Deepening Our Institutional Commitment (Summer 2018)

We’re just over half-way through and 2018 has already proven to be an exciting year!

This spring we launched the Women’s Leadership Series, which features amazing women leaders from across Colorado State University sharing crucial information and experience to help others navigate our institution. This program is a revamped version of one of our grant-funded projects. It is largely informed by the fact that we send two employees to the HERS Institute each year, which has consistently proven to be a transformative experience for those who attend. In order to bring some of that learning back to our campus community, this program started with a panel of previous HERS alumnae. A main goal of the program is to make helpful information more readily accessible to our campus community, but due to some unfortunate technical difficulties, the first session was not successfully recorded. However, the two other panels from the Spring 2018 series were just as awesome and recordings are available! Those panels focused on understanding basics about how money flows through the University budgets and funding systems, and what it has been like for some of our most impressive women leaders who have navigated institutional systems as “outsiders within” in light of their identities and intersections of their gender, race, and sexuality. We are fortunate to have many strong, innovative, and courageous leaders on our campus, and it was a pleasure to launch this program as a way to elevate those leaders and make their insights available to help develop even more of our community.

Collaborative Conversations continued, but this time with a focus on exploring faith, belief, and practices for gender equity. It can be tricky to bring together conversations around gender and faith (most people don’t want to even broach the subject!), and yet that presents even more reason to invite open discussions about the influences of faith and belief on our practices, including how we understand and approach practices pertaining to gender. Faith and belief provide frameworks that guide many people’s journeys through life, and many religions speak to gender in ways that may be complicated and sometimes surprising. Our panelists represented a diverse set of religious perspectives and offered really wonderful conversations by leaning into any awkwardness and sharing from their personal experiences. We aimed to better understand what shared practices for gender equity might look like from an inter-faith approach, and it was clear from our time together that one of the most important things we can do is create spaces where people feel comfortable and supported enough to share their own process of working through any tensions between their faith and personal values. There’s a chance we may consider revising this program to better suit our campus needs in the future, but thanks to a collaboration with CSU Online, the past two Collaborative Conversation series will remain available for reference.

All that leads me to the biggest news of the year: the Women & Gender Collaborative is now situated under the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, which was recently announced in the SOURCE. I’m exceptionally grateful for the past three years with this initiative in the Office of the President –  it has been hugely beneficial to work so closely with President Frank and have his enthusiastic support for our efforts. This move is a reiteration of his commitment in that it provides much needed institutional longevity and support for the Women & Gender Collaborative by aligning the initiative with VPD, one of our primary Core Collaborators. This is a big change and I suspect the fall semester may be a bit quieter as we go through a transitional period, but I am very excited to see what more we can accomplish as part of a growing team whose primary tasks center on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within our institution.

In the meantime, check out all the resources that are featured on our updated website (like new tip sheets from the Feminist Fight Club at CSU), and know that primary goals for this year are to create more ways for men to engage in our culture change efforts and continue expanding our educational offerings. Stay tuned for more in the months to come!