Our Community Values serve as a guide for the actions of all members of our Department. We are developing and committing to a slate of Values-Based Initiatives inspired by consideration of what we can do to better represent our Values. A few of those initiatives, both new and in-development, are briefly summarized below. This list serves only to provide relevant examples and is by no means comprehensive, with more initiatives either developing now or expected in the near future. Our intent is for our Community Values to inspire and inform continued efforts along these lines in the long-term.
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
The Department is establishing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) charged with focusing entirely on these critical issues. DEIC is a standing committee composed of faculty, staff, postdocs and students. DEIC, despite not being a standard faculty committee, is empowered to formally recommend changes and new policies and procedures to the Department. The Committee will prioritize reviewing and improving recruitment, admissions, hiring, resourcing, and success for underrepresented groups within the Department.
Faculty 360 Reviews
Beginning this academic year, the Department has committed to piloting 360 reviews for our faculty. A 360 review involves taking feedback from supervisees, colleagues and supervisors and combining it into a holistic evaluation of strengths and areas for improvement. This new process will be designed to reflect our values, with key aspects of the review focused on equity and diversity; treating people with respect regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity; striving toward a more inclusive work environment. Over the next academic year, all members of the departmental appointments committee (a group of nine senior faculty, including the Department Head, who oversee hiring and promotions within the Department) will be reviewed in this way. The intent is for all faculty to complete this kind of evaluation over the next three years followed by recurring evaluation in the years to come.
Mentorship Spotlight Award
The Department is introducing Mentorship Spotlight Awards to recognize excellence in mentoring by graduate and undergraduate students, postdocs, and staff. The nomination and award process will occur twice per year. Winners will receive a small cash award, swag, and recognition on the Department’s website, in the newsletter, and on video screens.
We revised all our regular annual review forms and meeting processes to now explicitly elicit discussion of our community values. The revised annual forms (links below) require members of our Department to reflect at least once per year on how they have contributed to these values of respect, inclusivity, well-being, and integrity.
We are renewing our commitment to the Chemistry Cares program, designed to provide opportunities for the Department to come together and contribute to the Greater Boston community.
Graduate Student Exit Interviews
A plan is in the final stages of development at the Quality of Life Committee (QoL) for collecting detailed feedback and input from all our graduate student members to inform efforts to improve our Department community, especially to better reflect our core values. The expectation is to implement exit interviews in time for the February 2021 degree list.
Chemistry Department Mental Health Seminar Series
Support for mental health has been identified as a major need across MIT. QoL has developed and is now fine-tuning a proposal for regular events within the Department focused on mental health, in an effort to raise awareness, improve our ability to care for each other, and enhance the accessibility of critical resources.
Recurring Diversity and Inclusion Training Program
A partnership in development with QoL that the Department has formally committed to implementing by June 2021.