Sept. 30: Letter to the Community

Posted October 2nd, 2014 at 3:55 pm.

The following email was sent to students, faculty, and staff by President Kim Cassidy on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

In my inauguration remarks earlier this month, I talked about the special sense of community we experience at Bryn Mawr – one in which students, faculty and staff alike contribute to the vibrant living and learning environment here – and the challenges of creating and sustaining a community as diverse as this one. I believe our diversity is a strength and a mark of excellence and I am deeply committed to working together with you to create a campus climate that is experienced as safe and supportive by all community members.

To move us forward, I believe that we need to examine the intersection of our honor code and our protocols and procedures for handling incidents that violate our community standards, particularly situations that may involve elements of bias. While there are many virtues of our current practices, we recognize the importance of identifying the limitations of these systems to support individuals’ and the community’s response to bias-related concerns. This work will be carried out by a subgroup of the Diversity Leadership Group and the newly re-instated Diversity Council (a group comprised of students, faculty and staff), which will meet and consult carefully with members of the community.

Today, I want to assure you that I heard you last spring at the town hall and other gatherings when you called for change and asked that change be visible and tangible. I want to underscore that these are community issues that must engage all sectors of our campus, rather than be labeled as problems to be solved in isolation by any one group of students, faculty, staff or administrators. In that spirit, I want to share with you some concrete progress we have made.

Faculty and Curriculum

Provost Mary Osirim has been working since last spring with two faculty committees – the Committee on Academic Priorities and the Committee on Appointments – to take additional steps to support the diversification of our faculty and curriculum. We hope to accomplish this with the approval of tenure-track positions in content areas underrepresented in the curriculum – like Latina Studies, approved last year – and by changes to our hiring processes.

Community Education

We have enhanced our attention to diversity as a topic during Customs Week and during new faculty orientation, resulting in a revision to both programs with more time spent on this area. We are also exploring how we might incorporate diversity as an area of focus in the required first year Wellness course. We have started discussions around having an annual, campus-wide professional development day in the spring semester during which the entire campus stops to focus on an issue of diversity and inclusion that is important to our community.

In addition to the regular Pensby Center programming, Provost Osirim, several faculty members, Ruth Lindeborg from my office and the Pensby Center have partnered to create themed programming to focus the College’s resources, efforts and engagement around specific topics. This year’s theme, Dissent, Violence, Justice, kicks off tomorrow, October 1 with Mona Eltahawy’s talk Revolution One -ism at a Time: The Global Fight vs Sexism, Racism and Other -isms. I am pleased that the Created Equal film series continues this year with an abridged screening of Slavery By Another Name and talk by Professor Ruth Wilson Gilmore on October 7.

Next month a group of students – along with faculty and staff – will begin to look at what the new Perry House interior will look like and how it will function. This group will further define the space and its use, answering questions about the type of programming it will sponsor, how the cultural center and library will be installed and managed, and how residents will opt in to this residence. Lastly, I want to share that Bryn Mawr has agreed to be a sponsor of the 2016 White Privilege Conference to be held in Philadelphia; planning for this event begins in summer 2015 and more information will be available then.

Resources

Dean Judy Balthazar has been working to augment resources for the Pensby Center and has re-arranged staffing to ensure that the work of supporting student diversity is broadly shared. Additional staff participation in Pensby initiatives will provide Vanessa Christman and Stephanie Nixon greater flexibility in allocating their attention and expertise. In addition, we have converted the funding for the Pensby office assistant position from renewable to permanent. Finally, Dean Balthazar has reallocated funds in her budget to provide an additional $5,000 to support Pensby Center programming that will benefit all students.

This is just a sample of our ongoing work. We welcome community involvement and input into our planning and implementation and know it is crucial to our success. Please continue to share your thoughts and ideas with us and we will do the same. Through communication and collaboration we will achieve our goals.

 

With best wishes,

Kim
Kim Cassidy
President

Filed under: Announcements,For Faculty,For Staff,For students by Alyssa Banotai

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