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The 2022 Women of UD

Carissa M. Krane, PhD

Carissa Krane



It must now seem like a lifetime ago, but at her September 2015 installation as the inaugural Schuellein Chair in Biological Sciences, Carissa Krane stated, “Our default answer to good ideas should be ‘yes let’s make it happen,’ not ‘no’ because we can’t imagine how.” Krane was speaking, of course, to the particular culture of the natural sciences at the University of Dayton, but the prescience of her remarks, when we read them today, is, well, remarkable. Certainly many other faculty, along with UD’s administration and staff, have made heroic adjustments and adapted to new modalities over the past two years, but she said “yes” to an additional, enormous challenge; imagined the “how;” and then did all she could to make change happen. Krane, vice president of the Academic Senate and chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee, helped lead the effort to change UD’s promotion and tenure policy to ensure that all faculty work is counted in the promotion and tenure process. The changes also guarantee that all faculty must demonstrate their contributions toward inclusive excellence. Krane said “yes” to the challenge, “because if we didn’t find a way to make this change, our faculty and our institution would stagnate.”

The logistics of the massive undertaking became much more difficult when the pandemic hit. Krane believed the key to establishing effective, beneficial change was inclusive input. “How do we approach something as meaningful as a generational change in tenure and promotion – it’s going to affect a generation of faculty – and get people to feel that they have contributed, that they’re on board, that they were part of the genesis of this, that they are invested?” She believed the way to approach the initial, consultative phase, especially in “COVID world,” was to make sure that everyone could participate in conversations, and in different ways. “We collected input through multiple methods so that the accumulated information was as inclusive as it could possibly be. We held open forums via ZOOM. We had anonymous questions. We had dedicated sessions. We went unit by unit. We went department by department. We put together a video, an infographic, an entire Isidore site. There were lots of touchpoints for people to get involved, and I think that has never been done before.”

Krane acknowledges this method was much more time intensive than “just calling the traditional meeting and having lunch and a discussion.” Her innovative approach took time and vision, and organization and planning, and she knew many of her colleagues could not take on even one more thing. But she also knew it was important work that needed to be done. The result of all of her planning and dedication was successful ratification of the policy change by faculty vote in November 2021, and approval by the Board of Trustees in January 2022. Although Academic Senate President Sam Dorf publicly thanked Krane for her work, it was the time and contributions of “hundreds of others that resulted in the creation and successful adoption of the revised policy,” Krane says.

She is emphatic that the success of the vote was due to the level of participation by faculty members at all stages of the process, not from her individual role. For her, there is a real parallel between the effort of the faculty and its committees, who worked together to win this change, and the effort required of her and her Marquette University volleyball teammates working to win matches. Those demanding years as a student/athlete helped mold Krane, and she still relies on the lessons learned decades ago. “Teamwork is required to be a Division 1 athlete; and science is teamwork; and this took teamwork. I have relied on this in all facets of my life. Teamwork is crucial.” In the case of the promotion and tenure policy vote process, she says, “so many different people helped with pieces and it wouldn’t have happened without them.”

For Krane, teamwork includes being supportive, and she believes this is what it will take for the University of Dayton to move forward from these uncertain times. “We are faced with challenges – both acute and long-term – that force us to adopt changes in how we pursue our collective work at UD. In addition to the ongoing issues of the pandemic and social unrest, we are facing changes all across the University.” She cites the searches for new deans and CSIT, and notes how these elements push us to consider how we will pursue our mission in the future. “Some change of this type is normal, but right now people are scared because there is so much impending change.” Finding ways to be supportive of others through these changes will be the biggest challenge for the campus community, but Krane feels it will also be the way through. “We have wonderful colleagues. Speaking as ‘the faculty,’ the care and concern for all members of the University community is evident.” 

In the midst of all the change and uncertainty, Krane sees bright spots when she thinks about the students at UD, and the way they have had their lives turned upside down during the past couple of years. “They were not getting the same college experience their older brothers and sisters had, that they expected to have. When they are in class now, it is very different. They are so appreciative to be there, and I leave class feeling juiced.” She also is enthusiastic about the potential of the revised University Promotion and Tenure Policy to further foster an environment where the “work we pursue on behalf of the University will be tangibly valued, in meaningful ways – in ways that will enhance the student experience and will further the mission of the University.”