Site Visits

Improving Your Climate for Minorities

The American Physical Society has designed its Climate for Minorities Site Visit Program to help organizations improve the climate that minorities in physics sometimes experience. An experienced team of minority & non-minority physicists evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of your organization in attracting, communicating with and supporting minorities.

The visit takes approximately one day. The experience and perspective of the site visit team can help you bring your organization's current strengths into better focus and pinpoint changes you can make to increase recruitment and retention of minority faculty, employees, and/or students. All of the team's findings are confidential.


The site visit is initiated by an invitation from the head of the organization (lab director, department chair, etc.) to the Chair of the Committee on Minorities in Physics (COM). The COM Chair will appoint a leader for the site visit, a distinguished minority physicist with experience on other site visits. The head of the organization and the site visit leader will decide upon an appropriate date for the one-day visit.

Formation of the Site Visit Team

The site visit leader is responsible for selecting two to four additional minority and non-minority physicists to participate in the visit. He or she will consult with the organization head regarding any special characteristics of the organization, and will make every effort to choose team members from the same geographical area as the organization to reduce travel costs.

Preparation by the Department

A packet of information regarding the site visit will be sent to the organization in advance of the visit date. The packet will detail the preparations for the site visit to be made by the department.

Questionnaires will be provided by APS to be administered by the organization to its undergraduate and graduate students. The numerical tallies of the results, as well as the original questionnaires (which may contain written comments) should be provided to the site visit leader 6 weeks in advance of the day of the visit.

Additional information about the department and the institution will be requested. This may include enrollment statistics by gender, ethnicity, faculty/employee roster, recent hiring activity and recruiting brochures.

The department prepares the schedule for the visit according to the instructions in the packet. Meetings may be requested with the following:

  • Head of the Organization
  • Minority personnel/faculty in the organization
  • Minority graduate and undergraduate students
  • Administrators (Dean, Provost, President, Officers, Directors)
  • Graduate and undergraduate advisors
  • Other groups such as minority postdocs/contractors or internal groups focused on minority issues

The host organization is responsible for arranging lodging and meals for the site visit team.


The site visit team ordinarily conducts an exit interview with the head of the organization to render a preliminary report of its findings. The team produces a confidential written report to the organization head after the visit. No information specific to the organization is made public. The organization head is asked to report back to the site visit leader six months after the visit, highlighting the changes that have occurred in the organization as a result of the visit.


Expenses for the visit (i.e., travel costs for team members and lodging for the team) are the responsibility of the host organization. All members of the site visit team serve on a volunteer basis. Organization heads are urged to request support for the visit from the administrative officer responsible for the recruitment and retention of under-represented groups.

For more information about the Climate for Minorities Site Visit program, contact:

Arlene Modeste Knowles
American Physical Society
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740-3844
tel: (301) 209-3232
fax: (301) 209-0865