Promoting an Inclusive Campus Climate

Promoting an Inclusive Campus Climate

Fatimah Conley named interim chief diversity officer at UD

Fatimah Conley, associate general counsel at the University of Delaware, has been promoted to the position of interim chief diversity officer (CDO) at the University effective immediately, President Dennis Assanis announced today.

“During this time when our nation is confronting challenges in pursuit of equity and social and racial justice, there is an urgency for action. Even under the current circumstances of constrained resources, our commitment to the progress and advancement of inclusive excellence throughout the University of Delaware must remain steadfast. Our success will rely on strategic and innovative use of the resources UD is investing and maximize effectiveness,” Assanis said.

In her role as interim chief diversity officer, Conley will serve as the senior adviser to the president regarding all diversity, equity and inclusion (“DEI”) initiatives at the University.  She will advise and collaborate with senior leadership and other University groups to develop and implement DEI programs that promote a welcoming campus culture for all faculty, students and staff. Conley will work closely with the president and the UD community to realize a clear vision for success for DEI efforts by engaging all stakeholder groups – students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, alumni, community. This will further solidify the foundation for actions that sustainably advance DEI as part of the University’s core mission.

“Fatimah’s experience, insights and drive will serve UD well as she takes on this new post,” Assanis added. “She will inspire, catalyze and coordinate our university-wide DEI efforts to reinforce and build upon one another. I look forward to working together to advance the DEI agenda for the UD community.”

Conley brings to this challenge a deep understanding of UD’s organization, culture, and aspirations. Over the past five years, she has worked closely with the Office of Equity and Inclusion, serving as interim director and Title IX coordinator for eight months, all the while consistently demonstrating steadfast commitment to the ideals of diversity, equity and inclusion at the University.

In addressing UD’s immediate priorities, the president has asked Conley to work closely with units and programs supporting campus-wide student, faculty and staff DEI efforts and provide recommendations on how to consolidate them into one cohesive structure reporting to the CDO.  The goal of this effort is to improve coordination of our programs, and balance shared resources for enhanced impact, beginning with the establishment of a clearer accountability structure. As a first step in this process, the Office of Equity and Inclusion will report into her immediately, expanding its visibility and effectiveness while ensuring UD’s compliance with state and federal laws.

In consultation with senior leadership and building on information from an earlier study and results of a working group, she also will investigate potential spaces for a new multicultural center, seeking input from a diverse set of community members to help define the role of such a center and provide recommendations for the best path forward.

“I look forward to working with President Assanis, administrative leaders and the entire UD community to synthesize and integrate the University’s many diversity and inclusion efforts into a visible, meaningful, collaborative and effective strategy for enhancing diversity, equity, access and inclusion at UD,” Conley said. “In my role as interim chief diversity officer, I will engage our students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees and UD community members to make significant progress for transformation.”

A staff member in the Office of the General Counsel at UD since 2015, Conley has also served since 2017 as senior counsel to the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), which is headquartered at UD and funded by the federal government to advance U.S. competitiveness in advanced manufacturing innovation. As she takes on this new role, Bradley Yops, assistant general counsel, will take over her duties at NIIMBL, which include advising the institute director on legal matters to ensure that decisions and outcomes are aligned with the University, working with the operations director to negotiate agreements for all projects and supporting NIIMBL’s sustainability efforts.

While at UD, Conley has worked directly with the Office of Equity and Inclusion, serving as interim director and Title IX coordinator from May to December in 2018 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.

Article by UDaily staff | October 16, 2020

Redding Lecture 2020

Redding Lecture 2020

The event on March 3 featured interactive courtroom drama, ‘Defamation’

 Photo and illustration courtesy of The Defamation Experience  

The Defamation Experience will headline the University of Delaware’s annual Louis L. Redding Lecture on Tuesday, March 3, at 5:30 p.m. in Mitchell Hall on UD’s campus in Newark.

The three-part experience features a live performance of Defamation, a riveting courtroom drama by award-winning playwright Todd Logan that explores the highly charged issues of race, class, religion, gender and the law. The premise is a civil suit in which an African American business owner is suing a Jewish real estate developer for defamation. The twist: the audience is part of the performance, playing the jury in the case. A facilitated discussion follows the show.

