URI President Brings Women's Issues to Top of Agenda
President and Provost Announce Formationof President's Commission on
Status of Women
KINGSTON, RI -- Monday, December 20, 1999 --- URI President Robert L.
Carothers and Provost M. Beverly Swan have announced the establishment of
the President's Commission on the Status of Women at the University of Rhode
Island, the formation of a steering committee, and a series of steps intended
to advance the progress of women at URI.
"The Commission is being created to help promote an environment
free of discrimination in which the unique contributions of each woman will
flourish," said President Carothers. "The University recognizes
that creating a climate of inclusion for women is essential in sustaining
a strong and productive institution of higher learning. Furthermore, we
believe that a healthy environment for both minority and majority groups
helps build a sense of community for all," he added.
"The University has proven to be an institution committed to issues
of diversity. In keeping with that commitment, the President has determined
to bring issues related to women to the forefront by making them a priority
on the University's agenda," said Provost Swan, who also holds the
title of vice president for academic affairs.
President Carothers and Provost Swan have been meeting with members of
the URI Committee on Equity for Women since June, discussing a wide range
of issues of concern to women. As a result of those discussions, in addition
to the Commission, the president announced that the University will:
find a new home for the Women's Center-the process will begin to include
a new facility to house the Women's Center in the capital improvement plan.
The Center is now located in an aging building on the periphery of the Kingston
Campus. In the interim, one of the vacant fraternity houses on Upper College
Road is being prepared to serve as a temporary headquarters for the Center.
Appoint a full-time director to the Women's Center and provide funds
Put in place a process for keeping the university community informed
of outcomes of cases involving sexual discrimination, harassment or assault.
Begin the process for a permanent Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity
and Diversity Officer with a commitment to women's issues.
Continue the search for a full-time assistant Affirmative Action, Equal
Opportunity Diversity Officer with special responsibility for sexual harassment
"Women constitute approximately 57 percent of the student population
at URI. This initiative will aid in assuring that their unique needs are
addressed," said Provost Swan.
Lisa Harlow, professor of psychology, and one of the faculty members
involved in the recent planning efforts noted that, "Although there
have been enviable gains in recent years surrounding women and science,
there has been a growing realization that a few pockets of inequity and
injustice exist on campus, and that these need to be addressed so that more
can share in the spirit of engaging learning and collegiality.
"These issues have been met with sincere concern and the offering
of constructive solutions by the president and provost at URI," said
Harlow. "Though the suggestions may not always be implemented quickly
enough to alleviate the disheartening conditions for some, the formation
of a Commission on the Status of Women at URI is moving us forward in a
collective undertaking that may well lead to campus wide change."
A steering committee for the President's Commission on the Status of
Women has been appointed by the president. Its charge is to refine the Commission's
mission statement and further develop its objectives and goals. The steering
committee will activate the Commission early next year and propose Commission
membership to the President.
The Commission, which will include men, women, and traditionally underrepresented
members of the community, will be comprised of no fewer than 25 voting members.
Appointments will be for three years with one consecutive reappointment
The members of the steering committee of the Commission are:
Carolyn Sovet of West Kingston -Assistant Director of Student Life
Laura Tanner of Warwick -undergraduate, Women's Studies major
Sarah Bendoraitis of Lebanon, Ct. - undergraduate, Women's Studies and Political
Lisa Harlow of Exeter - Professor, Psychology
Donna Hughes of Kingston -Director and Associate Professor, Women's Studies
Christine Wilson of Narragansett -Assistant Director for Student Leadership
Mavis Nimoh of Pawtucket -undergraduate, Political Science and Theatre major
Ex Officio Advisor to the Committee: Dana Shugar of Wyoming-Professor, Women's
Studies and English
President's Commission on the Status of Women
The newly appointed steering committee for the President's Commission
on the Status of Women will refine the Commission's mission statement and
further develop its objectives and goals
Among the proposed objectives of the Commission are:
Establish a specific agenda around issues that concern women at the University
of Rhode Island.
Recommend additional strategies to enhance or change existing policies
through the review of polices and programs already in place.
Provide and circulate information concerning programming, reports, and
educational opportunities and materials to the University community and
The proposed goals of the Commission include:
Ensure that personal safety for women is preeminent with an emphasis
on prevention through educational programs for the university community.
Intensify efforts to recruit and retain women of color in all sectors
of the institution and increase the presence of women in areas/disciplines
where they are underrepresented.
Ensure that sexual harassment is addressed through increased emphasis
on prevention, reporting, and effective disciplinary measures.
Address issues of tenure, retention, and promotion of women to bring
their numbers more in line with those of their male counterparts.
Address any issues for the correction or prevention of a "chilly"
campus and classroom environment.
Provide an adequate Women's Center as the single best source of information,
education, and advocacy in matters of concern to women.
Address the issue of needed enhancement of family leave and childcare.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Linda A. Acciardo (401) 874-2116