ADVANCE and ERAC-REACHing Lehigh Staff

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The mission of Lehigh ADVANCE focuses on women faculty in STEM fields. However, with over 1200 employees working alongside our 463 faculty (240 full time, tenure/tenure-track in STEM, 2011 data), it is easy to imagine the impact University staff members have on the lives and careers of faculty and on the culture of academic departments, programs, and colleges. University employees have several opportunities to learn about the institution, and one of the most interactive approaches is through the Human Resources Employee Relations Advisory Committee (ERAC) REACH program, Resources to Engage, Accomplish, Connect & Help.

REACH is an interdepartmental and university-wide program aimed at fostering professional relationships and networks among faculty and staff. Monthly sessions of small groups attend presentations from representatives of various functional units or programs of Lehigh (for example, Alumni Relations, First-Year Experience, the Chaplain's Office, the Council on Equity and Community) and in those sessions, participants can discuss how the information they just learned may be relevant to their work and how they could envision collaborating.

This semester, ADVANCE is included on the agenda of two REACH cohort groups. During the first discussion (Monday, March 12, 2012), Marci Levine summarized the interconnected goals of ADVANCE. For some REACH participants, they can have an impact by being knowledgeable advocates for best practices in hiring for diverse faculty or by facilitating applications for the Lehigh ADVANCE Small Grants Programs to faculty with whom they interact. Themes of Building Community, reducing isolation, and interdisciplinarity resonated with the March 12th participants who were eager to brainstorm ways their programs could bridge across STEM departments and also between STEM and STEEM (where the second "E" is Education), and STEM and non-STEM. The second opportunity for ERAC REACH participants to learn about ADVANCE takes place as part of a Provost Office Panel on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. Inquiries to participate in REACH should be made to ERAC members.

Whether delivering programs in the arts, providing communications expertise for engineering departments, keeping departmental finances in line, delivering outreach in student affairs, or being the hub of departments in the College of Education, REACH participants have the opportunity this semester to find out about the state of STEM women faculty at Lehigh and the research, initiatives and resources made possible through the presence of ADVANCE.