The show’s website describes Defamation as a 75-minute trial that “holds our prejudices and assumptions under a powerful lens, and does not let go except by way of an unsettling self-examination.”

Logan said that the experience is intended to generate honest conversation and challenge people’s preconceived notions about race, class and religion, leading to greater empathy.

The event is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending should register at Reserve seats for a class or group by emailing

Sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity, the Louis L. Redding Lecture honors the late civil rights pioneer, a prominent lawyer in Wilmington, Delaware, whose work led to educational opportunities for African American students in the state and nation.

In addition to the performance, Michael Vaughan, interim vice provost for diversity and inclusion, will recognize the recipients of the Louis L. Redding Diversity Award and the Louis L. Redding Scholar Award at the event. More information about the awards and the nomination process is available on the University’s diversity website.

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Fight to End Segregation Not Over

Fight to End Segregation Not Over

Mary Frances Berry delivers the annual Louis L. Redding Lecture

In the 1954 landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court said separate but equal education was inherently unequal. Civil rights activist and educator Mary Frances Berry said despite this, segregation in schools persists today.

“[The belief was] that the good white people in America would do that right thing,” Berry said on Thursday, Oct. 25, when she spoke at the University of Delaware’s Mitchell Hall. “If we win the lawsuit and if we win the case in Brown, then segregation will end…. Well that didn’t happen.”

Berry shared these views during her keynote address at the annual Louis L. Redding Lecture, which honors the late civil rights activist and lawyer from Wilmington. Redding was part of the legal team fighting against segregation in the Brown v. Board of Education case.

UD President Dennis Assanis shared a bit about Redding and his legacy. Redding was the first African-American attorney admitted to the Delaware Bar, where he served as the only non-white member for more than two decades. In 2013, the University dedicated a new residence hall in Redding’s honor.

“The diversity that Mr. Redding helped create continues to increase our community today,” Assanis said. “We often say that the University was founded 275 years ago in 1743. I like to say that the inclusive excellence pillar of UD was actually founded in 1951 [when black students were first admitted to UD because of Redding’s lawsuit against the university], and that’s an important statement. We are grateful for Louis Redding’s vision and hard work.”

As part of the evening, awards were presented to individuals in the community who have made a difference.

Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, has dedicated her life to fighting for civil rights, gender equality and social justice. She served as the chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1993 to 2004. A professor and former chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder (the first woman to head a major research university), Berry has decades of experience with race and education.

She drew on these experiences to explain the challenges the U.S. education system continues to face. She focused first on K-12 education — the pipeline to colleges — where she said there is overemphasis on standardized testing. She dubbed the U.S. educational system, “standardized test score junkies.”

“Instead of testing people on what we taught them,” she said, “we test them on what we didn’t teach them.”

This obsession disproportionately affects students of color, particularly black and Latino students, she said. As a result, many end up left behind and never make it out of the pipeline to college. She offered that more teachers must be willing to meet students where they are, instead of teaching from where they are expected to be.

Due to the problems in the pipeline, the pool of college students start off with a diversity problem, Berry said. The number of minority students enrolled to earn degrees is a stark difference compared to the overall population.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 13 percent of black students and 18 percent of Hispanic students were enrolled in a degree-granting institution in 2016. Those numbers are 6.9 percent for Asian students, and less than 1 for Native Americans. These numbers are dismal, Berry said.

She noted that the institutional problems obviously extend outside of education. Speaking particularly of the black experience, she said there continues to be danger in everyday activities.

“It’s not just driving while black anymore,” she said. “It’s living while black.”

Although there is still much work to be done and it can often feel like little progress has been made, she said those who won awards that evening are examples of the change-makers society needs. Her message was just do something.

“If we want to make change, continue — all of you that got awards as well as the other people — to do what you can do,” Berry said. “There’s something you can do everyday. When you see something happening, you can do something, whether you do it surreptitiously or whether you do it out in the open.”

Berry examines these issues as well as other movements she’s been part of in her latest book, History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times.

Honoring Change Makers

During the awards portion of the evening, UD Vice Provost for Diversity Carol Henderson thanked the honorees for their dedication in the fight for civil rights. She borrowed a few words from political leader and activist Nelson Mandela to highlight the impact of the winners.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul — notes great humanitarian, social activist and former president Nelson Mandela — than the way in which a society treats its children,” Henderson said.

