Faculty of Color Mentoring & Advocacy

Mentoring and Advocacy Network at Ithaca College

The mentoring and advocacy network for faculty of color brings together early, mid, and advanced career faculty in a commitment to providing support and advocacy as needed for professional advancement and personal wellbeing while working at Ithaca College. The network includes faculty at different career stages who are committed to supporting others through mutually beneficial mentoring relationships, engaging in supportive conversations, thoughtful advocacy, and facilitating institutional structural changes as needed to ensure that Faculty of Color faculty work in an environment that affirms and supports their professional success and wellbeing. Faculty mentors and advocates in the network have themselves faced experiences that help them to understand some of the challenges faced by faculty of color and look forward to working with colleagues in a range of mentoring relationships within or across disciplines.

Mentors in the network are happy to chat about issues such as preparing for review processes, balancing work and life, handling a hostile work environment, understanding the grievance structure and policies at the college, searching for grants and other resources, handling student statements, or tackling special circumstances faced by international faculty.

We hope the network offers a flexible framework for sharing some of the skills, knowledge, and hard lessons we have acquired for coping with the dilemmas of teaching, scholarship, and service at Ithaca College. Some members of the network have greater experience and strengths in mentoring, others with advocacy and some in both areas. We are all committed to encouraging and facilitating the development of an ombudsman system of support for mediating grievances at the college in a fair manner. Our collaboration allows us to benefit from a rich and growing pool of experiences and skills.

Peyi Soyinka-Airewele (H&S)
Wade Pickren (CFE)
Raj Subramaniam (HSHP)
Sue-Je Gage (H&S)
Pearl Ponce (H&S)
Jennifer Jolly (H&S)
Hormoz Movassaghi (Business)
Jack Wang (H&S)
Abraham Mulugetta (Business)
Deborah Rifkin (Music)
Jacque Washington (CAPS)
Belisa Gonzalez (H&S)
Judith Ross-Bernstein (CFE)
Derek Adams (H&S)

Peyi Soyinka-Airewele

Peyi is Professor of Comparative/International Politics and currently Chair of the Politics Department. Over the past few years, she has served on Faculty Senate (H&S), the All College Tenure and Promotion Committee (including as Chair), Faculty Council and as advisor of several student organizations. Her publications include Socio-Political Scaffolding and the Construction of Change, 2008, with Kelechi Kalu; and Reframing Contemporary Africa, published by the Congressional Quarterly press, 2010, and her research explores issues of memory, identity, post-conflict dilemmas, human rights and democratic development in the post colony, as well as the politics of African cinema. Peyi is a recipient of competitive international fellowships, such as the Global Security and Cooperation Program of the Social Science Research Council and the African Diaspora Fellowship of the Carnegie Foundation. She has received support at IC to develop major initiatives such as the Classrooms Beyond Borders program (with Beth Harris) connecting Ithaca College with Covenant University, Nigeria, the Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria, An-Najah University, Palestine and the University of South Africa. Beyond Ithaca College, Peyi works with the Stephen's Children's Home, a center that nurtures, heals and educates hundreds of children orphaned by terrorism. She also serves as visiting Professor and doctoral dissertation supervisor in some universities overseas. Peyi and her husband have three children who have journeyed through the entire Ithaca school system.

A note: When I first came to Ithaca College in 1999, it did not seem like a propitious future. I was dismayed to realize the college had never tenured a black woman and was not quite sure I would survive in the college climate. However, I was fortunate to meet a few senior international colleagues at a conference in 1998. Their friendship and informal mentorship gave me much needed laughter, confidence and pressure as I pushed forward to earn tenure and later, promotion to full professor. They prodded me to stand for election and serve as the first female President of the Association of Third World Studies (ATWS) and later as Director of Research and then President of the African Studies and Research Forum (ASRF). Over the years, I've been able to advocate for and support several faculty and students facing severe discrimination at IC and in other institutions (while looking for ways to minimize the likelihood of a recurrence). After recently reviewing 20 years of ALANA faculty experiences in terms of retention and work related grievances, the evidence seems clear. For ALANA faculty to thrive as scholars and members of this community, we continue to urgently need a range of support structures; mentoring (including the excellent mutual mentoring through CFE) as well as advocacy support, and an Ombudsman office.

