and environmental engineering, computer science, microbiology and immunology, neurology, urban planning, epidemiology and social work.
We are making a concerted effort around the University to apply the ADVANCE outlook and approach. At the first meeting of his Academic Program Group this fall, Provost Paul Courant and LS&A Dean Terry McDonald focused on the recruitment of women faculty. Through this and other means, we will continue to encourage improvements in our faculty numbers.
Before we leave the subject of the extraordinary accomplishments of the ADVANCE initiative, I would like to acknowledge 2 individuals who are at the center of this success story:
- Abby Stewart, LS&A Associate Dean, and PI and Director of ADVANCE at Michigan
- and, Pamela Raymond, co-PI with Abby on the ADVANCE grant.
Our Office of Human Resources and Affirmative Action works hard to improve the climate of our workplace for all our staff and faculty. To this end, HRAA is involved in two important new initiatives. They are in the final stages of choosing the first director of our new Office of Institutional Equity, whose job responsibilities will include improvements in the job climate and environment at Michigan. HRAA also is progressing well in its efforts to rework the University’s job classification system. When it is implemented, this new system will assure a fairer, more transparent structure. Consistent with the spirit of today’s discussion, HRAA is building data collection tools into the new system that will improve our ability to monitor hiring and promotion trends. That means we will be able reward managers’ staffing successes and zero in on problem areas with an acuity and speed not now possible.
But our lives, even our lives at work, are not all about the classroom, research laboratory, and office. Although it may sound ephemeral, quality-of-life is an absolute concept. Its importance is central to the success of the University overall, and of women within the University, in particular. We reinforce this message at every opportunity throughout the University’s structure.
Many of our achievements in this area are the result of the leadership of our former Provost, Nancy Cantor, who is now Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. During her years as Provost, she developed several important new initiatives and enhanced many that had already been established.
Part of Dr. Cantor’s vision comes to life every day in HRAA’s Work/Life Resource Center, which is directed by Leslie De Pietro. Leslie does a terrific job explaining and creating awareness around the University’s policies in this area. Her office facilitates access to a broad array of services to staff, faculty, and students, including assistance in childcare and emergency back-up childcare, elder/dependent care, balancing work and personal responsibilities, and creating flexible work schedules. I would like to note that Provost Courant has expanded the student childcare scholarship fund to assure that student parents who need licensed daycare can get support, if it is needed.
On the academic side, the tenure-clock-stop and modified duties policies are extraordinary resources that can effectively assist faculty. In a recent web survey, CEW found that only a quarter of Michigan women faculty respondents reported using the tenure-clock-stop policy, and 18 percent have used the modified duties policy. Among those who chose not to use these policies, most had not needed them. However, a significant number of our faculty either did not know about the policies when they could have used them, or feared that their careers would have been negatively impacted had they done so.
These policies are more than just “on the books.” It is important that every eligible University employee has access to these initiatives if and when they need them. I feel very strongly about this. In a large, decentralized institution like the University, utilization of these sorts of resources is sometimes variable from unit to unit. We must work together to encourage a broader knowledge of these programs among all our staff, to make the programs more accessible, and to encourage all managers to make them available, without negative repercussions.
“Quality-of-life” also includes the very real issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault. These offenses are never acceptable. I spoke about this with the Regents last June, and again in September, because this topic must remain before us. Under the auspices of SAPAC and the leadership of Kelly Cichy, we are in the process of instituting an enhanced prevention and education program that will reach out to as many students as possible on our campus. Our goal is to increase overall awareness of these issues, and to ensure a safe and hospitable environment for everyone who works, studies, and lives here. Initial implementation of these educational efforts began during Summer Orientation, and will continue through the remainder of this academic year in the Residence Halls, in the Greek system, and in Athletics.
We are also actively working on a Faculty-Student Relationships Policy, which is currently under review by various faculty groups.
The recipe for continued progress is clear: articulate our expectations and put a spotlight on areas still in need of improvement, as we are doing right now, in our discussion of this report. I want to point out that the role of department chairs and unit managers is of paramount importance. We must encourage our deans and directors to work closely with their school, college and unit leadership to keep us going in the right direction.
Perhaps the most important question to all of us is: How we can encourage, throughout this great University, a culture of increased respect and regard?
I believe we should take a cue from Rachel Kaplan, the Samuel T. Dana Professor of Environment and Behavior, and her husband, psychology and engineering Professor Stephen Kaplan. Just last week, the Kaplans reported that three workplace dynamics are essential to enhance quality of life: the ability to understand and explore, the feeling that you are making a difference, and the knowledge that you are competent and effective. Even in these tight-budget times, we can all work to foster these important values.
Just as these values apply equally to everyone at Michigan, both women and men, it is important to keep in mind the “bigger picture,” as we consider the current and future status of women at the University.
I would also like to take a few minutes to relate some ideas from my “State of the University” address to SACUA earlier this week — which highlighted some of the University’s major accomplishments this past year, and outlined important next steps and opportunities for Michigan’s future.
I was very proud to represent the University of Michigan on the steps of the United States Supreme Court in June, as we celebrated a huge victory in our defense of the right to use race as one of many factors in our selective admissions process. Our commitment to diversity was heard across the land, and now, with clear guidance from the Court, we will continue to be a national leader in helping qualified students fulfill their aspirations. As you know, we launched our new undergraduate admissions process in August, and I believe the policy will enable us to continue recruiting a highly qualified and richly diverse student body.
Even with all the challenges on the economic and world fronts this past year, the University of Michigan continued with great strength and momentum in other areas, in addition to admissions. Research expenditures increased more than 14 percent this past year to $749 million — an impressive figure, and one that speaks to the quality and the productivity of Michigan’s faculty. More than half of the increase from last year is attributable to funding from NIH, and a significant component of that occurred in our external funding for the life sciences. This is an impressive and measurable impact of our increased emphasis in the life sciences, as well as an indicator of the tremendous interest and opportunity for future growth in this area.
You know how challenging the budget situation has been in the State of Michigan. I am proud of the work our campus has done to cut costs while preserving core academic activities; but I know what a difficult process it has been and continues to be. I see continued pressures on the state budget situation; and, in fact, I believe this is one of our most pressing problems. I worry deeply about declining state support to our state’s public institutions. As a nation, we simply cannot afford to abandon our commitment to providing broad access to excellent public universities. We have a great deal of work to do to articulate the value — and the necessity — of high-quality public higher education in this country.
We look to the future, to ascertain the best ways this University can continue to enhance its excellence. I see several important priorities for the University:
- We face profound questions about how we, as a University community,
live up to our ideals for a diverse democracy. How do we not only create,
but also sustain,
real diversity on this campus? We must continue to reinvigorate
our commitment to recruit and retain diverse students, faculty and staff.
I know that the eyes
of the nation are on us, with the expectation that we
will chart the future for higher education in this area.
- We are not just a great university or a great research university,
we are a great public research university. We must be a strong
voice for the importance of that
public nature and mission; and we will continue to dedicate
our intellectual firepower to the research and learning that
benefits our local and our global
A few of our major projects of the past year illustrate our impact on the public good: In addition to completion of the Life Sciences Institute Building, we dedicated the new site for the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; we broke ground on the new Cardiovascular Center in our Health System; we established the University of Michigan Depression Center, which will be a national model for research and treatment of that devastating illness; and we established the National Poverty Center in the Ford School. In January we will re-open our beautiful and historic Hill Auditorium, an important campus symbol of just how central the University of Michigan is to broad public access to the arts and cultural activity in our region.
- We will continue to dedicate ourselves to
health, wellness and the life sciences. I see our cornerstone
work with the life sciences broadening
and expanding, touching
many departments and many aspects of our academic and clinical
communities. Our Health System is an area of special distinction — what
a jewel! As I said to SACUA this week, it is really a national superstar, and
I think it is critical
asset for residents statewide. Last year, for instance, more
than 15,500 children from the state of Michigan and beyond were admitted to — or
born at! — C.S.
Mott Children’s Hospital. I have visited our Children’s
Hospital several times, most recently on Monday, and I continue
to be amazed at the miracles
that are performed there by our physicians. It is inspiring
to see the hope we are able to offer families who are facing
the impact of tragic illnesses and
- I will spend a significant amount of time embarking
on a multi-year capital campaign that will be the largest
in the University’s history. The campaign
will launch in the next calendar year. Its success will be critical to our academic
programs and facilities, and to other areas of key significance,
such as student
scholarship funding. We must continue to find ways to provide
access to students, regardless of means, and we will look to the next campaign
to help secure Michigan’s
future academic strength and vitality.
- And finally, I believe we have a secret ingredient that many other national research universities do not possess — our multidisciplinary nature. As I said on Monday, partnership is in our DNA! Michigan benefits from an environment that prizes cross-disciplinary and collaborative approaches to learning and to teaching, and I want to lower barriers so we can do even more of it in the future. Interdisciplinarity will define the science, teaching and research of the future — and Michigan will be in the lead.
With that, I will end my remarks. Now, I look forward to hearing from you.