An Update Given by Dean Litt at AADC Alumnae Council, November 2017

Dean Jacquelyn Litt College Update to the AADC Fall Alumnae Council– Nov 7, 2017


Message delivered by Associate Dean Ellen Lieberman


I regret missing today’s Alumnae meeting but I am visiting my son for his 20th birthday up in Rhode Island.  I wish you all a wonderful day.  Dean Lieberman will provide an update on the College.


I was pleased to speak with the AADC Board at its meeting last month.  I expressed my appreciation for the work of the organization on behalf of our alumnae.  Now, that over a year has passed since we signed the mediation agreement, we have had time to align with our new roles, and ideally, have had time to heal the wounds that emerged during a challenging period in our history. As I told the AADC Board, and as I have mentioned in Alumnae Council meetings in the past, it is my sincere hope that our organizations can work to create a culture of collaboration and mutual support.


This academic year is off to a busy and exciting start and the importance of a women’s education continues to validate the work that we do at Douglass. Consistent with prior years, we welcomed 618 incoming students of all ages!  In addition, 80 Rutgers students joined Douglass over the summer.  Douglass now has the highest enrollment at 2,568 students. These are record numbers!  This high enrollment shows that students continue to value women’s education as part of their overall Rutgers experience and it underscores the continued importance of Douglass.


This year we have added some very talented new staff to Douglass.  Dr. Elizabeth Gunn is the new Assistant Dean of Academic Programs.  Dr. Gunn was faculty at Morgan State in Maryland.  Dr. Gunn oversees the Douglass course, the Global Village and the Douglass program for Honors College students. Also new this year to Douglass is Tasia Milton who is the Director for the Douglass Course, the Douglass Honors Program, and the Innovator-in-Residence Program has also joined the Office of Academic Programs.  Tasia came from the Rutgers University Department of English where she is an advanced doctoral student who studies contemporary African American literature. Additionally, Michael Cummings, a graduate student in Labor Relations, joins the Academic Programs as the new graduate student helping to coordinate the activities in the Global Village.


As we enter our 100th year of providing women with a high-quality education, we have some new programs.  But, what does not change is our mission of providing an intellectual community for women that inspires them to learn, lead, and live with conviction, creativity, and critical thinking. 


Some new programs celebrating the college’s centennial this year include the following:


Through a newly funded annual lecture, Douglass held the inaugural STEM lecture by speaker Dr. Kathy Taylor, an alumna who was instrumental in the development of the catalytic convertible for automobiles.  The lecture capped off the annual poster session for Project SUPER research. The Project SUPER Research Symposium showcased the diverse research projects of 60 Douglass women in STEM.  There were over 250 attendees for the poster session and the Centennial speaker that evening.


Dr. Susan Martin, alumna and expert in immigration and refugee issues is this year’s Laurie Chair scholar. She is leading a course for Douglass students, and was in residence at Douglass in October. She will be back throughout next semester and for a week in April. Dr. Martin delivered a lecture titled “Refugee and Displaced Women” as a Global Village plenary as part of the Centennial celebration. The students in Dr. Martin’s class traveled with her to the United Nation in New York City, and we will be pleased to receive Dr. Martin again on our campus.


In the Douglass Course, Knowledge and Power, the readings, engaging plenaries, and dynamic course work continues. For example, the October plenary was titled “From Japanese Internment to Douglass,” and was led by Reiko Fukuyama Ohye (‘56) in collaboration with Assistant Professor Andrew Urban of the Rutgers University American Studies Department.


The BOLD center continues to provide mentoring and personalized attention to career and professional development.  This year’s Career Conference in October was a success with key note speaker, Heather Cabot, former news anchor and now author of Geek Girls Rising.

The conference offered many breakout sessions and opportunities for students to network with each other and professionals.


This year’s Global Village includes nine themed houses such as Medicine, Public Health, Human Rights, Spanish, Africana, Business, Creativity and more. All houses engage in community service and cultural excursion to New York City, Philadelphia, and other exciting locations around the area in order to attend public lectures, visit museums, and attend art exhibits.


The Douglass Honors College community enters its third year and has doubled since inception. Now at 83 first year students, for all three years the total is 216 Honors College women enrolled in Douglass. This represents an increase of approximately 25% annually from each year over the past 2 academic years.


Our Computer Science Living-Learning Community welcomed the second cohort of 20 first year women who have shown a strong interest in majoring in computer science.


The Reilly Douglass Engineering Living-Learning community welcomed its 6th cohort, adding 32 women in Engineering to the ever-growing community of 128 current engineering women with a retention rate of approximately 97%.


Do you remember Katherine, who was part of the first cohort of Douglass engineering students in the community?  She majored in Biomedical Engineering.  Katherine participated in Project SUPER and as a student, she led a research team at the University of Nevada to create a prosthesis for a 4-year-old girl born with barely developed fingers on her right hand.  Using 3D technology the team created an artificial hand.  And now….an update….


Well, that little girl, Hailey Dawson, is now 7 years old and her dream is to throw the first pitch at every Major League Baseball park.  Because of Katherine’s vision and dedication, Hailey has thrown the opening pitch at Nationals Park and Camden Yards.  And, she has thrown the first pitch at the World Series this year.


This winter, two programs will be running during the winter session:


This will be the second year of the Innovator-in-Residence Program.  NYC-based artist Julia Buntaine will return to teach an immersive, two-week course based in New York City (NYC) in January. This unique course again introduces about 24 students to hands-on, practical applications of the arts as they relate to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. After visiting museums, lectures, and workshops in New York City, students return to campus to present a showcase of their own work in the spring semester. Julia also led a Douglass Course plenary in October.


Also, in January 2018, 16 DRC women who reside in the Global Village’s Public Health House will travel for international service learning to the Dominican Republic. They will engage in service learning during the day and attend scholarly lectures in the evenings. We are intentionally selecting the Dominican Republic to continue the synergy between DRC and the local community in the Bateyes (sugar cane fields). By repeating this trip a third time, the DRC presence lends continuity to the community service project. Students will travel to Monte Coca to continue work on that village’s house-building project where volunteers build one house at a time for local families. Last year, our students built a home for a single mother and her family, from the dirt floor up. We expect that this year will be equally rewarding.


These are just some of the highlights of what is happening, today, at the college.  I hope to see all of you at our centennial celebrations throughout the year.  One of the special events is Yule Log on December 3rd at 4:45pm in Voorhees Chapel.  This year alumna Judith Shatin, nationally recognized composer and sound artist will premiere a special arrangement created for Yule Log to celebrate Douglass’ Centennial year. She is delighted be able to contribute this composition on such a special occasion.  


It is with the support, mentorship, and encouragement of alumnae that Douglass students succeed today. They value your insight, your advice, your passion for Douglass, and your belief in their success.  Douglass women today are inspired to engage and be engaging, to learn and to teach, to form a sisterhood that creates a life-long bond of like-minded women who inspire each other to follow their dreams, and to live with and learn from women all over the world.  Douglass women today are inspired by Douglass women of all generations.


Thank you.