Category Archives: Institutional Climate

Advising PhD Students: Innovative Instructor

Check out the most recent post on the Innovative Instructor blog from JHU’s Center for Educational Resources, including fresh advice from Science:coffee cup

  1. Approach the power dynamic between mentor and mentee by invoking relevant research. Aspects of mentoring line up with aspects of parenting; to say this is not to infantilize students but rather to acknowledge the power difference as well as (often) the generational difference—and to avoid reinventing the wheel. Research shows the benefits of “authoritativeness, which is defined by both high expectations and high attentiveness; offering a safe haven in times of distress; and fostering a secure base to promote exploration.”
  2. Communicate your confidence in students’ abilities and potential. Again, from the research: “if students think their professors believe that only a few special people have intellectual potential, it can harm their sense of belonging and their performance.”
  3. Model a growth mindset, and “help mentees embrace failure as growth.” One of the authors, Jay J. Van Bavel, shares his unofficial bio alongside his formal one. Some faculty circulate failure CVs.

(The whole article, from March 2019, is here: “Three research-based lessons to improve your mentoring”)

And these closing remarks from JHU Vice Provost for Integrative Learning and Life Design Farouk Dey: “Try not to ask [students] ‘What do you want to do?’ Instead ask, ‘What has inspired you lately?’ ‘What action can you take to turn that inspiration into reality and how can I help you with that?’”

You are invited: Celebrate diversity awards with Prof Karen Fleming at 3:30pm today, Charles Commons, Salon A

The Provost and Diversity Leadership Council will be celebrating staff, faculty, and students who work toward diversity & inclusion at all nine divisions of Hopkins. Come cheer for them, including WFF@H co-chair and biophysics phenom Karen Fleming (really! read her American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology feature interview). Plus, snacks.

(Not sure where Salon A is? Just come in the door on 33rd street near Insomnia Cookies and walk/elevate upstairs. There will be a sign.)

Hope you can come.

About the image: Theodor Svedberg, who won the Nobel Prize in 1926 and invented the analytical ultracentrifuge, which measures the size of molecules. He also, in 1955, needed new drapes, so he designed his own. They featured squares that looked like this; Dr. Fleming has this fabric in her office.

Snapshot: From the Office of Karen Fleming

Prof Karen Fleming wins Provost’s Diversity Prize!

In my happiest post in the history of WFF@H, I am thrilled to write that my co-chair, biophysics professor Karen Fleming, won this year’s Provost’s Prize for Faculty Excellence in Diversity!!

Please join her Wednesday (tomorrow–May 15) at 3:30 in Charles Commons Salon A to celebrate. All are welcome!

It’s hard to put into words how fabulous this is not just for Karen but also for all the people–across genders, ranks, and campuses–who are trying to create and sustain a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable Hopkins.

Fortunately, I don’t have to put it into words because I can borrow Karen’s (excerpted from her full nomination essay):

What difference can one person make? And could that be worthy of this prestigious Provost’s Prize for Diversity? One example of the impact of my work is summarized by a black female PhD student I met at Oberlin College after I conducted a workshop on Bystander Intervention there. While I was packing up, she came to the podium, thanked me and shared, “I’ve never heard an actual, real, live scientist talk about diversity and inclusion before. I am so grateful.

This student’s comment gets to the heart of what the STEM pipeline actually is. We need to know its structure in order to fix it. And I argue that we the people – each one of us – form the so-called STEM pipeline. We are its core structural elements. Especially as faculty, we are the lives and souls of universities. What this means is that we have met the enemies to equity, and it is us. The institutional transformation we so urgently need is not the metamorphosis of a nameless, faceless entity that is someone else’s problem. Rather, our institutions are composed of people: presidents, provosts, deans, faculty, staff, and students.

Carry on, everyone–


Building diverse leadership: Michigan’s college of engineering

Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 7.37.16 AMIn the Chronicle article “An Engineering School With Half of Its Leadership Female? How Did That Happen?”  Alec D. Gallimore, the dean of University of Michigan College of Engineering, traces Michigan’s progress to work begun back in 2001 through an ADVANCE grant. A quick excerpt (although the whole article deserves a read):

Often when I tell people that we have filled half of the top leadership positions at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering with women, I can almost see the unspoken assumption in many of their eyes: They think we did it by passing over better-qualified male candidates.

At the 10 U.S. engineering schools with the largest research budgets, women make up about 17 percent of the faculty. It’s always noticed when women constitute a higher-than-usual proportion of an engineering college’s leadership, but somehow we don’t make the same assumptions about talent when all of a school’s top positions are filled by men.

In our case, the numerical skew toward hiring women comes from expecting more — not less — of our top administrators. Being an accomplished engineer is still a requirement, but it is no longer sufficient. Our leaders also need to be able to see and articulate biases in the organization and propose ways to counter them. It turned out that the women who were hired as leaders in our latest round performed better on those measures.

Dean Gallimore offers this advice:

  • Find out where your playing field isn’t level. [gather data]
  • Train your hiring committees to challenge unconscious biases.
  • To cultivate leaders, ensure equal access to mentors. [launch committees]
  • Redefine “merit” to include “taking inequality seriously.”
  • Diversity is not a charitable cause. It’s about staying competitive.


Yale’s Ethnicity, Race, & Migration Program Loses 13 Tenured Professors

Key terms: URM; programs (v. department); labor; tenure review.Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 1.32.54 PM


When 13 professors at Yale University said on Friday they would cut ties with the institution’s ethnicity, race, and migration program, they said their decision was rooted in a history of inequity.

The professors, all senior-level scholars, said the program had been stuck in a vulnerable position for years, without the hiring authority, resources, or stability that departments and other programs have. And despite promises from senior administrators, the faculty members, many of whom are scholars of color, said nothing had changed.

So they resigned from the program en masse, in hopes of sending a message that the model — a “formula of borrowed labor,” one professor called it — was unsustainable.

Read more here: “Yale Professors’ Protest Casts Doubt on a Big Faculty-Diversity Initiative:”