2018 Louis L. Redding Award Winners

  • Camille Sims-Johnson
  • Ramona Neunuebel

2018 Recognition of Legends Roll Call

  • Rep. James Johnson
  • Sen. Margaret Rose Henry
  • Raye Jones Avery
  • Beatrice Ross Coker
  • Patricia DeLeon
  • Jane Hovington
  • Lawrence Livingston
  • Maria Matos
  • Jeanne Nutter
  • Terry Whittaker
  • Freeman Williams
Co-winners of the 2018 Louis L. Redding Award, Ramona Neunuebel, assistant professor of biological sciences at UD (left) and Camille Sims-Johnson, director of UD’s Upward Bound Math/Science program (right).
Co-winners of the 2018 Louis L. Redding Award were Ramona Neunuebel, assistant professor of biological sciences at UD (left) and Camille Sims-Johnson, director of UD’s Upward Bound Math/Science program.

 | Photo by Kevin Quinlan | 

Delaware’s racial disparities are still with us

Delaware’s racial disparities are still with us

Delaware Voice:

Theodore J. Davis, Jr.

Theodore J. Davis, Jr. is a professor of political science and international relations at the University of Delaware.

I have started a research initiative at the University of Delaware called the Delaware Black Community Research Project. The project is dedicated to the development and pursuit of progressive and transformative policies and solutions to racial disparities in the areas of education, employment, and income distribution.

The Delaware Black Community Research Project recently released a report titled, “Racial Disparities in Delaware Remain Deep: Fifty Years After the Kerner Commission Report and the Wilmington Riot.” The Wilmington riot was most notable because the Delaware National Guard patrolled the city of Wilmington for nearly nine months.

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The findings of the report found racial disparities in educational outcomes, employment, income distribution, and housing remains a severe issue in Delaware.

Blacks and whites in Delaware differ in their perceptions of what was the most critical problems facing the state, and racial differences in perceptions of fairness of police practices and the justice system remain deep.

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In 2015, the average black household in Delaware earned 72 cents for every dollar earned by the average white household. Since the 1970s, there has been no significant closure in the poverty gap between blacks and whites in Delaware. In 2015, two out of every ten blacks in Delaware lived in poverty compared to only one in ten whites.

Let’s not get this wrong — there has been a decline in the overall percentage of black families in Delaware living in poverty, but the drop in black families living in poverty was matched by a decrease in the rate of white families living in poverty.

In 2015, the percentage of black children living in poverty was 22.3 percent greater than white children living in poverty. Nearly one-third of black children in Delaware lived in poverty, compared to only one-tenth of white children.

Educationally, the high school graduation gap between blacks and whites in Delaware has closed significantly since the 1970s. However, during the same period, the college graduation gap between blacks and whites has increased.

The difference in the college graduation rates is significant because today’s economy increasingly requires some level of post-secondary education experience for meaningful employment opportunities.

In 2015, the unemployment rate for blacks between the ages of 16 and 24 was nearly double that of whites. Blacks’ unemployment rate in Delaware was around 7 percent, compared to 4 percent for whites. Homeownership is one of the primary measures of wealth in America today. In Delaware, roughly 80 percent of whites own their homes, compared to only 51 percent of blacks.

Sections of Wilmington have evolved into a classic example of the “formation of racial ghettos” mentioned in the Kerner Commission Report. It showed the quality of life and standards of living for Blacks in Wilmington’s inner city (racial ghettos) has gotten worse since the riots of 1968.

Metaphorically speaking, the report concluded that when it comes to what the most important problems facing Delaware, blacks, and whites are in the same ballpark, just different parts of the field.

Among blacks in Delaware, employment, wages and public safety were among the most critical problems identified. For whites, perceptions of the most important facing the state tend to be less concentrated than for blacks.

Whether real or perceived, blacks still consider the police departments throughout the state to be a threat to ethnic and racial minorities.

Ironically, the report concluded that it appears the blacks in Delaware are dividing into two communities: one relatively affluent and the other trapped in disadvantaged social and economic enclaves.

