Download a PDF version of the Annual Report

The President’s Commission on the Status of University Women (PCOSUW) continued to focus on and work toward advancing its mission during FY15. To this end, the Commission met three times throughout the year. One meeting was held each semester to promote its work and continue to focus on the ongoing tasks of each committee. The final meeting was a retreat in April of 2015 which was the first of its kind. The retreat focused on laying the ground work for the next Strategic Plan and fortifying the Commission for its role in the future without MSU’s NSF Institutional Transformation ADVANCE Grant.

In addition to the retreat, the major accomplishments this year are reiterated by the committee reports (see below), but in summary are:

  • Updated the operating bylaws
  • The sick leave pool launched and is currently being housed in Human Resources
  • The Policy Review Portal is active
  • PCOSUW awards were granted this year to worthy recipients
  • Executive Committee met five times throughout the year

In the future, the Commission looks forward to adopting a new five year strategic plan and continuing its work toward the discovery and elimination of intuitional barriers to the success of women. It will also provide leadership in inspiring women to become leaders, problem solvers, and innovators who make meaningful contributions to MSU, the State of Montana, and the society at large.

The following information about additional progress made this year:

            Committee Reports

                      Communications Committee

                      Recognition Committee

                      Bylaw Committee (Ad hoc)

           Accomplishments/Progress on the Strategic Plan

          Retreat Priorities/Outcomes

Communications Committee Report

Committee Members:

  • Debra Redburn, Chair—Communications Specialist for the College of EHHD

  • Lindsay Murdock—Project Manager for ADVANCE project TRACS

  • Lindsey Jackson—Project Manager for Information Technology Center (ITC)

  • Allison Kosto-4-H Specialist, MSU Extension

  • Celia O’Connor-Community Member/MSU Alumna

  • Nilam Patel-Social Media Strategist, MSU Web and Digital Communications


  1. Complete update and revision of web site, including committee lists, membership, award winners (thanks Lindsay Murdock)

  2. Created updated email list serve—(thank you to Chris Salstrom in EHHD Dean’s Office)
  3. Created a Facebook page—please like us
  4. Created a Power Point slide presentation for use with campus and community groups (thanks Lindsey Jackson)
  5. Working on a marketing/rack card with updated information
  6. Expanded sub-committee to include member of MSU Communications—Nilam Patel

Initiatives for Spring 2015

  1. Using suggestions from full commission, complete information for back of marketing card—revised, shorter mission statement?, list of accomplishments
  2. Like us on Facebook and invite 5 friends to like us
  3. Have MSU News Service do a story on where we are now
  4. Explore ways to interface with campus and community
    1. Informal brown bag lunch with panel of diversity award winners—invite campus, and also targeted organizations in the community—BPW, sororities, Women’s Foundation of Montana, other women’s organizations (service, philanthropic) 
    2. Commission members use power point to present programs to community organizations on PCOSUW


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Recognitions Committee Report

Committee Members:

  • Chairs: Betsy Danforth--Director, MSU Women’s Center and Marilyn Lockhart--Director, Center for Faculty Excellence


  • Faculty/staff award: The call for faculty/staff awards went out in October and we had 7 applications. The committee met in November to discuss selections. The awardee was Ariel Donohue from the Diversity Awareness Office who was recognized at Spring Convocation in January.

  • Student awards(s): The committee met in January to discuss the call and timeline for student awards, and the call is currently out campus-wide through the following channels: MSU Today; ASMSU student updates; faculty/staff listserv (Julia Heard); and OAE in Club News! (for student club leaders and faculty advisors). We have so far received thirteen student nominations and will begin sending out notifications next week for the February 27th application deadline. President Cruzado has approved two awards at $500 each for a total of $1,000. The committee decided to pool undergraduate and graduate students together and choose top two applicants.


 Future committee initiatives 

  • A possible renaming of these awards since name is a bit cumbersome and not terribly compelling or descriptive

  • Examination of gender divisions campus-wide of all awards. Any inequities or obvious biases? We will get in touch with Becca Belou about looking into this for a discussion at an April committee meeting.

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By-laws Committee (Ad Hoc)

Chair, Tracy Sterling

Committee member, Anne Camper

Activities: The PCOSUW by-laws were reviewed as requested at the October 9, 2014 Commission meeting by the adhoc by-laws subcommittee and recommended modifications were inserted as track changes. Changes were reviewed and approved by the PCOSUW Executive Committee at their December 11, 2014 meeting. A Word file with track changes will be distributed to the members of the full Commission for their consideration and vote.


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Accomplishments/Progress on the Strategic Plan

Goal 1: Engage in ongoing monitoring and assessment of gender equity and inclusivity within the MSU System.

Strategy 1: Working with appropriate partners (e.g. Affirmative Action and/or HR offices on each campus), assess gender equity for all employee categories.

o Activity: Assemble existing gender and diversity data.

  • Accomplishment: Equity Data Analyst continues to gather and disseminate gender and diversity data at the beginning of every year for faculty, staff and students.

o Activity: Identify appropriate external benchmarks for success.

o Activity: Create easily interpreted reports and disseminate findings.

Strategy 2: Conduct a systematic assessment of university policies for unintended bias or adverse effects on women and diverse communities.

o Activity: Participate in the 3 year Legal Council policy reviews.

o Activity: Flag specific policies that may need closer review.

  • Accomplishment: Equity Policy Task Force has worked closely with the Work-Life Task Force to identify the next policies to update. There have been new policies created (Sick Leave Donation Pool) and others are currently in the pipeline (Opt-Out Stop the Clock, Partner Accommodations).

o Activity: Create a process for the university community, organizations, and groups to suggest to the commission policies they believe need review.

  • Accomplishment: Policy Review Portal on the PCOSUW website.
  • Additional needs: Ensure increased publicity of the website and portal. Ensure a clear process & procedure for new policies & policy changes to follow.

Strategy 3: Conduct an MSU system-wide evaluation of gender equity and inclusiveness through a climate study.

o Activity: Develop or adapt an assessment instrument that will enable widespread participation and reliable results.

  • Accomplishment: Department Head Diversity Studies – now expanded out to all units across campus.

Goal 2: Lead a collaborative effort within and among key stakeholders and partners and actively participate in shared governance.

Strategy 1: Serve as a central clearinghouse for efforts on inclusion and diversity.

o Activity: Create an online clearinghouse of activities, resources, and partner organizations.

  • Accomplishment: All of this is now on the PCOSUW website.

Strategy 2: Identify and build partnerships with key stakeholders through communication and collaboration.

o Activity: Ensure commission seeks and provides input to key University-wide committees.

  • Accomplishment: Commission members from each governing body on campus report to the commission about their groups and report back to their groups about the commission.

o Activity: Work with employee governance groups, offering expertise and resources on gender equity issues.

Strategy 3: Maintain a strong relationship with the University Vice Presidents, Deans, and other Leadership Positions.

o Activity: VP’s, Dean’s and Department Heads have attended numerous events across campus related to equity, diversity, and women’s issues. o Activity: Advise the President and campus on gender issues through a widely distributed annual report.

  • Accomplishment: Three annual reports have been written and disseminated thus far.

Goal 3: Improve campus climate through education, visibility and the celebration of gender equity and diversity in the MSU system.

Strategy 1: Promote and host workshops, focus groups, webinars and other educational opportunities to foster awareness of unconscious bias.

o Activity: Work in collaboration with current MSU system offices that provide training to employees.

  • Accomplishment: Hosted Viriginia Valiant for a campus wide keynote and AWIS webinars in conjunction with ADVANCE Project TRACS
  • Accomplishment: Created the Equity Advocate Program for departments and units across campus.
  • Additional Needs: Continue providing trainings and workshops to more of campus
    • Assist with gaining support for more P&T Training
    • Assist with support for Search Trainings

Strategy 2: Develop a centralized resource of information on gender equity and diversity.

  • Accomplishment: All resources for gender equity and diversity on campus are on the website
  • Additional Needs: Continue to publicize those resources & create a clearing house of their training workshops & events

Strategy 3: Investigate a mechanism for an award structure that recognizes success in increasing and supporting diversity and people who promote diversity within the MSU system.

o Activity: Include a list of award winners in areas related to gender equity and inclusiveness in the annual report to the President.

  • Accomplishment: This is on the Awards section of the website

o Activity: Link to other gender equity programs’ highlights and award winners.

  • Accomplishment: This is also on the Awards section of the website.

o Activity: Increase gender equity in applications of current campus awards.

  • Accomplishment: The Center for Faculty Excellence hosted a workshop to train people on how to write better nominations.
  • Accomplishment: ADVANCE Project TRACS and PCOSUW have created awards specifically for women faculty, staff & students.

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Retreat Priorities/Outcomes

PCOSUW Strategic Planning Retreat               April 15, 2015

Strategic Plan Priorities

**Sustaining and expanding beyond ADVANCE (16 votes)

**Equal pay for equal work (15 votes)

  • Data charrette (staff) and culture of opportunity

**Promoting knowledge of commission on campus (7 votes)

  • Speaker series—in fall: commission distinguished EQ and diversity lecture; Spring: continue implicit bias training at ADVANCE
  • Nominating people for national awards
  • Put returning HERS fellows to work on specific issues campus-wide
  • Road Race

**Improve all levels of communication—accountable/responsible for information exchange (6 votes)

**Chief Diversity Officer with well-funded office $$$$! (6 votes)

Promoting diversity to students (4 votes)

  • At MSU Fridays—sample classes and list resources for diversity
  • Grow Voice Center and provide space

**Develop and Review policies and assess effectiveness (4 votes)

**At Faculty/staff/administration orientation—add diversity discussions (2 votes)

**Campus community connection—diverse staff recruited from the area (1 vote)

Other ideas listed, but not receiving votes:

**Continue/add speakers—staff/students/faculty/administration. Promote culture of professional development

**Create functional clearinghouse for diversity groups—diversity mapping and reporting structure

**Increase understanding that we work for all forms of diversity (very explicit)—more measurable activities

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