This year, Dr. Kelly Kapic and Christiana Fitzpatrick are co-chairing a new committee formed to evaluate leadership opportunities for the female faculty and staff at Covenant and to work towards getting more women in leadership roles. By the end of the school year, the committee will submit their recommendations to the president, cabinet, and faculty of Covenant College.
Every three years Covenant formulates a Strategic Plan designed to improve the college. Certain aspects of that Strategic Plan are prioritized each year, and getting more women in leadership roles was one of this year’s priorities.
In addition to Kapic and Fitzpatrick, the committee includes Jeff Sandhoff, vice president of Advancement; Amy Smith, Manager of Alumni Engagement; Evan Marbury, RD of Carter; Dr. Gwen Macallister, Associate Professor of English; and Janet Hulsey, Director of Academic Support.
So far the committee is only in the information gathering stage. They have looked at studies on women in leadership done by similar institutions, such as Wheaton and Gordon College, and have sent out a survey to women faculty and staff asking if they felt like they have open paths to leadership available to them. Soon, they will send out another survey including men in order to have a baseline comparison.
“We would like to see women’s gifts and leadership abilities valued, as well as clear pathways to leadership opportunities and mentoring into those roles,” said Fitzpatrick.
This committee is not focused on getting women on the Board of Trustees for Covenant College, because that is a bylaw change on which the PCA General Assembly must vote. There is a separate committee comprised of leadership from the PCA and its agencies, including Covenant, that is working on a proposal to allow board members that are not elders in the PCA. They plan to utilize other tests of doctrine that would allow orthodox men and women to join their boards.
Covenant College and this committee fully affirm the PCA’s position on the roles of men and women in the home and church, but want to make sure this is not getting confused with the role of women in the workplace. Currently, there are only three female Covenant employees supervising male faculty and staff. Although this number is not legislated and has gone up and down over the years, the committee wants to gather information that may shed light on why this number is so low.
According to Fitzpatrick, the committee recognizes that not all women want to be in leadership roles and supports the women who choose to step away from work to raise children. However, the committee is also aware of the various studies show that decisions made by heterogeneous groups, while they may feel more uncertain, tend to be better than ones made by homogeneous groups.
The committee feels that a good meeting is not one where there is no disagreement, but where there is insightful pushback. Fitzpatrick affirmed that the College recognizes the need for greater racial, cultural, and gender diversity to lend different viewpoints that give the College a more well rounded culture of leadership.
Although Fitzpatrick does not feel that anyone at Covenant would be opposed to women using their God given gifts as fully as possible, she wants to make sure there are not invisible, underlying cultural barriers preventing this from happening.