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Updated 9:00 AM March 20, 2009

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Lecture to focus on recruitment, retention of women of color

Leaders of the Women of Color in the Academy Project (WOCAP) say the first-ever State of Women of Color Faculty at the University address later this month will focus on challenges and solutions to diversifying the faculty.

The address, Are YOU Ready for the Diagnosis?, is intended to "invite dialogue within the University community about the state of recruitment, retention and promotion of women of color faculty across ranks, departments and units," according to WOCAP.

The address will be 4-6 p.m. March 24, Rackham Amphitheatre, 4th Floor.

Panelists include:

• Gloria Thomas, director of the Center for the Education of Women

• Abby Stewart, director of U-M ADVANCE, Sandra Schwartz Tangri Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies

• Aimee Cox, assistant professor of African-American and African studies, Rutgers University

• Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs, senior counselor to the president for the arts, diversity and undergraduate affairs, and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Music (ethnomusicology)

The discussion will be moderated by B.J. Evans, emeritus professor of chemistry and past chair of the Committee for a Multicultural University.

There have been some improvements in recruitment and retention, but the changes have not been as rapid as hoped, WOCAP leaders say. From 1985 to present, women of color at the full professor rank have increased from less than 1 percent to approximately 3 percent of the total faculty at the institution. Women of color faculty have increased at a higher rate among those in the assistant and associate professor ranks, however, across all ethnic minority groups women of color comprise 12 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

WOCAP leaders also are concerned about systemic barriers for women of color — particularly at the third year review and tenure stages — both in terms of valuation of their unique and often-increased teaching and service contributions, as well as their innovative and often culturally specific programs of research.

In terms of retention, women of color faculty left the University at a rate of five women per year between 2001-06.

"We hope to develop interventions which will lead to the successful recruitment and retention of women of color, as well as improve classroom environments, departmental climates and service contributions," says Robin Means Coleman, associate professor of communication studies and AfroAmerican and African Studies, and WOCAP Steering Committee member.

The panelists will discuss local and national tenure statistics for women of color faculty, the effectiveness of current diversity initiatives, the impact of the ban on affirmative action policies on institutional climate and issues of accountability. A moderated discussion will follow brief presentations. The goal is to provide a forum wherein to discuss areas of concern and promising practices.

WOCAP highlights contributions women of color make to the University community and to society at large and builds a campuswide network of women of color faculty. It is jointly funded by CEW and the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic and Multicultural Affairs.

Register by March 20 at or call 764-6005.

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