Wayne State University

Aim Higher

1988 - 1991

A series of activities focused on advancement opportunities for women. The Career Development Committee organized a Mentoring Reception for faculty and academic staff on March 2, 1988, that brought together 85 tenured and non-tenured women to share information on achieving tenure. The success of this initial event prompted several more mentor/mentee meetings during the year. In the fall of that year, the program was expanded to include career advancement strategies for all women on campus, and mentor/mentee meetings continue today.

In 1988, WSU was able to send a representative to the Bryn Mawr College Summer Institute, an intensive training program in higher education administration for women faculty and administrators. The President's Office agreed to provide the funding for a Wayne State participant and continues to sponsor a participant to the Institute in alternate years.

Activities to increase the campus community's awareness of sexual harassment also received emphasis in this period. The Office of Community Relations had sponsored seminars on sexual harassment for the deans and administrative staffs of the colleges during the mid-1980s, and the Commission saw the need to involve the wider community. In the winter of 1988, the Affirmative Action and Equity Committee began a series of noon hour presentations on sexual harassment, featuring a videotape and group discussion on sexual harassment. The series has drawn a large number of participants and continues today. To encourage more widespread participation, the tape and instructional materials used in the presentation are available from the Commission for use by faculty and campus organizations. In addition, the Affirmative Action and Equity Committee developed a sexual harassment awareness module for classroom use; in February 1991, the Committee submitted a proposal fo! r the incorporation of a mandatory unit on sexual harassment into UGE 100, a required course that introduces new students to the University.

Mindful of its charge to increase communication among women, in the winter of 1989, the Commission proposed that a survey of campus women be conducted to determine the issues that women considered of most concern to them. Funds were allocated for the survey by the Office of the Provost, and the survey questionnaire was prepared, but implementation was postponed. The Provost's Office has indicated that during the next year, a modified form of this project will be used to gather information on the concerns of women on campus.

May 1990, saw the publication of the first issue of the Commission Newsletter since 1987. Aimed at increasing the awareness of issues of concern to women, the Newsletter is delivered through the campus mail to every University unit. Issues have featured articles on sexual harassment, domestic violence and women in technological careers. The "Getting-to-Know-You" receptions continue to give employees of WSU an opportunity to meet Commission members and to become familiar with its work. Another popular outreach tradition, the annual spring dinners, originally begun as luncheons, honor women at Wayne State and feature well-known Michigan women as speakers. In March 1990, as part of the relocation of administrative and faculty offices from Mackenzie Hall, the Commission office moved into the new Faculty/Administration Building.

In preparation for its twentieth anniversary, the Commission proposed and received funding from the Office of the President for a series of activities to commemorate the anniversary year. The proposal included a reception honoring the past presidents of the Commission, a program series, assembly of the history of the Commission, and an update of the Commission's original 1972 Report on the status of women at Wayne State. Committees were organized to work on each of these activities, and a Twentieth Anniversary Committee was formed to oversee the whole project. The program series committee sent out a call for proposals for presentations on issues affecting the lives of women, and selected four that the Commission would fund: a lecture, "An Agenda for Women in the 90s," by the first chair of the Commission, Nancy K Schlossberg; a performance of Randi Douglas' play, Count on Me; a day-long symposium, Native Exiles: Third World Women and the Politi! cs of Land; and, a film and discussion series, Aging and Women: Independence and Dignity, three documentaries by Communication professor, Robert Steele.

The committee for the update of the 1972 Report on the status women forwarded sections of the 1972 recommendations to the relevant University units and requested the units to note the actions they had taken to implement the recommendations in the intervening years; the committee will compile the responses, analyze the results to determine the progress of women in the last 20 years, and make further recommendations. The updated report and the history of the Commission will be published during the twentieth anniversary year.