Dear Students, Faculty and Staff: I had hoped my first communication with the campus community would be to share positive news. Sadly though, I am writing with the most difficult news to share—the passing of one of our students. We…
Women in Leadership Initiative Adopts Vision and Mission, Offers New Cohort Experience in 2022
Syracuse University’s Women in Leadership Initiative (WiL) launched in 2018 when Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff Candace Campbell Jackson set out to create unique experiences that encourage, promote and support the advancement of women faculty and staff.
Since that time, the initiative’s 251 hours of programming has attracted more than 600 participants to in-depth experiences ranging from managing personal conflict and leading teams to exploring traditional and nontraditional academic career pathways, according to current leader Michele G. Wheatly, special advisor to the Chancellor and President and professor of biology.
“Our panels, workshops and learning experiences featured prominent women leaders from higher education and other sectors,” Wheatly notes. “Demand for these offerings was great and seats for many were nearly immediately filled. I believe that’s because we offered a wide range of topics relevant and important to faculty and staff, especially as they dedicated time to upskilling while working from home during the pandemic.”
To continue building on their success with intentionality, Wheatly and the WiL Steering Committee embarked upon a strategic planning process earlier in 2021. They sought to refine the vision and mission of WiL and ensure that their work continues to align with the hopes and expectations of women on campus as well as remain relevant to post-pandemic higher education.
The planning process drew upon research from similar programs at other institutions and nonprofits, in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, and a survey that was completed by 280 participants. The research indicates that WiL is seen as an asset by aspiring women leaders who believe the initiative should fuel a critically important pipeline that leads to more women and people of color in leadership roles. Respondents also emphasized the value of mentoring, experiential learning and networking.
The research guided WiL leadership as they reached consensus on their vision and mission. In collaboration with Chancellor Kent Syverud, they intend to make Syracuse University a pacesetter in cultivating women’s leadership talents by catalyzing the personal and collective advancement of women on campus. They also adopted three core strategies to increase awareness of personalized professional development opportunities, inspire and better prepare women for their “next” and capture and amplify the voices and experiences of women on campus.
One new addition, an intensive leadership experience for a select cohort is expected to start in spring 2022. Meanwhile, WiL will also offer a new and dynamic series of experiences, host a website that features upcoming programming and curates prior learning opportunities, and champion a more robust approach to sharing information about women leaders on campus.