I came to Purdue as an assistant professor and moved up the ranks to become a full professor in 2017, and in the same year was appointed as the Butler Chair and Director of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence. Started in 2004, the main mission of the Butler Center is to enable the excellence and success of faculty, particularly women, through professional development programs, initiatives, research, and workshop to enhance leadership skills and abilities of women. The initial endowment of about 4 million dollars expanded further in 2018-19 with two new endowments and a donation from three first-time donors to Purdue who noted that the Center programs made them excited to give to the Center.
Since starting at the Butler Center in 2017, I continued existing programs and expanded them, created new initiatives, and developed a research arm. Salient among the initiatives is the Coaching and Resource Network (CRN) for assistant and associate professors that is being replicated at two other universities. Bring pro-active in the current context of the pandemic, I created the Support Circle with Faculty Allies to promote a culture of care on campus. The monthly drop-in sessions involve discussion of key topics such as tips and resources for the new academic year (as faculty return after a challenging year), leaders in their own words about supporting faculty, and wellness. A series of workshops and panel sessions have been organized on wide-ranging topics for faculty and staff. An upcoming workshop (Oct 2021) is 'Cracking the Confidence Code.'
Continuing to build my leadership skills, I attended the 2019 Harvard’s Women in Education Leadership program. I am a 2019-20 HERS Leadership Institute program alumna and completed a capstone project on faculty retention and inclusive excellence.
In my about four years in the current position, I have focused on the Center’s major mission of fostering the success of faculty, particularly women and underrepresented minorities. I have built alliances across units and engaged the entire campus, particularly faculty, in discussions about support, mentoring, gaining tenure and promotion, and being attentive to diversity, equity, inclusion. My other strengths include a strong understanding of university procedures and processes as related to faculty, familiarity with the university decision-making structure, and willingness to take the initiative and lead new challenges.
My administrative leadership experiences span the university, college, and department levels. In addition to engaging the 13 Colleges of Purdue’s main campus, I have also involved the Centers in Purdue’s Discovery Park and Purdue’s regional campuses. In all the administrative positions, I have held, I built strong relationships through trust and mutual respect with various stakeholders.
My strengths encompass the following main areas (see CV for details):
Academic administrative and service experience
Creating and offering professional development programs for faculty and staff
Commitment to inclusive excellence
Assessment skills (data driven assessment of initiatives and programs)
Professional development offerings from the Center include two key national conferences. The conference for assistant professors’ targets faculty, post docs, and graduate students. The second conference is the conference for associate professors, which I started in spring 2019, to mainly address barriers that women and women of color face in moving up the ranks (nationally about 32% of women are full professors). The conference was referenced as a resource in an Inside Higher Ed article in May 2020. Attendance at these conferences have grown steeply over the past three years and have served as spaces for faculty to network and learn. Panel sessions have focused of tenure/promotion processes, collaborating, and balancing research and teaching. Such sessions also serve as forums for disseminating and sharing information related to faculty careers and available resources.
At the Butler Center, I have developed a research arm in three main ways:
In order to document and promote research related to academia, I created the peer-reviewed Working Paper Series: Navigating Careers in the Academy: Gender, Race, and Class in spring 2018. The most recent issues focus on higher education and COVID-19 and was the topic of discussion at the March Support Circle drop-in. Since the spring of 2020, the series is open to submissions nationally and globally. An editorial board of faculty members guides the series.
In 2020, I identified a need for resources such as foundational documents that inform university policy. An example is the Best Practices Tools. The Tool about documenting impact of COVID-19 on faculty is the basis for, and referenced in, Purdue’s revised guidelines for annual assessment reviews/promotion considering the disruptions due to the pandemic. The Tool has been repeatedly cited as a resource in the Chronicle of Higher Education (Feb 25, 2020; January 2021; February 25, 2021) and was also shared with Provosts of the Big Ten and other universities. The most recent Tool provides best practices about how to engage in discussions of race.
I am engaged in higher education related research projects. I am now conducting a study to assess the impact of the Coaching and Resource Network (CRN). I am also the lead PI in an ongoing study about faculty experiences with faculty search processes and the impact of our hiring workshops intended to diversify faculty.
I have given several invited talks (see CV for list). Prominent among them is:
Keynote (virtual and live) at 2nd Annual Conference of GEARING-Roles, GENDER AND LEADERSHIP in Higher Education, November 9, 2020.
Title of Keynote: Doing the Work of Leadership to Transform Institutions
Major university level committees I currently serve on are:
University Faculty Compensation and Benefits Committee
University Promotions Committee – Panel A (tenure track/tenured faculty)
Faculty Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (inaugural committee started in fall 2020). See: https://www.purdue.edu/provost/about/newsletter/oct2020/diversity-two.php
Writings and Features
Women in Leadership: Challenges and Recommendations Inside Higher Ed, July 17, 2020. Even in top positions, women face challenges within institutional structures, systems and mind-sets that require transformative change, argue M. Cristina Alcalde and Mangala Subramaniam.
See SBBCLE mentioned as a resource in From Associate to Full Professor in Inside Higher Ed, 5/22/20. Keisha N. Blain shares some tips, strategies and resources to help midcareer scholars overcome barriers to promotion.
Underpinnings of Gender and Colorism in the Culture of Niceness in Universities. See here.
Presented at (1) Academic Deans Council, Purdue University, February 27, 2019, (2) ADVANCE Steering Committee, Purdue University, April 2019, (3) Dean, Polytechnic’s leadership team, Purdue University, April 2019.
College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Faculty Fellow 2017-18 (inaugural fellow)
Project: Institutional Mechanisms for Breaking the ‘Glass Ceiling’: Gender, Race, and Mid-Career Faculty
Main goal of exploratory project was to develop best practices for recognition of the excellence of associate professors in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). Intended to facilitate retention of both women and racial minority faculty to ensure they move up the career ladder - by becoming full professors - and take up leadership positions.
To make information about promotion criteria and processes available to faculty, the meeting organized for assistants and associate (as two separate groups) will continue annually. Report was presented at CLA Senate Spring 2018 meeting. See report.
In addition, an exploratory study about climate was initiated by administering a structured survey in CLA. Reliable and valid measures for climate were developed. Details here.
For additional information and details of administrative experience see my CV.