Provost’s steering committee announced for initiative on status of women

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Susan R. Wente (Vanderbilt University)

Political science professor Cindy Kam will lead a new provost-appointed steering committee to guide actions and areas for study for an initiative focusing on women students, faculty and postdocs—which was announced earlier this semester by Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente.

“This is an important opportunity to look closely at our practices, our culture and our support structure for the broad array of women faculty, students and postdoctoral scholars across the university’s academic affairs units,” Wente said. “At a time when national attention has focused on the experience of gender inequalities in the workplace, and in society more generally, Vanderbilt should be leading the way with progressive and innovative solutions so that everyone can succeed no matter what gender they identify with.”

The charge to the committee includes partnering with Vice Chancellors James Page and Eric Kopstain on areas of common efforts for staff.

The steering committee members are:

  • political scientist Cindy Kam (Vanderbilt University)

    Cindy Kam, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Political Science, College of Arts and Science, chair;

Representatives from university shared governance entities

  • Mary Lauren Benton, graduate student in biomedical informatics, School of Medicine, and president of the Graduate Student Association;
  • Victoria Greene, Stevenson Professor of Physics, Arts and Science, and faculty senate chair;
  • Ralph Hazlewood, postdoctoral scholar in ophthalmology; School of Medicine; and president of the Postdoctoral Fellow Association;
  • John McLean, Stevenson Professor of Chemistry, Arts and Science, and faculty senate chair-elect;
  • Phillis Doremus, undergraduate student and Vanderbilt Student Government chief of staff;

School/college representatives

  • Heather Conner, professor of piano and Chancellor’s Chair of Precollege Piano, Blair School of Music;
  • Jennifer Escalas, associate professor of marketing, Owen Graduate School of Management;
  • Catherine Gavin Loss, associate professor of the practice of leadership, policy and organizations, Peabody College of education and human development;
  • Tina Iverson, professor of biochemistry and pharmacology, School of Medicine;
  • Melanie Lutenbacher, associate professor of nursing, School of Nursing;
  • Terry Maroney, professor of law, Vanderbilt Law School;
  • Claire McCabe, associate dean for the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair, School of Engineering;
  • Allison Schachter, associate professor of English and Jewish studies, Arts and Science;
  • Phillis Sheppard, associate professor of religion, psychology and culture, Divinity School;


  • Amy Booth, professor of psychology and human development; Peabody College of education and human development;
  • Virginia Moore, associate professor of nursing and director of Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner specialty, School of Nursing;
  • Ron Schrimpf, Orrin H. Ingram Professor of Engineering, School of Engineering;
  • Isaac West, associate professor of communication studies, Arts and Science;


  • Rory Dicker, director, Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center;
  • Tracey George, interim vice provost for faculty affairs and Charles B. Cox III and Lucy D. Cox Family Chair in Law and Liberty, Law School;
  • Ifeoma Nwankwo, associate provost for strategic initiatives and partnerships, and associate professor of English, Arts and Science;
  • Melissa Thomas-Hunt, vice provost for inclusive excellence; professor of management, Owen Graduate School of Management.

“Members of the steering committee bring a diverse set of perspectives representing the interests of faculty, postdoctoral associates and students,” Kam said. “We share a stalwart commitment to this important collaborative work that will identify constructive pathways for enhancing gender equality at Vanderbilt.”

Feedback is currently being solicited to inform the steering committee’s actions and the ongoing planning process for the provost’s initiative. Please directly submit ideas using this form. Comments may be shared anonymously.