Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity
The Department of Physics and Astronomy strives to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for its faculty, staff, and students. This page describes the principles the department seeks to advance, gives resources for department members, and describes activities carried out in the department.
To contact the department about anything related
to diversity, equity, and inclusivity, please email us at physicsDEI@mail.wvu.edu.
The following are definitions of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity embraced by the WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy (from IndependentSector.org):
Diversity: all the ways in which people differ; often used in reference to race, ethnicity, and gender, but also includes age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. Perhaps also: diversity of thought: ideas, perspectives, and values.
Equity: fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.
Inclusion: act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. It’s important to note that while an inclusive group is by definition diverse, a diverse group isn’t always inclusive. Increasingly, recognition of unconscious or ‘implicit bias’ helps organizations to be deliberate about addressing issues of inclusivity.
The department seeks to carry out its educational, research, and service missions in support of the WVU land-grant mission in a manner consistent with the goals of fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment in all aspects of department life.
What do I need to know if I have a DEI/Title IX concern or issue?
- Most importantly, help is available to you. After reading this section, please see the
section below for a number of options for obtaining help.
If you would like to talk to someone about your concern or issue, note that everyone in the department is a “mandatory reporter.” This means that if anyone sees or comes to know about something that is a violation of the university’s Title IX policy, that person is required to file a report with the WVU Title IX office.
- This means that if your issue is about a Title IX violation and you talk to someone about it, they are required to file a report. If this is not something you want, you have options.
- There are people to talk to outside the department that are not mandatory reporters (see the next section).
- You can talk to someone in the department knowing they have to file a report. Once the report is filed, you can choose to pursue an investigation or not – you are not required to pursue a Title IX investigation just because a report is filed.
Further reading – The WVU Title IX and Office of Equity Assurance; List of WVU Policies on Equity.
Who do I talk to or what can I do if I have a DEI/Title IX concern or issue?
If your concern or issue is about a violation of Title IX policies, you can File a Title IX Report
- There are other ways to report important issues; see the University Police Department website for reporting sexual assault, threats, hazing, student concerns, and child abuse.
- There is also a Morgantown community non-profit organization (not WVU-related) that helps victims of rape and domestic violence: Rape & Domestic Violence Information Center.
- You can talk to people in the department (note, everyone in the department is a “mandatory reporter”; see previous section):
- A trusted friend or colleague
- Your adviser/supervisor/instructor/TA
- The department chair
- Anyone on the DEI committee
- Options for people outside of the department:
- Anyone – You can call the Anonymous WVU Title IX help line at 304-906-9930. The on-call Title IX professional that you will talk to is not a mandatory reporter.
- Anyone – You can contact the WVU LGBTQ+ Center. They are not mandatory reporters.
- Anyone – You can contact the WVU Office of Accessibility if your concern/issue is related to a disability.
- Anyone - You can contact the WVU Mediation Program, a free, confidential, structured process that offers trained mediators to help clarify conflicts, identify solutions and create a course of action. For mediation assistance contact William Rhee at William.Rhee@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-7081.
- If you are a faculty member – There is a faculty ombudsperson. The email address is Faculty_Ombudsperson@mail.wvu.edu. For information about what they do, see https://facultyombudsperson.wvu.edu/.
- If you are a faculty member or staff member – You may contact the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) to talk to a mental health professional for free.
- If you are a classified staff member – You can contact the Staff Council at email@example.com.
- If you are a graduate student – You can contact the WVU Program Director for Graduate Student Success – Professional Development, Events, and Communication. Currently, this is Dr. Betty Mei, Bmei@wvu.edu, 304-293-7173.
- If you are an undergraduate student or a graduate student – You can contact the Carruth Center by email or phone, or through the WVU Crisis Text Line by texting “WVU” to 741741.
There are accommodations available to students for test taking. Services that Office of Accessibility Services (OAS) (304-293-6700, Room B20 in Stewart Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org) can provide include:
- Getting a separate room for exams (to free you from distractions of others)
- Periodic breaks during exams
- Extra time (usually time and a half)
- An earlier exam time (in the morning instead of in the afternoon, pending availability of proctors)
To obtain these accommodations, you must have a proper documentation for a disability (anxiety, panic attacks, etc.) from a professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, family doctor, etc.). To apply for accommodations, go to the OAS academic website, complete the online application, submit the proper documentation, and meet with OAS to discuss your accommodations.
The following are programs through WVU that may be relevant to members of the department:
- WVU Safety & Wellness: Fostering an Inclusive Community
- WVU LGBTQ+ Center
- WVU Center for Veteran, Military and Family Programs
- WVU International Students and Scholars Services
- WVU Association for Women in Science
- WVU Student Diversity Ambassadors program
- WVU Parental Leave Program
- WVU Flexible Work Arrangements
- WVU First-Generation Initiatives
The following activities within the department are carried out in support of diversity, equity, and inclusivity:
The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy is an American Physical Society Bridge Program Member Institution
The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy is a member of the APS-IDEA Network
The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy has a “Women in Physics” Listserv
The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy has a monthly “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity” journal club; details follow
The WVU Physics Education Research (PER) faculty are members of the NSF INCLUDES Alliance First 2 Network and conduct research on diversity in STEM. See also:
Hosts planetarium shows for Black History Month and WVU’s Diversity Week centered around the book/movie Hidden Figures . (This true story of African American scientists making crucial contributions to NASA missions has an interesting connection to WVU – Katherine Johnson helped break the color barrier as a student at WVU and Dorothy Vaughn went to elementary school at a building across from WVU.)
There is a departmental leave policy for students (the “alternate workload plan”) in the Graduate Student Handbook.
The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy has a standing “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity” committee. Responsibilities and activities include:
- Organizes Safe Zone training (nearly 1/4 of department faculty are Safe Zone trained)
- Sends monthly emails to the department about DEI and liaises with departmental committees
- Organizes annual departmental Title IX trainings
- Carries out an annual department climate survey (see below for details)
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Journal Club
The DEI Journal Club was started in January 2019 by two faculty and a graduate student Diversity Ambassador. Anyone from the department can volunteer to choose an article and lead discussion. The journal club strives to provide a platform for regularly discussing DEI ideas and issues and keeping up to date on the relevant literature.
Dates of DEI Journal Club meetings and the journal articles discussed will be posted here.
Department Climate Survey
The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee is charged with carrying out departmental climate surveys. The purpose of the survey is to obtain longitudinal data to assess the culture in the department and obtain information to enact effective policies to improve DEI in the department. The first survey was done in Spring of 2019. Reports from the climate surveys are linked here: