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Provost Michele Wheatly Highlights Institutional Commitment to Inclusion in Keynote
Provost Michele Wheatly delivered the morning keynote address at the Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers (ADVANCE) Resource and Coordination (ARC) Network’s 2019 Equity in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Community Convening in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 8.
In her remarks, Wheatly recounted her own journey as a STEM practitioner and now as a University administrator, and how these experiences informed her advocacy for inclusive excellence in a variety of institutional contexts. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), ARC advances equity in STEM workplaces in the United States.
“At Syracuse University, the ADVANCE funding was an important part of the long-term trajectory towards inclusive excellence for our students and faculty,” Wheatly explained. When joining Syracuse University in 2016, Wheatly said she admired Syracuse for its reputation. Syracuse University has welcomed people regardless of their sex, race, faith or national origin since its founding.
Wheatly has played an integral role in emphasizing Syracuse University’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity and accessibility. During her time as provost, Syracuse became one of 33 colleges and universities nationwide to receive the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive (HHMI) Excellence grant in 2018. The HHMI grant supports diversity and inclusion in science education. She addressed the challenges of recruiting and retaining high-achieving, low-income students from diverse backgrounds into undergraduate STEM programs through NSF’s Strategic Undergraduate STEM Talent Acceleration Initiative in 2017. In addition, Wheatly is one of the principal investigators for a $4 million NSF grant, awarded as part of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. Syracuse University leads an effort among Upstate New York colleges to develop and implement strategies for augmenting the number of underrepresented minority students pursuing STEM programs of study and careers. Wheatly has advocated for gender equity and broadening access to STEM fields to underrepresented populations over the course of her career. A program she helped organize at West Virginia University, the Women’s Leadership Initiative, provided executive coaching to 150 women.
Wheatly credited her first administrative appointment as chair of biological sciences at Wright State University with helping define her advocacy for both gender equity and expanding opportunities for students with disabilities and those of color. “The focus on accessibility hit a chord with me,” she said.
In her remarks, Wheatly explained the importance of an institutional commitment to inclusivity as important to maintaining positive momentum and implementing lasting, systematic change.
The ARC Network is funded by the NSF ADVANCE Program. It helps organizations adopt and implement evidence-based systemic initiatives by institutions of higher education and other STEM organizations. The ARC Network achieves this through initiating authentic, intentional dialogue between researchers and practitioners, connects people with inclusive organizational principles and best practices, and accounts and incorporates intersectional perspectives throughout its work.