Campus News Society & Culture

President and Provost launch Women’s Leadership Initiative

Athens, Ga. – In the latest in a series of efforts to foster gender equity at the University of Georgia, President Jere W. Morehead and Provost Pamela Whitten have launched an initiative to enhance the representation of women in leadership roles on campus.

The Women’s Leadership Initiative will address issues such as recruitment and hiring, career development, work-life balance and leadership development.

“Improving gender equity in higher education leadership is an issue of national concern,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “At the University of Georgia, we are striving to be part of the solution to this issue by creating a campus environment that supports women in their preparation for critical leadership positions.”

The initiative will be supported initially by a 10-member planning committee, and a larger implementation committee will be formed at a later date. Whitten invites faculty and staff to share their ideas by contacting her at

“Every member of the university community should experience an environment that allows them to achieve their full potential,” Whitten said. “To that end, the Women’s Leadership Initiative Planning Committee and I will take an unvarnished look at barriers to diversity in campus leadership positions and spearhead efforts to advance gender equity at the University of Georgia.”

Members of the Women’s Leadership Initiative Planning Committee are:
Meg Amstutz, associate provost for academic programs.
T.W. Cauthen, assistant vice president for academic, campus, and community partnerships in the Division of Student Affairs.
Michelle Garfield-Cook, associate provost for institutional diversity.
Sarah Covert, interim director of faculty affairs and professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
Maritza Soto Keen, senior public service associate in the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.
Stefanie Lindquist, dean of the School of Public and International Affairs.
Kathy Pharr, chief of staff for President Morehead.
Michael Raeber, executive director of legal affairs.
Kecia Thomas, professor of psychology and associate dean for faculty leadership development and diversity in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Lindsey Van Note, senior manager for special projects at in UGA Human Resources.

In the past year, the university has implemented a series of initiatives that aim to ensure that women on campus experience a supportive environment within which to learn and work.

Shortly after Whitten joined UGA as provost in spring 2014, she expanded the mission of the Office of Institutional Diversity to include women’s issues. OID has launched several key data-gathering initiatives, including a gender equity study and a campus climate survey that will address issues associated with race, ethnicity and gender.

In fall semester, the president and provost launched a three-pronged Women’s Resources Initiative to enhance awareness of the resources available to women and to look for ways to improve programs and services. The Women’s Resources web portal ( places information about women’s services, organizations, programs and events in a single location, and Chris Linder, an assistant professor in the College of Education whose research involves women and gender issues, serves as the central point of contact for students, faculty and staff with regard to women’s resources. Linder also chairs the newly formed Women’s Resources Coordinating Committee, which includes faculty, staff and student representatives and is charged with gathering feedback from the campus community and recommending ways to enhance the visibility of resources for women at UGA. The third and final component of the initiative is expanded programming, such as bystander intervention training and participation in the national “It’s On Us” campaign to end sexual assault on college campuses.

To broaden the pipeline of potential leaders and to support existing leaders, Whitten has launched a series of leadership development programs. New Administrators Training is offered annually in fall semester, and Current Administrators Training is offered each spring. Future Leaders Workshops offer information to faculty interested in exploring leadership roles in higher education.

“Gender inequities in higher education and elsewhere are deep-rooted and complex, and I don’t anticipate easy answers or quick solutions,” Whitten emphasized. “But I am confident that a concerted and sustained effort can move this institution toward greater diversity and inclusion for the benefit of the entire campus community.”