March 26-April 8, 2004
Vol. 34, Issue 6
Back Issues
Someone else’s shoes
Fraser answers call
Research week showcases students’ work
Headlines @ U.Va.
Conference to examine where the arts belong
Ayers wins Bancroft Prize
Davis Parker’s Magnum Opus
Move over, Sigmund
Emily Couric’s political papers now part of U.Va. library collection
‘Telling Moments’ project aids high school Spanish teachers
Expert to discuss new findings on equity in higher education
Students, employees give back to community

Fraser answers the call

Gertrude Fraser By Charlotte Crystal

Gertrude Fraser attended a conference in California last summer for women of color in academic leadership. It was a small group of about three dozen women — African-American, Asian-American, Native-American — who held jobs ranging from department chairs and deans to provosts and university presidents. For several days, the women discussed institutional leadership and the ways in which their roles as path-breakers shaped their views of leadership.

“I began to think in a new way about administration and organizational development as requiring critical thinking and the kinds of approaches I had developed as a scholar,” said Fraser, then a program officer with the Ford Foundation who was on leave as associate professor of anthropology at U.Va.

In January, Fraser was appointed to a five-year term as the University’s vice provost for faculty advancement.

“Since coming [to the provost’s office], I’ve been impressed with how deeply committed people here are and how deeply interesting they are intellectually, in how they think through solutions to problems, both short term and long term.”

Fraser oversees the University’s efforts to recruit and retain, promote and grant tenure to qualified women and men from underrepresented groups. She also helps with the broad, academic tasks of the Office of the Vice President and Provost.

In promoting faculty diversity, Fraser acts as liaison among the University’s various schools. She hopes to share innovative approaches to hiring and coping with the needs of faculty spouses.

She also plans to encourage departments to consider flexible approaches to hiring, such as deferring an attractive candidate for a year to enable her to complete a post-doctoral year somewhere else; or, hiring someone with the understanding that he will be able to leave for a post-doc within a few years.

“When departments and schools look at hires, they’re looking at how a particular individual fits into their department,” Fraser said. “My job is to look at the curricular and scholarly issues going forward: How does this faculty member fit into the University’s broader goals and vision of its future? I also help keep departments apprised of national trends in faculty recruitment and retention.”

Fraser is not only interested in increasing the number of women and minority faculty in departments where they are underrepresented. She is also deeply interested in professional development for faculty, in creating a mentoring program that would benefit faculty across the ranks and throughout their careers, and in offering leadership training for faculty who have been asked to fill new roles.

She expects to help the University wrestle with the persistent challenge of spousal employment, noting the issue is likely to increase in importance as the University grows in size and ambition. “Charlottesville is an active town, but people see it’s still a small town when they come to visit,” she said.

Fraser sees three priorities: increasing the number of women and minority faculty, particularly in the sciences; creating and institutionalizing programs of mentoring for faculty; and retaining minority faculty.

“If we could make progress in those areas, I’d be proud of that,” she said.


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of the University of Virginia

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