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FORWARD Forum (April 26, 2016) Addresses NDSU Employee Retention

An overflow crowd at the second FORWARD Forum participated in a highly interactive presentation/discussion to address the question “How Can We Retain Valued Colleagues at NDSU?”

Dr. Christine McGeorge, Professor of Human Development and Family Science, presented data (from the most recent NDSU Work-Life Survey) on faculty considerations for leaving or staying at NDSU.  Responses indicate that nearly 65% of responding faculty had considered leaving NDSU based on their work environment, and nearly half of these individuals had applied for other positions.  The top three factors influencing consideration to leave for women were climate of the department/unit/lab (28.3%), lack of support for research (24.3%), and climate for women (18.2%); most common factors cited by men were salary and benefits (22.0%), lack of support for research (17.4%), and workload allocation, work/life satisfaction, and geographic location  (14.7% each).  The most common factors that contributed to women faculty members’ consideration for staying at NDSU included quality of community (19.2%), colleagues in department/unit/lab (17.2%), and salary and benefits (14.1%); top factors contributing to staying for men were colleagues in department/unit/lab (22%), quality of community (20.2%), climate of department/unit/lab, and work/life satisfaction (15.6% each).

Dr. Greg Lardy, Professor and Head of Animal Sciences, provided perspective on the cost of departures.  Obvious financial costs involve searches to refill the position, retooling labs and other start-up costs, loss of grant funding and research productivity, important work left undone, and uncovered class sections.  Dr. Lardy also stressed the nonfinancial costs associated with departures of valued colleagues including morale decline and work group disruption, with resulting detrimental effects on the overall unit climate. 

Dr. Ann Burnett, Professor and Director of Women and Gender Studies, facilitated discussion/idea generation around 1) what NDSU as an institution can do to better retain valued colleagues, and 2) what we as individuals or within our units can do to facilitate retention.  Recognizing that departures result from the balance of “push” factors that essentially push individuals toward other employment, and “pull” factors that more tightly tie the individual to the institution, this session explicitly focused on the push factors. The large group of participants including staff, administrators and faculty individually contributed many valuable ideas, with considerable emphasis on dual career hiring improvements at NDSU as an institution, and better handling of bullying or other micro-aggressions at the individual and unit level.  A complete listing of ideas generated through discussion at this first FORWARD Forum can be obtained on request from

Follow-up activities as a result of these ideas include establishing an institutional mechanism for faculty exit interviews; moving forward with a proposed anti-bullying policy; scheduling a workshop in early fall on micro-aggressions and micro-interventions, and a FORWARD Forum  focused on the “pull” side of employee retention – “What is special about NDSU?” that encourages people to stay and contribute. 

FORWARD Forums are interactive presentations/discussions aimed at surfacing issues and generating ideas and action plans for making NDSU an even better place.

FORWARD Forum (April 1, 2016) Addresses NDSU Climate

Participants at the first FORWARD Forum – a presentation/discussion series aimed at making NDSU an even better place – identified barriers and suggested actions to improve our organizational climate for diversity.

Results from the NDSU Climate for Diversity Survey presented by Kara-Gravley Stack, Director of Diversity Initiatives, and Chris Ray, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator in the School of Education, revealed room for improvement in the organizational climate at NDSU.  Their presentation, “How Can We Improve the Climate at NDSU?”, engaged the audience to contribute their ideas.

The good news is that 76% of survey respondents reported feeling “comfortable” or “very comfortable” with the climate for diversity at NDSU; 60-68% of respondents believe administrators value diversity; and all faculty and most staff groups indicated small (<10%) improvements in comfort with climate from 2009 to 2014.  However, the overall feeling of comfort with climate for diversity at NDSU has declined somewhat over this time period, from 83% to 76%.  Disparities between specific faculty and staff identity groups are notable in the 2014 results, including the 12% gap between faculty women and men that has persisted from 2009 to 2014, and a 20% gap between perceptions of staff of color and white staff, an increase from 9% in 2009.  Further, faculty, staff and students all reported increases in personal experience with harassment in 2014, with higher rates in minority identity groups than in non-minority identity groups.  Most respondents who indicated harassment on the survey did not officially report it within the institution.  (The full survey report is available at .)

Barriers to climate improvements that were identified through audience discussion include insufficient training/open discussion about climate-related issues such as harassment, perceived accountability gaps and resulting of lack of trust in reporting, an unclear institutional home for climate-related issues, and need for more diversity/broader cultural understanding on our campus and in the community.

Ideas suggested for immediate actions that individuals can take to improve climate are speaking up when issues contributing to negative climate appear, supporting our colleagues, participating in trainings and discussions about climate-related issues, and becoming familiar with our rights and responsibilities in the workplace. 

Suggested actions to work toward as an institution include more training about climate-related issues, improved policy and policy implementation, and clear signals of support for a continuously improving climate. 

A complete listing of ideas generated through discussion at this first FORWARD Forum can be obtained from

The next FORWARD Forum will take place Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 11:00-12:00 in the Badlands Room of Memorial Union.  The topic is “How Can We Retain Our Valued Colleagues at NDSU?”.

NDSU FORWARD/Provost Office Host Leadership Workshop

 One of FORWARD’s initiatives is faculty advancement and leadership.  Leadership and succession planning are major issues facing higher education.  In the interest of developing current and future leaders, NDSU FORWARD/Provost Office hosted a full-day leadership workshop on March 18, 2016 for 31 administrators and emerging faculty leaders nominated and sponsored by their respective deans.  The fifth annual leadership development opportunity was again facilitated by Claudia and Ruben Fernandez of Fast Track Leadership, who provide education and experience with different executive skill sets on each visit.

This year’s workshop focused on how to foster innovation and creativity and how to create a culture of organizational accountability for successful implementation of new initiatives and ideas.  Interactive exercises and adult learning theory were employed to expand the practical leadership soft skills of participants, especially geared towards uncovering larger sets of creative options, and planning for accountable environments where goals are identified and achieved.


Leap Research Grant Award

NDSU FORWARD has named Dr. Ying Huang, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the recipient of a Leap Grant, with funding provided through ND EPSCoR.  The $30,000 seed grant will assist Dr. Huang’s efforts to acquire external funding to further pursue her research in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).

Leap research grants are intended to increase the retention and advancement of NDSU faculty, two core goals of FORWARD initiatives.  These bridging grants are awarded to female faculty in STEM fields, and require submission of a research proposal to a funding agency within 12 months of the end of the award, as well as submission of at least one peer reviewed journal article during the award period. 

Applications for the Leap research grant program were reviewed by external reviewers from other universities, which significantly influenced award selection.  The number of awards was limited by the amount of funding available, resulting in difficult choices among the six applications for this round of the program.

Dr. Huang’s project is entitled “Integrated Vehicle Identification System Using Low-cost Fiber Optic Infrastructure Sensor”.  With the United States as the world’s largest market for passenger vehicles (estimated at 250.3 million registered passenger vehicles, with 10% annual growth) challenging the capability of the ground transportation network, there is a huge need for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) which can evaluate roadway performance and improve the efficiency of existing systems. However, an ITS can be only as effective as the quality of the real-time traffic data that they depend on, which highly rely on the ability to accurately identify individual vehicles. In this project, the Dr. Huang is going to develop sensors for accurate vehicle identification using innovative in-pavement fiber optic sensor networks. With embedded sensors at key locations of an interested road section, it is expected to provide sufficient independent parameters for vehicle identification. This project will systematically analyze the performance of the developed sensor and its implementation for vehicle identification through theoretic analysis and numerical simulations and provide validation of its effectiveness through laboratory and field tests.

Dr. Ying Huang received her Ph. D. degree in Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2012.  In addition to her research in ITS, she also is interested in pipeline corrosion mitigation and assessment, smart structures and structural health monitoring, multi-hazard mitigation in harsh environments, and big data for transportation.

The team from Mechanical Engineering. 2014-2015 ADVANCE FORWARD Department Award winners.

Department of Mechanical Engineering receives
ADVANCE FORWARD Department award

The Department of Mechanical Engineering received the 2014-2015 ADVANCE FORWARD Department Award at the annual FORWARD Kick-Off event held on October 2.

The ADVANCE FORWARD Department award is presented by the Commission on the Status of Women Faculty to recognize significant department progress towards improving campus climate and gender equity within the faculty ranks. 

The award review panel noted the equitable and positive climate of the Mechanical Engineering Department as a factor in hiring, retaining, and advancing women faculty.  The panel specifically cited the department’s “concerted, genuine effort to accommodate faculty while ensuring that research and teaching productivity remain high”, and efforts to provide the varied resources needed for success.  While Mechanical Engineering is one of the most male dominated fields, NDSU’s department has recruited and facilitated advancement of women faculty to create a welcoming climate for both faculty and students.

The Advance FORWARD project encourages applications from male faculty to serve as Advocates in the FORWARD Advocate/ Allies Program. Applications are due April 2.  For more information click here.

Searching for Excellence: Search training for Search Committees

Tuesday Sept 17, 2019. 2-4 pm
Meadow Lark room, MU.
Register Here

Wednesday Dec 4, 2019. 9-11 am
Meadow Lark room, MU.
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Friday January 17, 2020. 1-3 pm
Meadow Lark room, MU.
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Tuesday March 24, 2020. 10-Noon
Meadow Lark room, MU.
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Vision Statement

NDSU FORWARD is committed to establishing a university culture in which all are nurtured and supported to develop to their fullest potential, and the criteria for success and achievement incorporate the unique skills and contributions of both men and women.

NDSU FORWARD will be instrumental in creating a culture of support balanced with concern for personal and family values and responsibilities, enhancing job performance and satisfaction. We envision an environment where women are leaders and decision makers at all levels of the University. By these efforts NDSU will transform as an institution and will demonstrate its commitment to gender equity through a record of accomplishment in recruitment, development,  and retention of women.

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Sponsored by National Science Foundation 
ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Award HRD-0811239 

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Published by: FORWARD

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 11:45:07 AM
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