The report concluded that short of business and community leaders, elected officials, and policy decision-makers taking broad-minded actions to reduce racial disparities in education, employment, labor market opportunities and income inequality, racial inequality will remain and negatively impact the economy and future development of the state.

As DBCRP evolves, it plans to partner with groups and organizations to produce research aimed at reducing racial disparities in Delaware.

Theodore J. Davis, Jr. is a professor of political science and international relations at the University of Delaware.

— delawareonline, The News Journal

The Missing Women

The Missing Women

Speakers at academic seminars are the voices and faces of their fields, whether they like it or not. So it’s important that those voices and faces reflect who’s actually working in a given discipline. A new study says that colloquiums continue to fall short on that front, at least in terms of gender.

The study, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that some 3,652 colloquium speakers at 50 selective institutions in 2013-14 were more likely to be men than women, even when controlling for rank and representation of men and women in the disciplines that sponsored the events — the factors often cited to explain gender imbalances in academe.

“There are implications all over, but one of reasons we wanted to do this study is we’re profoundly interested in the idea of gatekeepers — people who, by virtue of their positions, have the ability to keep members of certain groups from achieving their full potential,” Michelle Hebl, study co-author and Martha and Henry Malcolm Lovett Professor of Psychology and professor of management at Rice University, said Monday. “They may do this unwittingly or not, but this is one of those situations where gatekeeper bias has some real consequences, since it’s very important to give these colloquium talks. It’s a really great way to build your network and showcases your research and your credibility.”

Christine Nittrouer, lead author and one of Hebl’s graduate students, said colloquium remarks sometimes serve as pseudo-job talks that lead to job offers or other professional opportunities. Yet the processes governing speaker invitations are far less formal than job searches and therefore less likely to include what Nittrouer called egalitarian protections.

“When we’re not cognizant of these things, our subtle biases can creep in in subtle ways,” she said.

Beyond gender and rank of available speakers, the researchers also investigated whether female and male faculty members at top universities valued speaking engagements differently or turned them down at different rates. They found no significant evidence of either hypothesis, though women did nominally value speaking engagements more than men did.

The authors did find, however, that female colloquium chairs made a big difference in women being selected as speakers: female chairs chose women 49 percent of the time, on average. Male chairs, meanwhile, chose women as speakers 30 percent of the time.

Big Implications

Hebl said the study’s implications extend beyond colloquiums, to other major kinds of career-impacting decisions. The answer isn’t rushing to put women on the “holiday party committee,” since they’re already overrepresented in service roles, she said. But it may be important to put them — in bigger numbers — on truly important committees to share their input as gatekeepers.

For their study, Nittrouer, Hebl and their co-authors created a database from all the featured colloquium speakers on departmental websites of the top 50 U.S. universities, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. In an attempt to represent the main divisions or colleges at the institutions with neither overly small nor overly large shares of women, they focused on the following disciplines: biology, bioengineering, political science, history, psychology and sociology. Those fields range from 22 percent to 47 percent female, according to the study. To establish an available speaker pool, they created a list of professors from those departments in the top 100 institutions, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The researchers also emailed a subset of faculty members to determine whether giving colloquium talks was significantly more important to men and women, and whether men reported declining invitations to talk significantly less frequently than women did. They also called administrators of each of the 300 programs studied to identify the gender of the colloquium chair or gender composition of the colloquium committee, to see who was making decisions about speakers.


Men gave more than twice as many colloquium talks over all (69 percent, or 2,519) as did women (31 percent, or 1,133). Although full professors gave the most colloquium talks (1,781), many associate professors (989) did as well. Some 882 assistant professors also gave talks. In an advanced analysis controlling for rank and program, the effect of gender was highly significant. Men were still 1.2 times more likely than women to speak at colloquia.

Male vs Female speakers

Figure 1: Study 1: percentage of male and female speakers out of the available pool by department giving colloquium talks. For biology, roughly 24 percent men and 20 percent women. For bioengineering, roughly 26 percent men and 22 percent women. For political science, roughly 18 percent men and 17 percent women. For psychology, roughly 15 percent men and 13 percent women. For sociology, roughly 19 percent men and 18 percent women. For history, roughly 16 percent men and 15 percent women.


