Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Tools and Resources for Enhancing Department Climate

Creating a Positive Departmental Climate at Virginia Tech: A Compendium of Successful Strategies

Virginia Tech

(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Collegiality, Communication, Department Policies, Faculty Evaluation, Faculty Recognition and Appreciation, Mentorship, Promotion and Tenure, Transparency, Values, Work/Life)

The Virginia Tech compendium focuses on the five critical areas: 1) Creating a sense of intellectual community 2) Providing for fair and full evaluations of staff and faculty 3) Improving communications to insure clarity and mutual respect and understanding 4) Building more effective departmental policies and 5) Helping department members achieve an effective work-life balance.

Each section makes reference to survey data which address the topic. Details of the survey methodology and complete results are available at:

Creating a Positive Department Climate: Principles for Best Practices

University of Michigan

              (Keywords/ Key Phrases: Assistance, Respect, Transparency, Uniformity)

Jean Waltman and Carol Hollenshead developed Creating a Positive Department Climate: Principles for Best Practices as part of the NSF ADVANCE program at the University of Michigan. They provide a useful framework for considering department climate and the three principles that support a positive climate for all faculty 1) Transparency: Making all kinds of information available and easy to find, 2) Uniformity: Leveling the field and dealing equitably with all faculty and 3.) Assistance: Attending to the needs of faculty; offering mentoring and other types of help. The report is organized according to the problems women faculty in particular most
often speak about, but these are issues that arise for many faculty, regardless of gender or other identifiable characteristics.

Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit

Brown University - Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion

(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Active Listening, Behavior, Coaching, Communication, Harassment/Discrimination, Hiring, Inclusive Culture, Mentoring, Respect, Transparency)

The Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit has been created to identify best practices for promoting diversity and inclusion at Brown. The toolkit provides guidelines for demonstrating an understanding of compliance, cultural awareness, respect for differences, and coaching for positive change towards inclusive practices for all identities. The purpose of this resource is to provide assistance for departmental leadership that seeks to diversify recruiting and establish best practices that respect individual unique attributes of each faculty member.

Effective Policies and Programs for Retention and Advancement of Women in Academia

UC Hastings College of the Law

(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Childcare, Chilly Climate, Dual Career Support, Gender Bias, Faculty Search Committees, Mentoring and Networking Programs, University Policies, Work/Life)

Effective policies and programs that eliminate the chilly climate for women can improve faculty satisfaction and reduce costly attrition rates. This resource is helpful for departments seeking to respond to climate issues that relate to recruiting, retaining and advancing women faculty. The Guide covers topics to support ladder-rank faculty such as: 1) Design of Parental Leaves and Stop-the-Clock Policies, 2) Dual Career Support, 3) Mentoring and Networking Programs, 4) Childcare Needs, 5)Part-Time Tenure Track Alternatives and 6) Flexible Benefits Programs.

Employee Policy and Procedures on Discrimination, Harassment, Gender-Based Misconduct, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking

Columbia University

(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Dating Violence, Discrimination, Domestic Violence, Equal Employment Opportunity, Harassment, Sexual Assault, Stalking, University Policies)

Columbia University is committed to providing a learning, living, and working environment free from discrimination and harassment and to fostering a nurturing and vibrant community founded upon the fundamental dignity and worth of all of its members. This Policy sets forth the University’s position on discrimination and harassment, specifies prohibited conduct, and delineates other duties and obligations of University employees and other members of the University community. In addition, this Policy describes reporting options and available resources, including the availability of accommodations and interim measures.

Enhancing Department Climate: A Guide for Department Chairs  

University of Wisconsin - Madison

(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Biases, By-laws, Communication, Harassment/ Discrimination/ Bullying, Mentoring, Microaggressions, Pay Equity, Respect, Retention, Tenure and Promotion, Transparency, Work/Life)

This document provides practical advice to address 8 common department-level climate concerns: 1) Lack of respect, consideration, and/or Politeness 2) Insufficient sense of community or belonging 3) Lack of recognition, visibility, and/or value 4)Ineffective communication 5) Lack of support or inequitable access to professional development opportunities 6) Difficulties achieving balance between work and family or personal life 7) Illegal behaviors and demeaning, sexualizing, hostile, condescending language and behaviors and 8) Retention and/or tenure of women and minority faculty, staff, and students.

Gender Equity Guidelines for Department Chairs

American Association of University Professors

(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Assistance, Equity, Gender, Harassment, Hiring, Mentoring, Retention, Transparency, Uniformity, Work/Life)

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) provides resources for the retention of women faculty members. THE AAUP recommends procedures that will create a welcoming environment for women faculty through supports and resources in the following areas: 1)  Faculty Career Management and Development: Retention and Mentoring, 2) Measuring Gender Equity, 3) Sexual Harassment, and 4) Work and Family Balance. The Gender Equity Guidelines for Department Chairs offers guidelines that department chairs may follow to utilize these principles and create a supportive and equitable academic environment for all faculty members, but particularly for women faculty.

Guide to Best Practices in Faculty Mentoring

Columbia University – Office of the Provost

(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Collegiality, Communication, Equity, Evaluation, Informal vs. Formal Mentoring, Mentoring Models, Oversight, Respect, Sustainability, Transparency, Work/Life)

The Office of the Provost’s Guide to Best Practices in Faculty Mentoring provides direction for departments to implement mentoring programs that are tailored to their faculty and departmental development needs. This Guide provides a framework for departments to develop mentoring programs, or improve that formal and/or informal mentoring programs that are already in place. A checklist and logic model for academic units implementing mentoring programs are included as appendices.

Guide to Best Practices in Faculty Retention

Columbia University – Office of the Provost

               (Keywords/ Key Phrases: Diversity, Inclusion, Leadership Development, Professional Development, Resource Allocation, Retention)

This guide is intended to help Department Chairs fulfill the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through best practices found to help retain faculty. The practices and strategies listed in this document were informed by case study reviews of best practices proven effective at several peer institutions; literature review of studies regarding barriers to the retention of faculty, particularly faculty of color and other underrepresented groups; faculty experiences at Columbia; and an examination of best practices across Columbia.

Guide to Creation of Departmental Equity Survey

The Hunter College Gender Equity Project

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(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Gender, Equity, Evaluation, Promotion, Tenure, Salary, Service)

Some suggestions for metrics to gather and analyze are included here, as well as ideas for methods to use in gathering information about the department climate.


MIT Faculty Newsletter: What I Learned as a Department Head

Michigan Institute of Technology (MIT)

(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Departmental Culture, Equity, Mentorship, Recruitment, Respect, Retention, Value)

Edmund Bertschinger, MIT former Department Chair and Professor, Department of Physics, opines that kindness and respect are the two most important attributes that department leadership should provide to department community members. In What I Learned as a Department Head, Bertschinger states that emphasis on encouragement, help and accountability are necessary for leaders to shift a department culture. In order to make this shift possible, the former MIT Department Chair shares the “3 R’s” of recruitment, retention, and respectful work environment as methods to develop and support colleagues within your department.

Retaining Faculty at the University of Montana-Missoula

University of Montana-Missoula

(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Collegiality Child Care, Department Climate, Elder Care, Faculty Duties, Faculty Satisfaction, Mentoring, Work Environment, Work/Life)

Helping faculty members balance their professional and personal lives can significantly support faculty productivity and job satisfaction. The Guidebook details the best practices followed at the University of Montana to support faculty work/ life balance. In addition to addressing how to alleviate the stressors of balancing academic and personal matters, this Guidebook provides recommendations on how to create effective mentoring models and positive department climates for female, minority and junior faculty members as part of a department’s standard operating procedures.

Strategic Planning for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Toolkit

University of California, Berkeley

(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Assessment, Assistance, Collegiality, Communication, Department Goals, Equity, Inclusion, Mentoring, Productive Climate, Strategic Planning, Transparency)

UC Berkeley has developed the Strategic Planning for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Toolkit to guide departments on achieving transformational change and developing departmental diversity plans. The toolkit includes an introduction to strategic planning, as well as a comprehensive guide of strategic planning steps. The toolkit outlines the following steps 1) Map Out Planning Process 2) Gather Information and Conduct Self-Assessment 3) Develop Vision – Set Goals, Strategies, Metrics 4) Review Plan with Equity & Inclusion 5) Adopt Plan and Communicate Vision and 6) Implement Plan. The toolkit includes planning tools (checklists, templates, worksheets) to assist departments in developing this 6-step strategic plan. Departments may download versions of the toolkit at:

StratEGIC Toolkit: Strategies for Effecting Gender Equity and Institutional Change

Strategies for Improving Departmental Climate

(Keywords/ Key Phrases:  Departmental Climate, Department Politics, Interpersonal Communication, Gender, Faculty Recognition, Grants, Transparency, Working Environment)

This Brief provides an overview of the ADVANCE department climate initiatives that sought to help departments reduce conflict and find ways of working that were less emotionally demanding and more productive for everyone. The Brief provides an overview of rationale, purpose, audience, effective models, and best practices of such departmental-targeted climate initiatives.

StratEGIC Toolkit: Strategies for Effecting Gender Equity and Institutional Change

Mentoring and Networking Activities

(Keywords/ Key Phrases:  Assistance, Career Development, Coaching, Collegiality, Isolation, Communities, Mentoring, Mentoring Model Objects, Networking, Support)

This Brief provides an overview of rationale, purpose, audience, effective models, and best practices of mentoring and networking programs. In addition, this resource shares benefits and limitations of mentoring and networking activities that may be provided at the departmental level, such as individual one-on-one mentoring, mentoring committees with colleagues, and networking activities with peers or with mixed groups.

TECAID Model: Leading Engineering Department Culture Change in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Transforming Engineering Culture to Advance Inclusion and Diversity

(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Cultural Change, Diversity, Engineering, Equity, Inclusion, Workforce) 

The TECAID project was developed by the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN), American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Purdue University, Center for Evaluation & Research in Science & Engineering (CERSE), and Kardia Group, LLC. The TECAID Model focuses on helping department leaders, faculty, and staff lead diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) culture change within engineering departments. Impetus for such change may be instigated by an array of factors including challenges from students; observation(s) and/or personal experience(s) of inequities; faculty and staff discussions; presidential initiatives; strategic planning; and/or national events. The TECAID Model provides a blueprint for DEI skill building and change-leadership development, guidance through the change process, and recommended resources. 

Tips for Improving Departmental Climate

University of Arizona

(Keywords/ Key Phrases: Collegiality, Communication, Inclusive Climate, Mentoring, Productive Climate)

This ADVANCE document includes a questionnaire for departmental leadership to assess promotion of an inclusive and productive climate. Each department is encouraged to increase collegiality by assessing their current climate, then creating a plan of action that outlines communication styles, by laws and guidelines that are beneficial to all department faculty members.