On the afternoon of March 24, students, professors, administrators and guests took part in celebrating the five-year anniversary of the ADVANCE Rising Tide Center at the University of Maine. Meeting in the Buchanan Alumni House, professors, administrators and guest lecturers spoke of the success and meaningfulness of the center, as well as its future on campus.
“For more than five years, the ADVANCE Rising Tide Center has sought to implement strategic initiatives designed to facilitate institutional change at UMaine,” reads the beginning of the the center’s mission statement. It continues by stating that the center has “initiate[d] dialogue around gender equity” as well as creating a supportive campus climate with “a rising tide that has lifted all boats.”
The celebration started with a welcoming remark from UMaine President Dr. Susan Hunter. As UMaine’s first woman president, Hunter was able to not only speak of the importance of gender equity in faculty at the school, but the Rising Tide Center’s success in promoting gender equity. Hunter also said that her educational background as a scientist impacted her belief in the importance of the center’s role in promoting gender equity, specifically in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-related fields of study. This component is important as the center was first created using a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
After President Hunter spoke, UMaine Provost Jeffrey Hecker spoke about the bright future. Though he said that the success of the Center’s should be celebrated, he felt as if the celebration “should not be a retirement party”, but a “transition party.” Provost Hecker followed this with announcing that the Rising Tide Center is transitioning from a NSF-funded project to a “fully base-budgeted funded university center. He also announced that immediately after the celebration he was going to be interviewing a possible future director. Provost Hecker was hoping to be able to give “good news” as soon as he could.
The keynote speaker of the event was Dr. Meredith Hastings. Hastings is an associate professor in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Brown University. Hastings also co-founded the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) in 2002, “with the goal of connecting women in Earth Sciences to develop their careers, build community, facilitate professional collaborations and provide mentoring and support,” according to Dr. Amy Blackstone, who introduced Hastings. Blackstone is also the director of the Rising Tide Center here at UMaine.
Hastings, who was named one of Insight Into Diversity’s 100 Most Inspiring Women in STEM, lectured about her research project “From Ice Cores to Cities to Oceans: Fingerprinting Reactive Nitrogen Sources and Chemistry.”
“Dr. Hastings’ research draws on principles from varied disciplines, bringing a novel set of tools to the challenge of the understanding the impacts of humans on the composition of the atmosphere, the biosphere, and climate,” according to the brochure that was provided to guests at the celebration.
To close the event, Blackstone discussed a few themes that were very apparent throughout all the talks that the speakers had: celebrating past success, planning for a more successful future and stressing both the value and importance of everyone working together. Like Provost Hecker and President Hunter before her, Blackstone said that the Rising Tide Center will need the unity of the UMaine campus it has had in the past to continue gender equity discussions on campus, saying that she want to see more “women faculty [that] want to come here and more importantly, stay.”