Interview with Dr. Lynne Davidson

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Interviews Dr. Gupta interviewed Dr. Lynne Davidson, Chair of the Task Force on Faculty Diversity and Inclusiveness at the University of Rochester on October 24 2006. Dr. Lynne J. Davidson, Deputy to the President, has served the University as Deputy to the President since July 2005 and Assistant Professor in Community and Preventive Medicine since January 2003.  She recently chaired the University Task Force on Faculty Diversity and Inclusiveness. Davidson previously served as University of Rochester Associate Provost. As a member of the University administration, she also has had staff responsibility for the reaccreditation of the University, the submission and first year implementation of the Kauffman Entrepreneurship grant, and the 2004 University Presidential Search Committee. Davidson earned her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Rochester, M.P.A. at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, and B.A. in Political Science and Economics at Northwestern University. The Task Force made 31 recommendations to President Seligman and the President has enthusiastically embraced these recommendations. The full report is available on the University of Rochester’s website.

Dr. Gupta: Why was the Task Force created? Why now?
Dr. Davidson: President Seligman assumed office on July 1, 2005. As part of the search for a new President, the university community developed a white paper articulating five key goals essential to the success of our university. One of the five goals focused on increasing campus diversity. President Seligman has a successful track record in this area.

Dr. Gupta: What was the focus of the Task Force?
Dr. Davidson: This task force focused exclusively on faculty diversity. The University of Rochester is a highly decentralized institution, made up of six schools. Many efforts to increase student diversity are ongoing at the school level. Our Office of Human Resources also has begun a program to increase the diversity of our staff university-wide. But the issue of faculty diversity is very complex, and while many of our schools have made heroic efforts to address the issue, we believed that as a University, there was much more we could do.

Dr. Gupta: What was the campus reaction to this report?
Dr. Davidson: The campus has enthusiastically embraced this report. There is a great deal of energy and commitment to become a diverse campus and to make newcomers feel welcome and accepted in our community. The purpose of this task force was to identify concrete steps to becoming a more diverse and welcoming community, including providing the necessary resources. Some key recommendations of the Task Force include hiring a University faculty diversity officer; changing faculty policy on promotion and tenure to allow for more flexibility for faculty with child care and other family needs; establishing standards to ensure that new faculty searches are inclusive; increasing a special opportunities fund to take advantage of opportunities to enhance faculty diversity; and creating an annual report on the status, progress, and challenge.

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About Dr. Gupta

Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the Founder and President of STEM.SMART, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the pipeline of U.S students interested in STEM careers. In addition, she is the CEO of PlanetGPA, an international student recruitment services that serves as an extension to the recruitment offices of U.S. universities.

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