By Amy Ferrer, APA Executive Director, and Peggy DesAutels, Site Visit Program Director
Since the report of the site visit to the University of Colorado Boulder went public, there has been quite a bit of discussion about the site visit program, how it works, what its reports are meant to do, and so on. In authoring this post, we’re taking the opportunity, now that the initial fervor over the report has died down to some degree, to reiterate just how important the site visit program (SVP) is for the profession, explain how and why the APA supports it, and begin to look forward to the program’s future.
First and foremost, it must be said that members of SVP teams do an invaluable service to the profession—they have taken ownership of the climate issues in philosophy and are giving of themselves to help departments better understand how their own cultures and climates may be impacting the professional and educational experiences of faculty, students, and communities. The goal of the SVP is simply to help departments improve.
The SVP is based on an established and successful program in physics—and experiences from that program show that it’s an effective methodology for improving departmental climates. In physics departments, SVP visits are a badge of honor. That is how they should be understood in philosophy as well. Departments that are confident that they have a welcoming and inclusive culture should request site visits to assess how well they are achieving their goals; departments with concerns about climate should request site visits to identify concrete steps they can take to improve. A number of departments have had or have scheduled site visits, and we encourage faculty members to advocate for bringing site visit teams to their institutions.
We also want to take this opportunity to clear up some misunderstandings about the relationship between the APA and the site visit program.
The contours of the administrative relationship between the site visit program and the APA do not undermine its value or authority. (In fact, this administrative separation from the APA makes the program stronger by insulating it from undue influence.) And though the APA does not oversee or direct the site visit program, the APA and our Committee on the Status of Women (which founded the site visit program) advise and support the program. As the site visit program is new and innovative and without parallel in the profession or in the APA structure, we at the APA are continuing to consider and discuss ways to strengthen the relationship so that the APA can further assist and support the site visit program going forward.
It should also be said that the site visit program and the APA welcome constructive critiques and suggestions related to the program. Some of the site visit documentation has already been revised to clarify points of confusion that have come up recently, and there will be updates to site visit volunteer training process ahead of the next training conference in spring 2015.
Because we want to hear those constructive critiques and suggestions, we’re opening comments on this post. But please be aware that only comments signed with a real name and valid email address will be accepted, and comments will be carefully moderated—this is not the time or venue to rehash the Colorado site visit or revive destructive attacks on the program or its volunteers. Instead, this is a time to look forward. We—the APA and the SVP—are committed to continuing to innovate and improve, to ensuring that the site visit program will be a prominent fixture in the profession for years to come, for as long as it’s needed.
[Please note: Our appearance on this blog does not constitute an endorsement by the APA of the blog or its content.]