Raj Subramaniam

Raj Subramaniam is a professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education. Dr. Subramaniam received his doctoral degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998. He was a faculty member at Indiana University and Hofstra University prior to taking a position at Ithaca College. Dr. Subramaniam’s expertise is in the area of elementary physical education pedagogy. His research interests are in the areas of motivation, attitude, and interest in physical education and physical activity in the school setting. Dr. Subramaniam has published his research in top-tier journals in the field and has presented at national and international conferences. For his dedication to teaching, scholarship and service Dr. Subramaniam was awarded the Faculty Excellence Award, and the HSHP Dean’s Award at Ithaca College in 2015.

Sue-Je Lee Gage

Sue-Je Lee Gage is an interdisciplinary cultural and political anthropologist who works with mixed-race Asian American communities in the United States and Korea on issues of race, citizenship, identity, gender, war and the impacts of U.S. militarization. After accepting a tenure-track position at Ithaca College in the Department of Anthropology in 2008, she and her daughter moved to Ithaca from Berkeley, California. While she worked in mental health for several years before becoming an anthropologist, she strives to the best of her abilities to use the skills she learned from that field: presence, listening and advocacy. Wanting to do more for the larger Ithaca community, she trained in 2014 to be a volunteer state mediator for nearby counties through New York’s Conflict and Dispute Resolution Centers, where she still continues to volunteer. In December 2017, she received a certificate from York University’s Osgoode Law School for successfully completing and passing their Ombuds training program with the hope to further concerted efforts to create an ombuds office at Ithaca College.

Pearl Ponce

Pearl Ponce is an associate professor in and chair of the History Department. She earned a B.A. in International Relations from Pomona College, an M.A. in History from Ohio University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in History. She teaches United States political and diplomatic history and is a specialist on the territorial system. Her publications include “To Govern the Devil in Hell”: The Political Crisis in Territorial Kansas and Kansas’s War: The Civil War in Documents. Over the last few years, she has served on APC, the Faculty Development Committee, and the Grievance Committee. Although she is happy to serve as a resource and sounding board for any faculty who needs to problem solve, she has most often worked with fellow faculty on file preparation and construction of the narratives for reviews, tenure, and promotion.

Jennifer Jolly

Jennifer Jolly is an associate professor in and current chair of the Art History department, and teaches courses in Latin American, Pre-Columbian, and US Latino Art. A recipient of multiple national grants (Fulbright’s and a NEH research fellowship), she is a good resource for those seeking fellowship opportunities in the humanities. She has served on H&S Senate for 9 years, and thus has a good grasp of H&S policy and politics. Most recently, she been working with Senate and the CFE on addressing bias in student statements, and can serve as a resource in this area.

Hormoz Movassaghi

I joined the department of Finance and International Business in August 1988. I did most of my graduate work at University of Wisconsin-Madison (Ph.D. and MBA in International Business and MA in Health Services Administration); I did my undergraduate and MS in Economics in Iran. Over the course of years, I have had extensive experience serving in a variety of All College committees (APC, T&P, ICC, Middle States Working Groups and Steering Committees, search committees for deans, directors, and VPs, Strategic Planning, Study Abroad Programs, among others). I have also served at various curriculum, assessment, admission, T&P, etc. in the School of Business, as well as serving as Faculty Associate Dean (2004-2009), closely involved with the School of Business initial accreditation with AACSB as well as the first maintenance of accreditation reviews. I’d be delighted to assist in any way my experience may be of help.

Jack Wang

Jack Wang is an associate professor in the Department of Writing. He received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in English/creative writing from Florida State University. His fiction, which dramatizes the Chinese diasporic experience, has been longlisted for The Journey Prize and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Born in Taiwan and raised in Canada, Dr. Wang has lived in various parts of the US as well as the UK, where he held the David T.K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia. He served as department chair from 2011-14 and is currently serving a second term (2017-20). As chair of the department’s search committees, he helped to bring four Diversity Scholar Fellows to the Department of Writing, most of whom have been retained in tenure-eligible lines. He has lived in Ithaca for the past twelve years. His wife works for the Ithaca City School District, and together they are raising two daughters.

Abraham Mulugetta

Abraham Mulugetta is Charles A. Dana Professor of Finance and International Business and Founder of the Center for Trading and Analysis of Financial Instruments (the Trading Room) in the School of Business at Ithaca College. He has received his Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor Mulugetta is an engaged scholar with extensive records of scholarly publications which include: ten book chapters and cases; thirty peer-reviewed journal articles; and thirty-two national/international conference proceedings in addition to numerous regional, national and international presentations. He has also received several best paper awards in conferences, President’s Recognition Award, Teaching Excellence Award, and Research Excellence Award. Professor Mulugetta is a committed teacher and dedicated founder of the Trading Room. He states his teaching philosophy as:

“Teaching is a continuous learning process intertwined within the confine of civility that reflects on the past, the present and explores the future. Teaching is one of the most important professions and leaves its legacy for generations to come. Teaching is the embodiment that fosters curiosity enshrined with social responsibility.