Finding no evidence of women’s self-selection out of talks, the researchers moved on to their “gatekeeper” data. Regarding who selects speakers, they found that about one-third of speakers were selected by an individual and two-thirds were selected by committee. Of their sample of colloquium chairs, 11 were women and 23 were male. Female chairs sponsored talks in which 49 percent of speakers were women. Male chairs sponsored talks in which 30 percent of speakers were women. Colloquium committees that had a greater percentage of women on them were marginally more likely to have a higher percentage of female colloquium speakers — meaning that, at least in a group setting, both men and women may exhibit bias against women speakers.

Amber E. Boydstun, associate professor of political science and chancellor’s fellow at the University of California, Davis, said the new paper’s findings are directly in line with research on implicit bias. In this case, she said, bias means that when people — both men and women — organize colloquiums, they’re more likely to think about and therefore ask male scholars than female ones.

“Add to that implicit bias the fact that scholarly networks tend to be dominated by men, and it makes perfect (if unfortunate) sense that women — and women of color especially — would be underrepresented as colloquium speakers,” she added via email.

Boydstun co-authored a paper earlier this year on political science’s Women Also Know Stuff movement to increase representation of women and their research in disciplinary discussions, decisions and events. One of the project’s key recommendations is that academics involve women in colloquiums and other conferences.

Featuring only or mostly men in colloquiums gives the “impression that women are not doing important work,” Boydstun and her co-authors wrote. “By disproportionately inviting men to give talks, we unnecessarily diminish the profiles of our women colleagues.” includes a list of more than 1,300 female political scientists for reference for putting together syllabi, conferences and more.

The new paper calls for further study across disciplines not surveyed. But other research suggests such findings would likely be parallel. A 2014 study regarding large microbiology conferences, for example, found that the inclusion of even one woman on “convener” teams had a major impact on who gets to speak: about 25 percent of the speakers invited by all-male teams were women, compared to about 43 percent of the speakers invited by teams with at least one female member. Organizing teams with at least one woman were also much less likely than all-male organizing teams (9 percent versus 30 percent) to produce symposia in which all panel members were men.

Nittrouer and Hebl co-wrote their study with Rachel Trump-Steele, another graduate student at Rice, and David Lane, an associate professor of psychology, statistics and management on campus. They were joined by Leslie Ashburn-Nardo, an associate professor of applied social and organizational psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, and Virginia Valian, distinguished professor of psychology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

–INSIDE HIGHER ED, by Colleen Flaherty

Women receive less credit for speaking up

Women receive less credit for speaking up in the workplace than men, finds study.

Women receive less credit for speaking up in the workplace than their male counterparts, a study has found.

“In sum, we find that when men speak up with ideas on how to change their team for the better they gain the respect of their teammates—since speaking up indicates knowledge of the task at hand and concern for the well-being of the team,” said Kyle Emich, from the University of Delaware in the US.

“Alternatively, when women speak up with ideas on how to change the team for the better, they are not given any more respect than women who do not speak up at all, and thus are not seen as viable leadership options,” Emich said.

In the study published in the Academy of Management Journal, Emich said when most individuals imagined a leader they were likely to expect that leader to be a man by default.

On average in 10-people teams, Emich said, men who spoke up more than two-thirds of their teammates were voted to be the No. 2 candidate to take on team leadership.

“Women who speak up the same amount are voted to be the No. 8 candidate. This effect size is bigger than any I have seen since I began studying teams in 2009,” he said.

Further, in the team’s second study, a lab study of working adults, Emich said, “We find that men are given more credit than women even when saying the exact same thing.”

This reminds us about Miranda from the movie Sex and the City. Miranda, a successful lawyer, had to leave her job because her boss never gave a chance to speak up and took credit for her work. There was a scene where her boss raised his hand during an important board meeting indicating Miranda to shut up!

The astonishing study result has only confirmed our doubts. “Yes, it’s true,” said Anindita Rao, a senior manager at an MNC, adding, “It’s easy being a woman but it’s difficult being a strong woman at workplace. A lot of times I am not taken seriously and my ideas about bringing about change in the team to improve performance often fall upon deaf ears.”

This subtle gender stereotyping at workplace is not only a major setback for working woman but also sends out the message that we are not yet ready for strong women at workplaces who could prove to be far better workers than their male counterparts.

–The Times of India