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Climate & Diversity in the Workplace

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Our Department's Climate & Diversity Committee was formed in response to the following charge from our Dean, Daniel Larson.

The responsibilities of the departmental committees are as follows:

  • To provide a safe place for all individuals to confidentially raise issues and concerns relating to climate and diversity within the department and college.
  • To identify issues at the departmental level in regards to climate and diversity, and develop plans to address these issues.
  • To disseminate information from the college climate and diversity committee to department faculty, staff, and students.
  • To work with the college committee in developing a mechanism for collecting and responding to feedback on issues and concerns relating to climate and diversity.
  • To annually report the committee’s activities.

Climate & Diversity Committee members:

Matthew Ferrari, faculty, committee chair
Charles Fisher, faculty
Stephanie Gookin, staff
Heather Hines, faculty
David Kennedy, postdoctoral scholar
Todd LaJeunesse, faculty
Tracie Mehalick, staff
Denise Woodward, faculty

Ombudsmen

Each department in the College of Science has two ombudsmen that have been charged to provide a safe and informal environment for individuals to discuss problems and issues outside of formal channels. Carla Hass (cah19@psu.edu) and Stephen Schaeffer (sws4@psu.edu) are the ombudsmen for the Department of Biology.
Any issue may be brought to the attention of the ombudsmen.  The ombudsman can help develop strategies, clarify interests and goals, and identify other resources at the university that may be available to assist in certain situations.  It is also important to note that speaking to the ombudsman does not constitute notice to the university.  The ombudsmen will not disclose any information provided in confidence (the only exception to this rule being a potential risk to safety or if a crime was committed).
The ombudsmen serve as complements to the HR office to provide an environment that encourages the use of multiple options to resolve issues and increase communication. They can serve as a first contact in the resolution of intradepartmental issues. Although ombudsmen do not have the power to change rules or polices, they can help identify common and reoccurring issues that could be addressed department or college-wide.  If at any time you feel that you cannot go to one of our ombudsmen, feel free to contact the HR office with any and all issues that you have.

Associate Head for Diversity & Equity

A major goal of our College's strategic plan is to enhance the diversity of our faculty, staff, and students and ensure equitable policies and practices. To help implement this goal Monica Medina has been appointed as Associate Head for Diversity and Equity for the Biology Department. The duties of this position as outlined by our College are to:

  • Monitor faculty hiring processes and practices to ensure that applicant pools match national availability.
  • Obtain and share knowledge about gender and race equity literature.
  • Work to increase the number of faculty offers made to minority candidates.
  • Advise and confer with the Department Promotion and Tenure to promote equity.
  • Encourage recruitment, acceptance, and matriculation of minority graduate students and post-docs.
  • Participate in local and national workshops on gender and race issues.

Concerns About Climate & Diversity in The Biology Department?

The Biology Department strives to nurture a climate of mutual respect among all individuals. If you have an issue which you feel pertains to the climate in the Department or College and would like to bring it to the attention of the department's Climate & Diversity Committee, and/or the department's Climate/Diversity ombudspersons, please contact any member of the Climate & Diversity Committee, listed above. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may instead type your comments into the box at the bottom of this page. Your message will be viewed by a Climate & Diversity Committee member and addressed as appropriate. Your identity will not be known unless you disclose it.