Interim Vice Provost Claudia Douglass is dedicated to the involvement of women in higher education and now has the opportunity to further her involvement in the field.
Douglass has been selected to be a member of the Michigan American Council on Education executive board, replacing former board member and former Vice President of University Communications Renee Walker. Walker resigned in May and was later offered a $140,000 severance package.
“I’m very honored to be appointed to this position,” Douglass said. “Michigan ACE is about strengthening the women’s leadership in higher education, and that is something I’m very committed to and, so, I feel privileged to be a part of the statewide planning to advance higher education.”
Douglass will complete the final 18 months of Walker’s term and said she hopes to be considered for a full three-year term afterward.
Formed in 1978, Michigan ACE Network is represented by its 16-member executive board. Its responsibilities include identifying, developing the leadership of, advancing and supporting the retention of women in higher education throughout the state.
“The executive board is responsible for all programming, including the annual conference, and is the link to the national Office of Women in Higher Education,” Douglass said.
She is a long-time member of Michigan ACE, attending the summer statewide conference as both a participant and presenter during her career. She also provides a support network for women at CMU through speakers and events.
“With a board opening, they asked me if I would apply, and I did and was approved for the position,” Douglass said. “I had to submit my materials to the board, and they discussed them. They knew me pretty well, and I have been involved in Michigan ACE for many years.”
In 2008, she was recognized with the Distinguished Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award by the Michigan ACE Network.
“I was honored to be nominated as the CMU Outstanding Woman of the Year and then surprised that my name was forwarded to the state competition,” Douglass said. “There are many very qualified women on campus who have been outstanding leaders. It was reaffirming to know that I have had an impact and that advancing the careers of women and girls is a noteworthy attribute of my personal and professional portfolio.”
Previous CMU winners include Vice President of Development and External Affairs Kathleen Wilbur in 2010 and Executive Associate Director of Athletics/Sport Administration Marcy Weston in 2012.
Douglass joined CMU’s biology department in 1976 as a professor, eventually taking the position as chair of the department.
She said the number of female faculty members has increased since she arrived, especially in the sciences.
“Now there are many more women in all disciplines and a formal maternity leave policy,” Douglass said. “Many departments and colleges have actively made provisions to mentor female faculty and to develop informal networks that help them manage the challenges of growing families and growing careers.”
She accepts the board position in addition to her work as interim vice provost for academic affairs.
“(The board position) extends my network of colleagues to the other Michigan institutions,” Douglass said. “And I expect that any committee work will be done on my own time. Otherwise, it’ll be no more than half a day each month, which would be a teleconference over lunch.”