The College of Natural Sciences engages in many initiatives to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace and learning climate. Here, we report on our efforts in yearly updates from the dean.

Academic Year 2018-19

Respect and Awareness

  • Incorporated reporting of our efforts to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive community into our monthly CNS newsletters
  • Initiated a distinguished faculty speaker series in collaboration with College of Engineering that invites highly accomplished scientists and engineers from underrepresented groups to campus to serve as role models to URM students in CNS and COE through the research and professional development seminars they offer during their visits
  • Promoted participation in a presentation by David Asai titled “Neither Right nor Left” on the issues of inclusion in STEM education hosted by the HHMI Inclusive Excellence Award
  • Developed and implemented exit surveys for faculty, staff and graduate students leaving the university


  • Initiated the development of statements of values and expectations for all CNS departments and schools and posting of these statements on the unit websites
  • Developed and distributed a slide stating our commitment to inclusive excellence and providing resources for students to be used by instructors in the classroom
  • Incorporated diversity statements in all hiring and selection processes for faculty and staff where candidates are asked to describe their contributions and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in their professional work


  • Hosted

  • Hosted events throughout the college to build community within groups and express our appreciation for their contributions to our mission, including:
    • Spring events for CNS graduate students and postdocs
    • Summer professional development retreat for staff, organized by the staff advisory committee
    • Welcome reception for all undergraduate students (early Fall and Spring semesters)
    • Spring CNS Ice Cream Social for undergraduate students, including pie-a-professor and a photo booth
  • Hosted community-wide events, including State of the College, College-Day Picnic, and Budget Town Hall
  • Supported community building and professional development events for graduate and undergraduate members of OSTEM
  • Provided a new meeting space for the Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) organization
  • Expanded our social media presence to engage the CNS and UMass community, including a ‘We are CNS’ social media campaign to highlight diversity among undergraduate students

Empowerment and a Sense of Agency

  • Facilitated the continuation and growth of ~10 mutual mentoring groups for women faculty and faculty of color in STEM. These groups include faculty at all ranks, cut across units, and are self-organized.
  • Supported the work of unit-based climate advisory committees, which continued to set annual goals and report on their progress in addressing both unit-level and college-level priorities
  • Initiated meetings for staff in similar job functions in different departments and schools, established undergraduate, graduate/postdoc, and staff advisory committees, and organized lunches for staff, students, postdocs, and faculty with the dean to provide opportunities for each group to share their ideas and connect with each and with the CNS dean
  • Promoted the regular use of annual performance reviews for staff as coaching opportunities to advance both individual professional development and organizational effectiveness
  • Facilitated the expansion of the graduate student-led BRiDGE program across multiple departments/programs within CNS to increase the diversity of early career speakers on campus


  • Recognized three students and faculty with awards for outstanding contributions to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in our college
  • Distributed $10,400 in support of unit-initiated activities to promote diversity, equity and inclusion locally

Diversity and Inclusion

  • Included a diversity, equity, and inclusion component into the search charge meeting for all faculty search committees in CNS in fall 2018 as a complement to a campus-wide STRIDE (Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence) workshop on faculty recruitment
  • Provided field-specific PhD availability statistics for gender and race to all CNS faculty search committees using National Science Foundation statistics from a survey of earned doctorates in STEM
  • Developed the Lee-SIP program to provide opportunities for undergraduate students, including those from groups traditionally under-represented in STEM, to engage in mentored research opportunities

Interpersonal Skills and Learning Communities 

  • Organized facilitated dialogues within four units in the college to advance positive climate and inclusivity among its members
  • Organized implicit bias training for faculty in all CNS units, with separate sessions for chairs of the departmental personnel committees and members of the college personnel committee
  • Organized conflict management training for department heads and chairs
  • Organized and moderated a faculty panel focused on mentoring diverse graduate students and postdocs
  • Hosted eight book groups with 70 CNS members including undergrads, grad students, postdocs, staff and faculty through the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Supported the Institute of Diversity Sciences, a cross-campus multidisciplinary unit of faculty, students and staff whose mission is to:
    • Promote science, engineering, and technical discoveries that advance equity
    • Offer mentored research experience for students, including women and URM students
    • Nurture career success of diverse students in STEM
    • Connect scientific research to social impact through public engagement & outreach

I am incredibly proud of our accomplishments and the engagement of all groups in our college in advancing the campus-wide priority of Building a Community of Dignity and Respect.

During academic year 2019-20, we will continue to support the work of unit-level Climate Advisory Committees through monthly leadership meetings aimed at sharing best practices and addressing barriers to progress and financial support for local activities. In addition, we will select up to three units who have demonstrated significant impact from their efforts to advance the workplace and learning climate, to recognize with substantial investment for renovation of common spaces and/or unit-wide professional development to promote awareness and implementation of best practices on inclusivity.

To support our ongoing work, I encourage you to take inspiration from our clear statements of values and expectations:

and to take advantage of the excellent resources that have been compiled by the Office of Equity and Inclusion to bring them to life:

The best outcomes for our community can only emerge by giving voice to all perspectives. I look forward to and sincerely thank you for your engagement over the coming year in ensuring the continued success of all faculty, staff, students and postdoctoral researchers in CNS.

Academic Year 2017-18

During this academic year, the College of Natural Sciences engaged in several initiatives to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace and learning climate. Some successes from those efforts include:

  • Forming and supporting initial progress by Climate Advisory Committees, composed of faculty, staff, students and postdoctoral researchers, in each CNS unit and creating a forum to share ideas among the committees
  • Launching a section on the CNS website to highlight our commitment to and activities in promoting a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace and learning climate
  • Convening retreats for faculty, staff, students and postdoctoral researchers to discuss the opportunities, challenges and priorities for advancing our workplace and learning climate, based on these discussions
  • Establishing college-level awards for contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion for faculty, staff and students/postdoctoral researchers
  • Creating and filling a college-level position of Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
  • Providing training on implicit bias to four CNS units (with the remainder to participate during academic year 2018-19)
  • Incorporating assessments of contributions to workplace and learning climate into hiring decisions for faculty and staff positions within the college

During academic year 2018-19, we will continue our progress, guided by college-level priorities and the self-identified goals of the unit-level Climate Advisory Committees. CNS will provide a pool of funds to support activities within units during academic year 2018-19. In addition, we will select up to three units, who have demonstrated significant impact from their efforts to advance the workplace and learning climate, to recognize with substantial investment for renovation of common spaces and/or unit-wide professional development to promote awareness and implementation of best practices on inclusivity. Please contact your Climate Advisory Committees for details on these resources.

I encourage you to participate in initiatives to strengthen the workplace and learning climate in CNS and your own unit. The best ideas will emerge from the intersection of our perspectives, talents and passions – please share yours for this important effort.