About the Women’s Caucus Torch Award for Women’s Equity

The Torch Award, which is presented annually, recognizes an individual who has “carried the torch for women’s equality” at the University. The torch recalls the lighting of a torch for the 1977 National Women’s Conference, symbolically charting a course between the first Women’s Rights Convention of 1848 and the modern movement for women’s liberation. It was selected by the Women’s Caucus to represent the past and present efforts to achieve equality and improve the quality of employment for women at UD.

This award was created to honor a UD employee, faculty or staff member that has demonstrated efforts to achieve equity and improve the quality of employment for women at UD. Past recipients include: Anne Boylan, Mae Carter, Pam Cook, Barbara Settles, Nancy Targett, and Karren Helsel-Spry. We recognize the remarkable distance that the university has traveled, express our deep gratitude for the policies and opportunities that exist thanks to decades of advocacy, and continue to work toward full equity.

2018 Torch Award Winner: Robin Andreasen

Dr. Andreasen has been very active in supporting and leading policies, programs and initiatives to achieve equality or improve the quality of employment for women at UD throughout her career at UD.

Dr. Andreasen has been a key member of the UD ADVANCE team since 2008 when the College of Engineering and the natural sciences portfolio of the College of Arts and sciences jointly received an ADVANCE grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve the recruitment and retention of women faculty in STEM fields. Through this grant a diverse team of faculty developed and presented workshops to their colleagues: one on best practices in faculty recruitment and one on faculty mentoring.

Dr. Andreasen went on to co-author a successful grant from the UD President’s Diversity Initiative in 2012 that extended the reading group and workshops to the Colleges of Health Sciences and Earth, Ocean, and Environment. She continued in her role of scholarly lead of the reading group.

Meanwhile, Dr. Andreasen co-researched and co-wrote a grant proposal to the NSF for an ADVANCE Institutional Transformation (IT) grant, which was awarded to UD in 2014. This 5-year $3.3 million focuses on improving the climate at UD for women faculty in STEM and other faculty underrepresented in their disciplines. As co-PI on the grant, Dr. Andreasen has taken a lead role on UD’s faculty climate survey, which is administered every two years. Climate survey data are critical because they document inequities and shortcomings in the resources and support that diverse faculty need to thrive at UD.

As a UD ADVANCE researcher, Dr. Andreasen co-authored a study of faculty career satisfaction that won the Denise Denton Best Paper Award at the 2017 annual conference of the American Society for Engineering Education. This study illustrated that department chair leadership matters more to women faculty than to men, in terms of their career satisfaction, which in turn is linked to retention and career advancement. This result reinforces the importance of offering chairs mentoring, support, and resources in their jobs.

Another of Dr. Andreasen’s initiatives as co-PI of UD ADVANCE is the Faculty Fellows program. This is a group of faculty from across UD who meet regularly to learn about implicit bias and best practices for minimizing its impact on faculty careers. The Fellows adapt ADVANCE workshops on faculty recruitment to be appropriate within their colleges and portfolios. These workshops have been offered to all faculty search committees in 6 of UD’s 7 colleges for the past two years. Dr. Andreasen coordinates this entire program, including organizing meeting, establishing agendas, and co-developing materials to support the Fellows and their workshops.

Dr. Andreasen was a member of the executive board of directors of the Women’s Caucus from 2013-2016 and served as co-chair from 2014-2016. During this time she also served on the bylaws committee, the board development committee, and the publication committee. I was a member of the board during the time that she was co-chair and I was always impressed by how thoughtfully she approached each meeting. She planned each agenda carefully and established a practice of using meeting time not just to report out and discuss issues, but also to work substantively on projects. This approach took some of the burden off of board members to plan separate sub-committee meetings outside of monthly board meetings. It expedited progress on certain projects.

One of Dr. Andreasen’s key accomplishments as co-chair was to research and develop, with contributions from other members of the board, proposed policy language that would establish paid time off for parental leave for UD staff. She and the staff co-chair of the board presented the proposal to President Assanis when he first came to campus.