In March, Rensselaer announced RAMP-UP (Reforming Advancement Processes through University Professions), a universitywide initiative to improve representation of female educators in academia’s influential high-ranking positions. Through a faculty retreat and a series of departmental awards, the initiative already has begun to transform the advancement experience for Rensselaer faculty.
On Sept. 29 and 30, more than 30 female faculty members traveled to Lake George to participate in a RAMP-UP faculty retreat. The event included workshops on negotiation, social networking, mid-career advancement, and positioning for tenure, as well as role-plays that mirrored the many stages of career development faced by women in science and engineering.
On Oct. 15 the RAMP-UP advisory board, under the direction of Professors Cheryl Geisler and Debbie Kaminski, announced four recipients of $10,000 Departmental Cultural Change grants. The awards will support proposed changes to build a more responsive social network within individual departments in science and engineering disciplines.
The winning departments are Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy. To participate in the grant proposal process, interested departments had to analyze retention patterns, gain their faculty’s support and commitment toward the change initiative, and develop a program that would build departmental communication and interchange. Each department also had to have hired a female professor within the last five years.
Planned changes funded by the Departmental Cultural Change grants include holding monthly lunches to discuss topical concerns including teaching and learning strategies, curriculum, or research; bringing well-known experts on gender issues to campus to interact with students and faculty; facilitating relationships between accomplished researchers and new staff; and celebrating the success of junior faculty through a variety of departmental print, Web, and video outlets, among others.
Once in place, each department will work with the RAMP-UP team led by co-principal investigators Geisler, Kaminski, and Provost Robert Palazzo to
document the effectiveness of proposed new initiatives.
The RAMP-UP effort is aimed at improving the advancement experience for Rensselaer faculty, while serving as a national model for advancement reform, according to Geisler. Key components of the effort include mentoring programs, faculty workshops, faculty advancement coaches, and pipeline searches to recruit senior women from industry or national labs.
RAMP-UP is funded by the National Science Foundation.
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