“While outcomes regarding numbers are important, the emphasis is on ‘changing hearts and minds.’ If the first happens, the numbers will follow.”
— Renee Baker, executive director, RIT’s Office of Faculty Recruitment and Retention
Laura Tubbs, professor and associate dean in the College of Science at Rochester Institute of Technology, was presented the 2014 Changing Hearts and Minds Award, given annually to recognize efforts made toward furthering RIT’s overall commitment to diversity, specifically in the area of enhancing diversity among the faculty ranks.
This is the second time RIT’s College of Science and one of its faculty or administrative leaders was recognized for its diversity efforts. The award, sponsored by RIT’s Office of the Provost and the Office of Faculty Recruitment and Retention, was given during the annual Future Faculty Career Exploration Program, Sept. 18-21.
Tubbs was instrumental in the College of Science’s recruiting and hiring efforts this past year that saw 28 percent of their hires being African American, Latino American or Native American (AALANA) and 21 percent were female.
“We have worked hard to ensure that we were looking at very diverse pools of faculty candidates, that we were evaluating every candidate fairly and equitably, and I think it has paid off for us,” said Tubbs. “Some years you are more successful, and others less so, but over time and with consistent effort, I think we have been able to create some real change in terms of the diversity of our faculty.”
Tubbs, who was both surprised and appreciative of the recognition, has been at RIT as a faculty member, researcher and administrator for 32 years. In her role as associate dean, she works closely with the college’s faculty search committees, and noted the positive impact diverse faculty will have on students as well as the continued growth of the college.
“Students want to be able to see themselves as scientists and as faculty members, and so our female students, our students of color, will have even more opportunities to see themselves in these new faculty,” she said. “We also have the benefit of more diverse faculty bringing in new ideas, new perspectives to bear on the problems that we want to address—it’s just so exciting to me.”
A monetary award of $2,500 is given to the college to be used to continue recruitment and retention initiatives. Tubbs will also receive $500 for her role in supporting hiring program efforts within the college.
In the College of Science, Tubbs also serves on the dean’s curriculum committee and on the Women in Science advisory board. She oversees the development, delivery and assessment of curricula of foundation and general education courses and undergraduate programs. She has been a long time advocate for diversity serving as student ombudsperson for five and a half years, participating in the creation of the Center for Women and Gender on campus, and for the past several years, serving on its Advisory Board.
A professor of chemistry, Tubbs received her master’s and doctoral degrees in chemistry from the University of Rochester. Her scientific research has included work on the use of naturally occurring radioisotopes for dating and tracing purposes, and the application of water-soluble polymers in drug delivery systems. She was co-director of the RIT Proteomics Laboratory with Professor Paul Craig until she became associate dean in 2010. During her career at RIT, Tubbs has served several terms on the Academic Senate, including a term as secretary on the executive committee
In addition to her academic research, Tubbs has a consulting relationship with Cytologics Inc. and has consulted in the past for Eastman Kodak Co. and Rochester Products. She has also contributed to research focused on teaching. Tubbs was a principal investigator on Project EDGE, funded by the National Science Foundation, to explore teaching techniques to address the classroom climate for women in the sciences at the college and high school level.