The University Record, January 10, 1994

Commission calls for development of strategic plan

By Rebecca A. Doyle

At the end of its fourth year, the President’s Advisory Commission on Women’s Issues has issued a set of recommendations to further its aims of increasing gender equity and making the University a national leader in promoting the success of women as faculty, staff and students.

“Achieving this goal will require vision, leadership and commitment,” wrote the commission. “It will require the investment of University resources in women and in programs that serve them, as well as accountability throughout the institution.

“As a first step, we ask the University to develop a strategic plan to move the University into a position of national prominence in regard to gender equity.”

The commission has proposed that such a plan establish five basic goals:

  • Integrate goals of gender equity and women’s full participation into the University’s strategic planning and administrative process.

  • Hire significantly more women faculty, particularly at senior ranks, and increase retention at all ranks.

  • Increase the representation of women in University leadership and administration.

  • Address the long-term academic and professional pipeline issue.

  • Create a University climate that fosters the success of women faculty, staff and students.

    “The 1993 recommendations underscore my belief that the University of Michigan is far from where it should be—from where it must be—in creating an institution that provides a full array of opportunities for women students, faculty and staff,” says President James J. Duderstadt.

    “This report calls for the University to develop a strategic plan to move the University of Michigan into a position of national prominence in regard to gender equity, and I am currently moving ahead to develop such a comprehensive plan.”

    The largest set of recommendations relates to increasing women’s presence and success in academic life. They include:

    Increase representation of women in University leadership and administrative positions

  • Appoint more women as executive officers, associate vice presidents and provosts, and as deans and associate deans.

  • Identify and prepare a pool of faculty women to assume senior leadership positions.

  • Improve retention of women leaders and address institutional climate issues that negatively affect recruiting and retention of those women.

  • Ensure gender balance on advisory committees to the president and provost and recognize and reward the additional workload this would impose.

  • Appoint more women to named professorships to recognize their contributions.

    Hire significantly more faculty women, particularly in senior ranks, and increase retention in all ranks

  • Make SHARE funds available to schools and colleges for retention as well as hiring of senior women. (SHARE funds are designed to help departments in which senior women are underrepresented. For instance, a unit that has an opening for an assistant professor may discover a senior woman it wants to hire to fill the spot. SHARE funds cover the salary differences.)

  • Increase the proportion of women of color on the faculty and improve retention and promotion rates. Analyze the Target of Opportunity, Minority Faculty Fund, Research Fund and SHARE programs in terms of race and gender, and correct any imbalances that are discovered. Encourage deans and chairs to recognize and respond to the exceptionally heavy workload carried by women of color faculty.

  • Revise the tenure and promotion policy to provide for a review of negative decisions affecting all women as well as men of color, and disclose the membership of internal tenure and review committees. Give faculty under review the opportunity to remove one member of the review committee.

  • Create a faculty service incentive program.

  • Develop creative responses to the needs of dual-career couples, beginning with providing assistance to partners seeking employment.

  • Direct human resources and affirmative action to annually review salaries of at least 20 percent of faculty for gender equity and recommend adjustments as necessary.

    Integrate goals of gender equity and women’s full participation into strategic planning and administrative initiatives

  • Implement annual self-review

    of gender equity in the schools and colleges.

  • Fully implement the policy prohibiting sexual harassment.

  • Develop a program of management training for chairs, deans and senior administrators.

    Address faculty and staff personnel issues

  • Ensure that any flexible benefits program adopted by the University meets the needs of women faculty and staff members.

  • Create a half-time ombuds position for the Medical Center and one for Central Campus to provide informal dispute resolution alternatives to the formal grievance process.

    Improve the climate for women students

  • Improve security for graduate students through education and outreach and available after-hours parking.

  • Create a high-level task force to investigate and address the needs of students with family and dependent-care responsibilities.

  • Deliver training and other informational programming on gender and the academic climate to academic University units.

    The commission noted that statistics in the 1993 Women at the University of Michigan, Vol. II report demonstrate that women comprise only a very small percentage of the Ann Arbor tenured or tenure-track faculty, that the proportion of women in senior administrative decreased from 30 percent in 1990 to only 22 percent in 1992, that there is only one woman executive officer, and that there are currently no women who hold appointments as distinguished university professors. (In the entire history of the Univerwity, only one woman has held such a position.)

    “In closing,” the commission wrote, “we want to reiterate our commitment to fundamental change at the University of Michigan and to becoming a national leader in fostering gender equity and women’s success in higher education.

    “If we are to succeed, we must make women’s success a primary institutional goal against which actions are measured.”