This morning, Robert Alpern, dean of the School of Medicine, formally published the school’s new initiatives to improve climate, diversity and faculty development.
After a sexual harassment scandal, which culminated in the removal of former cardiology chief Michael Simons MED ’84 from his directorship positions, the school’s recently formed Ad Hoc Task Force on Gender Equity met for the first time, aiming to improve levels of minority representation and treatment.
Alpern worked with the task force, who based their contributions on past report findings and community input. He also had support from chairs of various departments at the school. Following a series of town hall meetings in December and January, Alpern collected feedback from faculty in order to create the final draft of the initiatives.
The initiatives propose steps to combat 10 issues faculty members and administrators consulted felt were causing problems at the school.
Solutions include the creation of a Faculty Advisory Council and more regular meetings with SWIM, Status of Women In Medicine, and MORE, the Minority Organization for Retention and Expansion, to combat faculty feelings of disconnection from the administration.
The school also plans to add four at-large faculty member spaces to the Yale Medical Group board, which must be filled by nominated faculty members from underrepresented backgrounds.
Alpern said that some faculty members feel that they have not been fairly evaluated for promotion, since a single individual is sometimes able to block a faculty member’s advancement.
In response to this, Alpern said that the Dean’s Office will study the factors responsible for junior faculty not being promoted in a timely fashion and reasons for faculty departure. He also plans to establish a process for senior faculty members in each department to review assistant and non-tenured associate professors’ suitability for promotion.
Alpern added that he must keep promotion proceedings for individual faculty members confidential, but that overall results can be shared internally for monitoring purposes.
The Dean’s Office plans to endorse the University’s “Standards of Faculty Conduct,” and integrate them into the culture at the school.
This initiative aims to curb problematic behaviors, including those that do not rise to the level of a grievance, but still contribute to a negative climate. As well as improving leadership training, Alpern intends to emphasize to faculty that they can make complaints without the risk of retribution.
Further actions proposed in today’s announcement involve increasing transparency in compensation and the allocation of resources among all faculty members.