AAU New Principles

AAU New Principles

The Association of American Universities announced Tuesday that it was adopting “groundbreaking” new principles for preventing sexual harassment in academe.

By Maria Carrasco | October 27, 2021

The presidents and chancellors of the AAU, an organization composed of 66 research universities across the U.S., voted during their fall meeting this week to adopt the eight new principles, which include fostering a climate and culture where sexual misconduct is unacceptable; sharing findings of sexual misconduct with prospective employers when requested; requiring job applicants to provide personnel information from their prior employers about sexual misconduct; holding students, faculty, administrators and staff accountable for violations; and completing all investigations into sexual misconduct.

“We know that this continues to be an issue on college campuses,” said Barbara Snyder, president of AAU. “And for that reason, we wanted collectively to speak to our members but also to say broadly to the higher ed community, obviously we think this is important. And we collectively believe that these principles will help guide our campuses.”

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New Senior Leadership Position in Equity and Diversity

New Senior Leadership Position in Equity and Diversity


Fatimah Conley to serve as vice president of institutional equity and chief diversity officer

University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis today announced the creation of a new vice presidential position in the University’s senior administration to advance the institution’s strategic priority of enhancing our institutional equity efforts to support a diverse, inclusive and intercultural campus.

The new position – vice president of institutional equity and chief diversity officer – reports directly to the president and works closely with the provost, the executive vice president and chief operating officer and other senior leaders. With dedicated focus on advancing UD’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), responsibilities will encompass strategic leadership, oversight and visionary activation of a range of services, programs, policies and procedures for faculty, staff and students.

“The elevated role and accompanying responsibilities, authority and accountability of this new post reflect the importance we place on advancing an inclusive culture here at the University of Delaware,” Assanis said. “Our vision and priorities for the University often reference new programs and initiatives— but at the heart of all these efforts are our people. As ideals and values of society continue to evolve, UD is reaffirming its commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging at the center of everything we do.”

After a nationwide search, Assanis said Fatimah Conley, who has served as the University’s acting chief diversity officer since Oct. 16, 2020, will take on the new role, effective immediately.

“Fatimah Conley’s deep knowledge of the University of Delaware community and culture, as well as her experiences over the past year as interim chief diversity officer, make her the ideal person to take on this new role,” he said. “With several initiatives underway on these critical issues, I am confident that Fatimah has the insights, experience, dedication, empathy and leadership ability we need in this critical area to help the University move forward.”

In this role, Conley will be a leader, adviser, advocate and catalyst for change, Assanis said. She will lead the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion that was created last year to consolidate and coordinate all campus units primarily responsible for all DEI initiatives at the University. Included in this office are the vice provost for diversity, Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Center for Black Culture, the Office of Disability Support Services and the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

“I am elated and thankful to be able to serve as UD’s inaugural Chief Diversity Officer,” said Conley. “Working closely with President Assanis over the past year, I have learned that with his commitment to social justice principles and diversity comes the expectation for transformational and sustainable change. As the CDO, I look forward to continuing to work with the Office of Institutional Equity team, the faculty, staff and students who have long been devoted to this work, and the entire UD community to continue progress toward becoming a more equitable and diverse campus, where every Blue Hen knows that they belong.”

During Conley’s tenure at interim chief diversity officer, there have been a number of important developments, including the formation of the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, expansion of the Center for Black Culture’s Each One Reach One Mentoring program, and multiple town halls on a range of topics in response to calls for change.  As part of the University’s strategic planning process, Conley has served as co-chair of the subcommittee exploring “Building a Social Justice Foundation to Support a Diverse, Inclusive and Intercultural Campus,” and she also has worked closely with campus colleagues on a number of impactful projects, such as the Anti-Racism Institute, the historical naming task force and the initiative to play “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at UD athletic events.

About Fatimah Conley

A staff member in the Office of the General Counsel at UD since 2015, Conley also served from 2017-20 as senior counsel to the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), headquartered at UD and funded by the federal government to advance U.S. competitiveness in advanced manufacturing innovation.

While at UD, Conley has worked directly with the Office of Equity and Inclusion, serving as interim director and Title IX coordinator from May 2018 to December 2019 and as senior associate director of the office from 2015-16.

Before joining the University, she was an attorney at a law firm in New Orleans, handling all aspects of commercial transactions, and spent two years as a human resources consultant in higher education.

