Virtual Leadership Council Keeps COSAM Connected
More than 30 participants were part of the summer Leadership Council update on July 11 for the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM). The meeting was conducted by Zoom and was also attended by the College leadership.
Dean Nicholas J. Giordano welcomed Leadership Council members and gave an update on plans for reopening the campus and conducting classes in the fall.
Kimberly Mulligan, assistant dean for Inclusion, Equity and Diversity which is the only office of this type at the college-level at Auburn University, spoke about a new taskforce that was established to address concerns about social justice issues that have been the subject of national discussions. This taskforce is composed of faculty, staff and graduate students in COSAM.
“This is not just about increasing diversity, but creating institutional change that allows students, faculty, and staff to have a sense of belonging and feel included,” Mulligan said.
After making a joint statement with the Dean in response of the wake of the death of George Floyd in May, she emailed COSAM faculty, staff and students asking them about their interest in being part of a taskforce and received an overwhelming response.
“It reinforced that COSAM is the right place for me,” she added.
Dean Giordano shared the importance of her work over the past few years.
“Kim started an REU program and she has built pipelines to bring in college students to work in Auburn University research labs each summer and received funding from the National Science Foundation for this program,” Dean Giordano added. “Kim’s office is making a difference and we all need to thank her for her work.”
Three new departmental chairs were introduced:
- Ash Abebe – Mathematics and Statistics
- Doug Goodwin – Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Allen Landers – Physics
Each chair had an opportunity to speak about teaching and research in their departments, leadership teams, new faculty, and future plans.
During the question and answer session at the end of the virtual program, Mulligan was asked a question about reporting statistics for her grant. In addition to the number of students and where they matriculate to, statistics for the grant includes important factors such as mentorship and a sense of belonging. She added that an important component of the new REU program will be helping the faculty advisors to themselves become better mentors.
“I became certified to facilitate workshops to help faculty and students develop good mentor-mentee relationships,” Mulligan said. “I want to teach students how to speak up and become advocates for themselves.”
In the last two years, almost 25 students from underrepresented groups have completed the REU program.
“This is the kind institutional change that we want to encourage in COSAM,” shared Dean Giordano.