The establishment of the Trading Room is the epic points of my commitment as a teacher, scholar and service provider, where I have devoted weekends, winter and summer breaks, as well as all my sabbatical leaves over the last twenty five years. It is also the culmination point of my teaching philosophy that promotes collaborative, experiential learning among students themselves. There has been a high level of self-motivated learning and sharing the excitement of learning over the last twenty four years in the Trading Room that foster group dynamic of mutual curiosity embraced by civility. The Core Trading Consultants, the Investment Challenge, the Ithaca Real-Time Fund, and the Investment Track are luminary examples of the tradition of student involvements that embrace mentoring and integrative learning.”

Dr. Mulugetta has served in many department, school and college-wide committees which include: Advisor for several student organizations; Chair for Finance Faculty Search Committee; Tenure & Promotion Committee for Business School as well as College; Faculty Development Committee; Summer Research Grant Committee; and Honorary Degrees Advisory Committee.

Deborah Rifkin

Deborah Rifkin is an Associate Professor of Music Theory. Within the School of Music she has served in leadership roles, including as chair of faculty (elected annually for three years) and as interim chair for the Theory, History, and Composition department. College-wide, she is consistently appointed and elected to serve in strategic capacities, such as on the executive board of faculty council, President Callado’s Transition Team, several dean and provost search committees, the Mid-Career Women’s Group, and as a faculty resident of the Center for Faculty Excellence. She came to Ithaca College as a trained mediator and has found this background helpful to her service on campus. As part of the mentoring and advocacy network, her strengths are 12 years of experience working with (and gaining the trust of) both faculty and administrators on campus, and an ability to facilitate difficult conversations between individuals and groups in conflict.

Jacque Tara Washington

Ms. Jacque Tara Washington is a licensed clinical social worker with a Master’s degree in Social Work from Syracuse University. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania with the focus on race and racism on college campuses in America. Ms. Washington is also a professional vocalist and actress and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre and Directing from Syracuse University and has performed jazz and one-woman presentations throughout the United States and globally. In addition, Ms. Washington has a degree in Radio/Television Communications/Journalism. Among the vast number of presentations Ms. Washington has created is Strange Fruit: Examining the Impact of Racism in America, which she has presented to various groups and organizations at Ithaca College and beyond; this presentation, as it evolves, is also at the core of her doctoral dissertation. As a mental health therapist and certified trauma specialist, Ms. Washington has her private practice, Renewing Your Mind Counseling and Psychological Services and works in Counseling and Psychological Services at Ithaca College.

Belisa González

Belisa González is an associate professor of Sociology and the Director of the Center for the Study of Culture Race and Ethnicity. Her early work explored the inter and intra group dynamics between communities of color in Georgia. Specifically, she investigated the strategies of coalition building among African American and Latinas living and organizing in Atlanta. More recently she is interested in how middle-class Mexican and Dominican immigrants understand their experiences with discrimination in Atlanta and how those understandings are situated with the literature on Latinx and discrimination in the U.S. After the student protests of fall 2015, Belisa was sought after by many in the campus community to deliver workshops on topics related to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Give her experiences as a Chicana from South Texas, she is a good person to seek if you would like to talk about balancing service expectations with professional goals, particularly as a person of color on IC campus. Belisa is also the mother of two young children and thus is also open to conversations and commiseration about work life balance and other topics related to family.

Judith Ross-Bernstein

As the Assistant Director at the Center for Faculty Excellence, I can offer a wide range of services to support faculty success in the classroom. Many faculty meet with me individually to problem solve teaching and learning dilemmas of all sorts- from difficult classroom interactions- to challenges in course design. I have been told that I am a good listener and someone who can help faculty articulate their teaching intentions with clarity and then work backwards to implement change. Upon request, I can give targeted feedback to faculty through a mid-semester evaluation, classroom observation, and am able to write a collegial observation letter on your behalf. I have many resources to share with faculty who desire to make changes in their teaching to shape community in the classroom context, improve the learning experiences of their students, and reflect on their own decision making satisfaction.