At this very cold start of the spring semester, we are happy to report that we are still feeling warm and fuzzy from our first WISE event as leaders last fall! All of your enthusiasm and energy has us ready to continue the work towards achieving our vision of a vibrant WISE for all.
Here are quick updates on what we’re working on:
First, we have 3 events in the works for spring semester. An invitation for the first, a workshop on creating a 5 Year Plan with Dean Callahan, went out last week. This will be a breakfast meeting – an experiment since we have heard, and know from our own experience, that the lunch hour does not work well for everyone. The next two events will also be held at different times – a morning workshop on balancing and planning your time sometime in March, and an afternoon social gathering in April to celebrate the year. Please let us know what you think of the different schedule, and we’ll be monitoring attendance to see which dates and times work well. Our goal with shifting the schedule around is to make sure that we are including as many unique individuals in WISE events as we can over the course of a semester, recognizing that there is no time that works well for everyone.
Second, we would like to propose changing the name of our group. There are two key reasons for this – first, the name WISE is used on many college campuses – and by another group on our own campus – to describe many different programs, most focused on undergraduate and graduate student education, and a few others focused on faculty development, like ours. We have discovered that this introduces unnecessary confusion when discussing our group with visitors or others new to campus. Second, the name WISE is exclusionary to those faculty and staff who are not directly engaged in natural or social sciences or engineering, creating a barrier to the inclusive STEAM community we are striving to cultivate on campus. But we are facing a key challenge here – although your leaders are accomplished in many ways, all of us are poor at coming up with great titles and/or snappy acronyms! Right now our best proposed name is Women in the Academy (WITA) – but we know some of you out there can do better. If you have ideas or suggestions for names, please send them to us. Keep in mind our key goals are to find a name that is inclusive, does not repeat past names, and does not duplicate names of other similar organizations. Once we have some good options, we’d like to have a vote of WISE members for the final selection.
Finally, thank you all for the many – 25 to be exact – suggestions you made on possible topics for future WISE events. We will be drawing on this list for inspiration, but we will naturally gravitate towards the topics that resonate the most with our guiding vision for WISE. And since we think it’s realistic for us to plan about 3 events per semester, it would take us forever to work through this list! But we would love to increase our WISE event offerings, with some help from you. If you have ideas for a workshop that may benefit a subset of the WISE membership, or alternately may be beneficial for a broader group of faculty beyond those who normally participate in WISE, we’d love to help you organize an event with WISE as a co-sponsor. We can help reach out to other possible co-sponsors, organize a room and other equipment, and help with advertising. Think of this as a chance to have an event focused on just that thing you want, with support of this great network of colleagues!