The University Record, April 2, 1996

Women's Action Committee gets pointers on pursuing goals of Agenda for Women 

By Rebecca A Doyle

President James J. Duderstadt said he would "continue to be quite outspoken" and to play a continuing role in women's issues at the University.

Duderstadt spoke briefly at the meeting of the Women's Action Committee last week. Asked what goals and accomplishments might be made before June 30, when he will step down as president of the University, Duderstadt said his administration will & quot;do as much as we can" but that the most important issue was to see that the "torch is passed" to the interim and following administration.

Jackie McClain, director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action, and Carol Hollenshead, director of the Center for the Education of Women and chair of the President's Advisory Commission on Women's Issues, will both be involved in that transition, he said, as will Provost J. Bernard Machen and Homer A. Neal, who will be interim president of the University.

Expressing concern that sometimes those at higher levels in organizations don't really understand the issues that are faced by women in institutions like the U-M, several women asked how to make sure that all are heard, including those who may have a valid but different point of view. There are lots of people, they said, whosevoices aren't being heard.

First, Duderstadt responded, it is important to "speak in a unified voice." Rather than having several factions all asking for considerations, it is more effective to have a large number of women supporting a single issue.

"The University of Michigan is one of the few universities in the country where governance is political in nature," Duderstadt also noted. The Regents, he said, would be responsive to their constituents since they are an elected body.

"You have every right to express your views to them, as much as any other resident in this state. You elect them."

He also said that sustaining the effort to advance the role of women in the University will be a challenge because of the changes in leadership that will soon occur, and that the Agenda for Women will face a "new style of populism pretending that the commitment we made to social change does not exis t."

He urged members of the Women's Action Committee to communicate informally with those who will be key people in the near future Machen and Neal.

"Keep the heat on," he said. "Make sure the Agenda stays an issue." Duderstadt said that he regrets that he does not have two or three more years to ensure that the Agenda for Women is as firmly in place as the Michigan Mandate.

Following his talk, Cathy Conway-Perrin and Carol Hollenshead presented Duderstadt with a certificate of recognition for the part he has played in furthering gender equity.