Conley is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and the National Association of College and University Attorneys. She earned her undergraduate degree at Fairleigh-Dickinson University and a law degree from Tulane Law School. Currently she is pursuing her MBA in UD’s Lerner College of Business and Economics.

Faculty Diversity Fell in Time of Crisis

Faculty Diversity Fell in Time of Crisis

By Colleen Flaherty

Four-year colleges and universities cut tenure-track hiring by 25 percent around the time of the Great Recession — and hires of people of color declined disproportionately, especially at public and research-oriented institutions, according to a new study in Sociological Science.

In addition to these data, the new paper offers another, urgent takeaway: the same reversal of progress toward faculty diversity could happen in the COVID-19 era, if institutions don’t take steps to ensure it doesn’t.

“That hires of faculty of color declined during the Great Recession may have gone unnoticed by administrators struggling to keep the ship afloat,” the study says. “Provosts and deans facing the COVID-19 crisis should take note that institutions facing uncertainty may reduce new-hire diversity unwittingly. It may be that public and research-oriented institutions will again face the greatest uncertainty over the next few years and will again see the greatest declines in the diversity of new faculty.”


Fixing Workplace Culture for Graduate Students

Fixing Workplace Culture for Graduate Students

Doctoral students often suffer the worst consequences of the faculty’s inattention to the academic workplace.

Leonard Cassuto

Professors and doctoral students don’t usually think of academe as a workplace. Outside of the obvious exceptions, such as the laboratory sciences, much of our writing and research is solitary. More important, we tend to see that work as centered not within a physical space — like a department or a campus — but in the wider culture of our disciplines.

Yet we do have a professional workplace. And because we pay it so little attention, it often doesn’t function well. That hurts all of us, but it’s graduate students who suffer the worst consequences. Many of our Ph.D. programs teach students to prize a faculty job and disdain other career paths. Given the limited number of tenure-track jobs actually available, we are, in effect, teaching them to be unhappy. Not surprisingly, many of them are. Their unhappiness — and anger, sometimes spiked with feelings of betrayal — isn’t an isolated effect. It needs to be considered in terms of the academic workplace as a whole.


Advancing Justice in our World

Advancing Justice in our World

A message from President Dennis Assanis and Interim Chief Diversity Officer Fatimah Conley

Dear UD Community,

Earlier today, a jury in Minneapolis convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, a case that sparked nationwide protests against systemic racism and injustice in America. The trial and verdict represent the latest chapter in our nation’s tragic legacy of race and prejudice — particularly anti-Black racism. We understand this has been an anxious and painful time for everyone, especially for Black people, and all members of our community here at the University of Delaware.

As our nation tries to make sense of the pervasive and destructive nature of anti-Black racism, our conversations rightly focus on our shared goals to create a better world — one characterized by justice, freedom, diversity, equity, inclusion, respect, humanity and understanding. As one University of Delaware community, we must challenge ourselves every day to ask the question: How can our values and our actions bring that society into existence?

At UD, we have the resources and the obligation to discover new knowledge, inspire each other, teach future generations and drive progress toward peace in our world. A UD education provides far more than career preparation. It compels us to challenge the status quo, put our experiences into historical and social context, and find meaning in the events that shape our lives. Indeed, today’s UD students will become tomorrow’s leaders of positive change pertaining to equity and inclusion and so much more. Educated and empowered, we all must understand not only “what” and “why” things happen, but “how” we can fix problems and seek solutions.

Here at UD, we will continue to take actions toward addressing these issues. We are proud of the work of UD’s Antiracism Initiative, a grassroots effort that grew out of last summer’s protests. Our student-athletes initiated a productive conversation with community leaders regarding policing practices and continues to engage with the UD Police Department. UDPD is committed to being a model of exemplary policing, with ongoing training in community engagement, de-escalation techniques and other best practices for modern law enforcement.

Students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to share their reactions to the Chauvin verdict at these upcoming events:

  • Dean of Students Adam Cantley will moderate two student community gatherings 4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 21, and 5 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 26., for students to share reactions, emotions and thoughts about the verdict. Students will need to log in with their UD credentials and the passcode “ComConnect”.
  • A faculty/staff community gathering is planned for noon Friday, April 23. Employees will need to log in with their UD credentials and the passcode “118182”.

