Dear Campus Community,
As you know, in August our draft Antiracism Implementation Plan was shared and we requested – and received – much thoughtful feedback from many of you individually, as well as from key groups including CCSGA, the Faculty Executive Committee, the Diversity & Equity Advisory Board, and Staff Council. Much of this input was incorporated into our final plan.
At the beginning of Block 4, I shared our completed Antiracism Implementation Plan. During Block 5, I’ve heard concerns about the plan. I want to thank members of DEAB, CCSGA, and other students for sharing the community’s concerns with senior leadership and me. I have had several important conversations with many of you around this issue. While we did receive significant input on the draft plan, I realize now that we should have given an opportunity to comment on the final plan.
As highlighted in the plan, it is important that as we approach this work today, we recognize current members of our campus community who are committed to antiracism, as well generations past who laid the groundwork for our efforts. I especially want to acknowledge the work of Dr. Paul Buckley, our former assistant vice president and director of the Butler Center, who did so much for students, trained the majority of our faculty and staff, and guided many of our antiracism efforts on campus. I know that his decision to resign as a result of our planned restructuring to a three-person diversity, equity, and inclusion team has impacted students, and I am very sorry for that. Our mission and our antiracism work in service of that mission is to create an environment where all students can thrive, and I am grateful to Associate Professor Manya Whitaker for stepping in as our interim director of the Butler Center, and to the Butler Center staff for their continued commitment to support students.
As we work to transform Colorado College into an antiracist institution, we will face resistance and confront difficult challenges. We will make mistakes and learn important lessons. I’m committed to moving forward on our antiracism work and improving the communication of our efforts. Therefore, every other block, the college will provide an update on our progress.
Here are some recently launched initiatives, what’s happening now, and what’s ahead.
In August we launched the Colorado Pledge, a commitment to make a CC education more affordable to families from our home state with adjusted gross incomes below $200,000. Already we’ve seen strong interest, with applications from Colorado students for entry next fall up 51% over the record set last year. Our alumni, parents, and friends are inspired by this program, and have shown that by providing over $5 million in gifts to support it.
In October, we initiated the Stroud Scholars program, which provides college preparation for high-promise Pikes Peak region students who face a range of barriers to college acceptance and success. Students successfully completing the program will earn admission to Colorado College and receive a financial aid package that will enable them to attend. The Stroud Scholars program honors the legacy of two of the earliest African-American students to graduate from Colorado College, siblings Kelly Dolphus Stroud ’31 and Effie Stroud Frazier ’31, who persevered through discrimination yet excelled in education and in their lives.
Examination of policies
As the plan notes, because racism is systemic and institutional, we are critically examining our outcomes, policies, handbooks, procedures, practices, and daily operations to find areas where inequities, bias, and injustice are embedded.
This semester, Dr. Takiyah Amin, a scholar, educator, and consultant, is examining The Pathfinder through an antiracism and anti-oppression lens and will make recommendations for changes to be implemented for next academic year. Dr. Amin is working in the Office of Student Life and will also teach a course, Black Women in Contemporary Performance, in the Feminist and Gender Studies department in Block 7. If you have input for her review, contact her at email@example.com.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team searches
The three-person team approach is one that many people saw as an effective way for the college to address antiracism systemically and collegewide. Each member of the team will bring deep expertise to the areas of academics, Student Life, and Human Resources. These team members will work individually in their respective areas while collectively assuring that attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion is given to all aspects of academic and work life at CC. Examples of this work include, but are not limited to, developing discipline-specific inclusive pedagogies, examining all department and program fees and requirements, diversifying the faculty, coordinating effective co-curricular educational opportunities and avenues to address issues of inclusion and difference, and ensuring searches, performance management, and learning and development opportunities are equitable and inclusive.
Only by creating real, substantive change in the policies and systems of accountability in each of these three areas will Colorado College realize its aspiration to be an antiracist institution. Recent studies and lived experiences have shown that the centralized, advisory position of the traditional chief diversity officer often is not effective at colleges and universities.
We heard feedback that we should conduct national searches for these positions – note that qualified internal candidates, as always, are encouraged to apply – and that these three people should be hired to work as a team that brings complementary skill sets, expertise, and experience to the task of creating change in our institution’s racist ideas, policies, and practices.
Spelman Johnson, a firm that specializes in higher education leadership searches, will conduct the searches for the three positions. Search Associate Quincy Martin III of Spelman Johnson will visit campus soon and will help us to fully develop the position descriptions.
Our search committees are forthcoming, but here are the three position titles, and the chairs of each committee:
- Senior Associate Dean for Equity, Inclusion, and Faculty Development – Dean of the Faculty and Professor of English Claire Oberon Garcia, search committee chair
- Senior Associate Dean of Students for Equity and Inclusion/Director of the Butler Center– Dr. Manya Whitaker, associate professor of education, chair of the Education Department, interim director of the Butler Center, and advisor to the Black Student Union, search committee chair
- Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Staff – Associate Vice President of Human Resources Heather Kissack, search committee chair
We aim to host finalists for these three roles on campus before the academic year ends and hire the team this summer so our full team will be on campus by the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year.
Antiracism oversight committee
During Block 6, we will set up the oversight committee for our Antiracism Implementation Plan. This committee, to include students, faculty, staff, and the president of the college, is charged with ensuring that the initiatives of the plan are being implemented, and with assessing the impact of the initiatives. In addition, because our plan is a “living” document that will change as needed over time, this group will consider and approve updates to the plan. The committee will provide an annual progress report to the Board of Trustees Executive Committee. Self or other nominations for membership on this committee should be sent to CCSGA (for students), Faculty Executive Committee (for faculty), or Staff Council (for staff) early in Block 6.
I will report to the community on more progress during Block 7.
Thank you for your commitment to this crucial work and to the many campus community members who have provided feedback on improving our process and communications.