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Meet Viji Sathy, Academic Leadership Program Director


October 4, 2021 | Kristen Chavez

Viji Sathy
Viji Sathy. Photo by Kristen Chavez.

Whether she’s teaching undergraduates or leading a workshop for faculty, Viji Sathy continues to focus on inclusion.

 

When she walks into a room, Viji Sathy asks herself two questions:

Who is not there, and why?

Who is not speaking, and why?

For her, these questions highlight the importance of equity and inclusion, whether in the classroom or leadership spaces.

In July, Sathy began a three-year term as director of the Ruel W. Tyson Academic Leadership Program.

“I have learned so much in this program and am honored to continue its rich tradition of giving Carolina faculty the opportunity to think critically about effective leadership and get to know more about themselves as leaders.”

Sathy was an ALP Fellow in Spring 2021, and she greatly appreciated the way the program allowed her and her cohort the time and space to explore leadership.

“It gave us a much-needed pause weekly to reflect on effective leadership, to check-in on each other, and perhaps most importantly, to foster a community that we can turn to time and time again to have meaningful conversations about our lives, goals and aspirations,” said Sathy.

As director, Sathy wants to bring the same care and attention to ALP gatherings, facilitating conversations that are comfortable and authentic.

“It not only gives me the opportunity to foster this with future cohorts, but also help shape the program by bringing the valuable lessons I have learned in my time at Carolina as an undergraduate, graduate student and faculty member.”

Sathy has been committed to helping faculty, whether it’s through workshops on inclusive teaching or creating tools to help them better understand their students. During the pandemic, Sathy trained University instructors to assist with the sudden shift to remote teaching. She was appointed as a Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Teaching by the Center for Faculty Excellence in 2020.

This year she spearheads a new program, the Townsend Program for Education Research, in the College’s Office of Undergraduate Education. The program’s strategic priority is using high-quality assessments and research designs to support College faculty as they conduct research about student programs and educational experiences.

As a fixed-term faculty member, Sathy recognizes the limited opportunities for campus leadership. At one ALP meeting last semester, a panel of former members shared the importance of letting others know you want to be considered for an open leadership position that interests you.

Even if you don’t get it, you’re informing people that it is the type of position that you want. Sathy took that lesson to heart when she learned about the search for the ALP director position in May.

“I am passionate about inclusion,” Sathy said. And with her upcoming book with biology teaching professor Kelly Hogan, Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom, “I’m gaining an interest for how we bring the lessons of inclusive teaching to facilitation and leadership.”

Now, in these leadership spaces, she asks new questions:

How do we cultivate a diverse set of leaders?

How do we change systems and structures to enable more people to see their leadership expertise?

These are questions she can’t answer on her own. With the help of current and future ALP Fellows, she hopes the answers will affect positive change for Carolina.

 

Viji Sathy is a Professor of the Practice in the Psychology and Neuroscience Department.

The Academic Leadership Program is now accepting applications for the 2022-2023 academic year, through Oct. 29. Learn more about the program and application requirements.


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