A list of additional University resources and events is available below to help strengthen and advance our community in this important work.

As our society continues to face new challenges and hardships every day, our vision of a better tomorrow at the University of Delaware drives everything we do. Together, we can — we will — make that vision a reality.


Dennis AssanisPresident
Fatimah ConleyInterim Chief Diversity Officer


For everyone

Seeds of Change Speaker Series: “What Does ‘Defund the Police’ Mean? A Real Conversation” — 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 22. Join Student Diversity and Inclusion and University of Delaware Alternative Breaks for a workshop and moderated Q&A on what defunding the police means in actual practice, and how we build more equitable futures with local racial and environmental justice organizer Christianne Marguerite.

For students

Wellbeing services and support are available. The Center for Counseling and Student Development is open and available remotely, and 24/7 mental health support remains available on the UD Helpline at 302-831-1001 for any student in need of someone to talk to.

For faculty and staff

The Employee Assistance Program is provided through ComPsych GuidanceResources. This is a free program available for State of Delaware Group Health Plan non-Medicare members and their dependents. As part of ComPsych’s commitment, EAP services are available through the end of the national COVID-19 public health emergency to all State of Delaware employees, including temporary, casual seasonal and benefit eligible employees who are not currently enrolled in a State of Delaware Highmark Delaware or Aetna health plan. In addition, Employee Health and Wellbeing has a variety of resources available to assist employees.

For alumni

Talk About Race Discussion with Hassan El-Amin — Join a thought-provoking virtual discussion with writer/director/actor Hassan El-Amin, creator of “Talk About Race,” an original audio production of the Resident Ensemble Players, UD’s professional theatre.

Equity Efforts Coordinated in Central Office

Equity Efforts Coordinated in Central Office


Fatimah Conley to lead Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity activities across several University of Delaware areas have been integrated into a central Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (OIEDE) to improve coordination and better leverage assets in this important area, University President Dennis Assanis announced today.

“The University of Delaware is deeply committed to addressing the challenges in our society that affect equity and social and racial justice,” Assanis said. “We know that more must be done in this ongoing fight, both nationally and at the University. Last month, when we announced the appointment of Fatimah Conley as our interim chief diversity officer, I noted that we must be strategic and innovative in the use of our resources so that we can maximize our effectiveness and our impact. This reorganization is the next step in that process.”

The UD Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will be led by Conley, who serves as senior adviser to the president on this topic, and it will encompass all the units primarily responsible for all diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the University, including

  • the Vice Provost for Diversity, who works to advance the University’s academic mission and goals in this area;
  • Student Diversity and Inclusion, which is committed to providing programming, advocacy, services and support resources throughout Student Life;
  • the Center for Black Culture, which creates a supportive environment for Black students and other underrepresented students and works to educate the larger community on their challenges, needs and interests;
  • the Office of Disability Support Services, which supports the academic experience of individuals with disabilities; and
  • the Office of Equity and Inclusion, which provides leadership and support in creating an equitable, diverse and inclusive working and learning environment.

“The social and racial justice issues facing the University and the country are not new. Systemic inequities and disparities have always existed in America,“ Conley said. “For decades, many UD faculty, students and staff have been dedicated to doing the critical, progressive and challenging work of improving the cultural climate at UD. This restructuring is the next step in renewing and enhancing the University’s commitment to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion that lie at the heart of our mission. I look forward to working closely with this talented team in the days ahead.”

As part of the restructure, which has the full support of Provost Robin Morgan and Vice President for Student Life José-Luis Riera, the specific units will be able to better leverage staff talents and resources; enhance coordination of campus-wide activities, initiatives and programs; and more holistically maximize progress, impact and service within the University community.

“All the individuals working in these units bring a wealth of diverse interests, talents and expertise to the tasks at hand,” Assanis said, “but they all share a common commitment to the importance of this work and its lasting impact on our University.”

Student leaders such as Samantha Bingaman, president of the Graduate Student Government and a master’s degree student in marine policy, have expressed support for this decision. “This year, the graduate student body has renewed our emphasis on advocating for the betterment of our entire community and keeping our administration accountable,” Bingaman said. “With the merging of dedicated staff into one OIEDE, we are optimistic about this step and the crucial diversity improvements this streamline could soon bring to UD. We hope to work with the talented Fatimah Conley and her staff at every step of the way.”