Professor contributes to nationwide university diversity initiatives

Physics professor and Women’s Studies Center Director Yesim Darici visited Yale University to evaluate the diversity initiatives of its physics department.

A member of the American Physical Society Committee on Minorities, Darici has written a guest editorial about FIU’s best practices regarding underrepresented minorities for the society’s newsletter.

Darici was part of an elite team organized by the American Physical Society Committee on the Status of Women in Physics. Comprised of deans and department chairpersons from renowned U.S. universities, the group visited Yale to evaluate the climate for women and minorities within the physics department at the university.

From left to right: Ed Bertschinger (Chair, physics department, MIT); Mary James (Reed College); Yesim Darici, Senta Victoria Greene (Executive Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Vanderbilt University); Mary Hall Reno (Chair, physics department, University of Iowa)

From left to right: Edmund Bertschinger (Chair, Department of Physics, MIT); Mary James (professor, Reed College); Yesim Darici, Senta Victoria Greene (Executive Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Vanderbilt University); Mary Hall Reno (Chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Iowa)

“I was honored to be in such company,” said Darici. “I went in very confident and well-prepared to make an assessment because of the work we are doing here at FIU with the NSF ADVANCE grant.”

A component of the ADVANCE grant is the Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence (STRIDE) committee. Every semester, the STRIDE committee hosts a series of workshops for faculty members covering topics related to diversity and equal opportunity in terms of faculty hiring and promotion processes. FIU also provides the Faculty Mentor Program as institutional support for the ADVANCE grant. The program is a joint effort between the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Engineering and Computing.

“Yale is already doing a lot without an ADVANCE grant,” said Darici. “However, their faculty mentor program needs some work and FIU’s own program can serve as an example of an effective mentoring program.”

Prior to the visit to Yale, the team conducted an online climate survey of undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and staff. The group evaluated the results and conducted individual interviews with members of the physics department as part of their assessment.

“Yale is taking progressive steps toward diversity and inclusiveness as they understand how it contributes to university excellence,” said Darici. “As part of FIU’s University Access and Equity Committee, I am privileged to serve as an insider to institutions like Yale and be able to network and share ideas for good practices.”

A philosophy professor from University of Dayton shadowed the team during the two-day visit at Yale. Darici hopes they can implement some diversity initiatives in Ohio as well and that other universities take note.

By Ayleen Barbel Fattal

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