Carnegie Mellon University

February 4, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

At Carnegie Mellon, we are committed to fostering a culture of inclusivity, where community members from diverse backgrounds can work together and share their unique experiences. During recent university forums conducted throughout 2018, a number of women and underrepresented faculty expressed concerns about an inconsistency with regards to the varying levels of participation in service work.

In general, these concerns stem from an understanding that in many cases, women and underrepresented faculty have been encouraged to join various committees with the good intention of reflecting a diverse set of ideas and experiences. However, such intentions can result in an overly high burden of committee activity for some faculty. Simultaneously, faculty also describe seeing a disproportionately low number of women and underrepresented faculty as members in prestigious, highly visible or influential opportunities at Carnegie Mellon.

To begin addressing this, Kathryn Roeder, Vice Provost for Faculty (VPF), in consultation with the Faculty Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Development (FCDID), developed two sets of guidelines, collectively referred to as “To Serve and to Shine.” These guidelines not only ensure that women and underrepresented faculty are not burdened with required participation in certain committees, but also allow for increased opportunities for these same faculty to engage in high-level opportunities on campus. Moreover, it ensures that our diverse community sees people like themselves represented in prestigious settings.

Both sets of guidelines, which are fully supported by me and the college deans, are summarized here:

Guidelines for INcreasing DIverse CandidATes for OppoRtunities (INDICATOR) 

  • Objective: To design a program to increase the diversity of candidates considered for highly visible and prestigious committee work and other professional opportunities that reflect CMU’s tradition of academic excellence.
  • Nature of Opportunities: The INDICATOR guideline applies to any selection of names for any high-level or influential CMU-related event, activity, or opportunity, such as: selecting speakers at events attended by internal CMU and external community members, selecting nominees for a major university honor, or selecting members of a university- or college-level committee.
  • Hotline for Inquiries: This hotline will be managed by the vice provost for faculty (VPF). Faculty with concerns are encouraged to use the hotline, through which the VPF and other appropriate leadership will intervene. Verified hotline reports will be shared with the provost. Callers can request that the VPF handle their cases confidentially.
  • Annual Reporting: Detailed INDICATOR information will be included in annual reports submitted by college deans to the provost. The VPF will summarize and present aggregate INDICATOR information to the deans at a Deans Council meeting on a regular basis.
  • Timeline: Immediate roll out at all levels from department heads to university leadership.

Guidelines for More Equitable Service Loads

  • Objective: To ensure a more even distribution of service work, particularly for women and underrepresented faculty.
  • Record Keeping: With the Elements software system, committee assignments will be recorded in real time and provided to academic unit leaders in a spreadsheet. Faculty can update and correct errors in their own files.
  • Transparency: Service work details will be available to unit leaders, making it easier for them to assign opportunities evenly and fairly. The VPF will maintain a hotline for inquiries by individual faculty regarding the distribution of service in their areas.
  • Timeline: This guideline will be fully implemented as soon as the Elements database is updated, and administrators and faculty are familiar with its functionality. University leadership will disseminate instructional and reference materials once the database is ready for use. In the meantime, when forming a committee, it is recommended that inquiries be made of candidate members regarding their service load prior to making a request.

The full versions of the “To Serve and to Shine” guidelines can be found on the VPF website,, for your reference. If you have any questions regarding the scope or implementation of these guidelines, contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty at

I appreciate everything that you do to create an engaging and dynamic learning environment at CMU, and hope that you find these guidelines to be a step in the right direction in maintaining a fair and inclusive faculty community that supports our academic mission.


James H. Garrett, Jr.
Thomas Lord Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering