The Return of the Michigan Players: Thursday, April 7

April 7, 2016
Louise Slaughter Hall (78), Rooms 2210/2220
Two Performances: 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM & 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

The Michigan Players are again visiting RIT this time to perform their acclaimed production of The Fence which focuses on topics and situations experienced by faculty and academic administrators in the areas of promotion, tenure, and institutional climate. In December 2014, the Players visited RIT on Reading Day performing Navigating Departmental Politics for a full house who attended despite inclement weather. AdvanceRIT will again host this event with several co-sponsors including the Offices of the President, Provost, Strategic Planning & Special Initiatives, and the Division of Diversity and Inclusion.  A touring theatre company housed in the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) at the University of Michigan, the CRLT Players create research-based performances that examine current issues in higher education.  Using a range of innovative theatrical techniques, the actors’ performances will engage RIT faculty and university administrators in critical reflection, respectful dialogue, and problem solving.

In The Fence, members of a department’s executive committee meet to discuss whether one of their junior colleagues should be awarded tenure. The committee is split, and arguments are made both for and against the candidate. Providing a ‘fly on the wall’ perspective, the sketch gives audience members a chance to observe the ways that unconscious bias can affect promotion and tenure decisions. Post-show discussion allows audiences to move inside the action and think about ways they might intervene in the meeting they have just seen to create a more equitable process. 

The Players have performed at universities and conferences around the nation, including Montana State University and Purdue University. Performances of The Fence received very positive reviews including:

  • “This presentation and discussion encouraged me to think a lot more about the importance of intervening early in discussions to focus and frame the issues that should (and should not) be included in a meeting.”
  • “These types of interactions are much more effective than formal presentations. I will never forget it!”
  • “Great format to make you think of big impact of small things.”
  • “Amazingly effective in clarifying and emphasizing key issues of faculty interactions.”

During their 2014 performance of “Navigating Department Politics,” the Players focused on how gender, rank, ethnicity, and other aspects of power relations influence the climate and faculty morale. A trained facilitator led a guided discussion with the 130 participants, engaging them in critical reflection, respectful dialogue, and problem solving. Over 90 percent of attendees said they would recommend this session to their colleagues and below are sample reviews from RIT participants:

  • “Fantastic eye opening experience.”
  • “Loved the role-play- it became clear what the issues were.”
  • “Using vignettes was a great safe way to explore these topics.”
  • “Liked the performance, safe way to discuss issues/challenges.”

For more information, please contact the AdvanceRIT office at

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AdvanceRIT Connect Grants

AdvanceRIT is excited to announce the third round of Connect Grants which are offered annually to pre-tenured and tenured faculty through funding from AdvanceRIT and the Office of the Provost with advisory support from The Wallace Center’s Faculty Career Development Services, the Division of Diversity and Inclusion, and Sponsored Research Services. Connect Grants drive discovery and learning within an environment that supports the development of project proposals and the process of peer review. These mini-grants encourage leadership and career development, mentoring, networking and research collaboration, while enhancing and advancing the university’s multifaceted initiatives and scholarship infrastructure.  Over the first two grant rounds, successfully funded grant proposals have supported one or more of the AdvanceRIT program goals including broadening faculty opportunities, enhancing plans of work associated with tenure and promotion preparation, and advancing overall career progression and leadership development.  In addition, funded grants have supported creative efforts to guide and manage faculty through various career stages to facilitate institutional transformation aligned with the AdvanceRIT program goals.  During the current third round, the Connect Grants program offers a funding pool of approximately $65K with the anticipated number of awards dependent upon the review and evaluation of the proposals by a faculty peer review process in relation to the selection criteria.  A formal RFP including an on-line application process will launch in late February with the award period beginning June 1, 2016.

To learn more about this year's Connect Grants recipients , please visit

NSF ADVANCE Advocates & Allies:

Engaging Male Colleagues in Institutional Transformation for the Advancement of Women Faculty

RIT was recently awarded funding by NSF to launch an Advocates & Allies program in collaboration with North Dakota State University (NDSU) under the ADVANCE PLAN-D program.  Betsy Dell is the RIT PI for this funded effort (NSF ADVANCE Plan D 1500604). The Advocates & Allies project is based on an innovative approach designed to involve faculty men intentionally in the transformation of departmental cultures and practices at North Dakota State University.  NDSU is leading the implementation of this program at four partner schools, including RIT, Ohio State University, University of Wyoming, and University of North Texas. This initiative complements efforts underway through the successful NSF AdvanceRIT project currently in its third year of funding. 

The goals of Advocates and Allies programs are to: (1) educate male faculty about gender inequity in academia; (2) introduce male faculty to strategies for initiating positive change in their departments and colleges; and (3) build a supportive network of male Advocates and Allies for all faculty. Advocates recruit and train other male faculty as Allies, and they work together to increase their own knowledge about gender equity topics, such as unconscious bias.  Advocates and Allies are instrumental in gaining institution-wide support for policies and practices that further the goal of gender equity. The Advocates and Allies program is a vital mechanism for achieving a climate supportive of gender diverse faculty. 

RIT will host the first Advocates & Allies training session on Thursday, March 3rd with guest facilitators from NDSU and University of Wyoming.  Registration for this session is available through the Wallace Center.  For more information, please contact Betsy Dell at or Rob Garrick, Advocate coordinator,

To learn more about research that AdvanceRIT has done on the subject of unconscious bias, please visit

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Trudy Suggs Visit

Trudy Suggs, founder of T.S. Writing Services, will visit RIT in March.  She will be on campus as the RIT American Sign Language (ASL) Lecture Series presenter on March 15th, and is being co-sponsored by the AdvanceRIT Connectivity Series (NSF Grant No. 1209115), American Sign Language and Interpreting Education (ASLIE), and Department of Access Services (DAS). She will be conducting workshops on Deaf Disempowerment, Grant Writing, and Interpreter Support.  A well-known Deaf advocate, Ms. Suggs has served as secretary of the National Associate of the Deaf, Chairwoman of the Illinois Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Caucus, and has been recognized by the state of Minnesota as the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award recipient.

For more information, please contact Annemarie Ross at  To learn more about the AdvanceRIT ongoing research efforts and programming focused on Deaf/Hard of Hearing women faculty visit