President Herbst’s message to Colgate community about ALANA Affairs Report

Editors note: This is the text of a note from Colgate President Jeffrey Herbst to the Colgate community in regards to the Alana Affairs Report. 

To the Colgate community,

During the 2011-12 academic year, the ALANA Affairs Committee issued a report to the president (attached) that was circulated to all employees and students. The report, building on the committee’s review of previous diversity reports and survey data, proposed both short-term goals and strategic recommendations designed to create a more diverse campus. We would like to thank the members of the committee for their work. This report has provided valuable input for the initiatives that we are pleased to announce today.

After discussions at the university faculty meeting in April and extensive work over the summer, a new university policy has been established regarding equal opportunity, nondiscrimination, sexual harassment, and other forms of harassment. The policy, which has been reviewed by the Board of Trustees’ Legal Affairs Committee and its Executive Committee, clearly defines harassment and bias behavior and requires a unified, timely response to such incidents. Faculty, staff, and student handbooks have been revised to reflect the new policy, found here.

We are also announcing the creation of a new position – associate provost for equity and diversity. This position will focus on integrating diversity practices into the campus environment and serve as a resource that supports diversity in the curriculum. We are pleased that Dr. Marilyn (Lyn) Rugg, professor of romance languages and literatures, has agreed to serve in this post for a three-year term, effective immediately. Lyn has worked for many years in key roles related to ensuring equity and inclusivity at Colgate, including service over the past year as liaison for faculty affirmative action and diversity. This part-time liaison activity will be folded into her new associate provost position.

Another important action is the creation of a cross-divisional, campus-wide equity and diversity leadership team. This new partnership will address many of the areas outlined in the ALANA Affairs report and others, and team members will work closely with the Human Resources Office to promote an inclusive campus environment. Senior administrators appointed to the team include the associate provost for equity and diversity (Lyn Rugg), the associate dean for multicultural affairs (Thomas Cruz-Soto), and a future executive director for compliance and inclusivity, for whom a search is underway. This new director will also assist Colgate in assuring the success of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action programs and will also serve as the university Title IX coordinator and compliance officer for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

One of the new leadership team’s first objectives is to develop a statement articulating Colgate’s commitment to equity and diversity. The team will also bolster, sustain, promote, and assess the progress of ongoing diversity efforts in a coherent and systematic way. The new model allows Colgate to draw on the differing expertise of faculty, staff, and students in order to develop integrated initiatives to increase understanding, respect, and inclusion. The team will be charged to meet regularly with the senior leadership of the university. Our continuous engagement in this effort reflects the seriousness of our commitment and acknowledges that an improved campus climate is the responsibility of all faculty, staff, and students.

Related to campus-wide efforts to improve campus climate, we should also highlight the contribution of the successful Passion for the Climb Campaign, which closed in July after raising $141.5 million for financial aid, a major element of affordability and access. Additional funds garnered from the campaign have already allowed Colgate to increase the number of financial aid slots in the entering class, thereby promoting diversity across the socioeconomic spectrum. Currently, 41% of the student body receives financial aid, with an average aid package of $35,000. This fall, 18.8% of our student body are domestic students who identify as Hispanic/Latino, American-Indian/Native-Alaskan, Black/African-American, Pacific-Islander/Hawaiian, or multiracial. An additional 7.5% of students are international.

Importantly, curricular enhancements have been designed to further cross-cultural interaction and understanding, including the Core — particularly Communities and Identities, Core 152, and the new global engagement component — as well as many other relevant courses across departments and interdisciplinary programs. Colgate has also created three new faculty positions that add diversity to the curriculum.

Internationalism, a hallmark of a Colgate education, is another important way to promote increased understanding. Over 65% of our students study abroad during their college career. These experiences, augmented by faculty-led international study groups and a new portable aid initiative, encourage students to consider a broader geographic range of destinations.

In addition, the Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS), a long-time, outstanding program that provides many services, including a summer institute, supports highly talented students who have demonstrated superior intelligence, creativity and resilience in the face of substantial social, economic, and educational odds. Colgate’s formal participation in the Veterans Affairs “Yellow Ribbon Program” and recruitment work with the Marine Corps will help the college recruit veterans who also add to the diversity of life experience found in the student body.

In these and many other ways, Colgate has worked diligently to improve our campus climate. However, there is much more work to be done. The combination of new and ongoing programs reflects our commitment to a coordinated and sustained effort, representing all facets of Colgate, to build on our strengths and to foster a community where we all share a sense of belonging.

Thank you,

Jeffrey Herbst, President
Doug Hicks, Provost and Dean of the Faculty
Suzy Nelson, Vice President and Dean of the College
David Hale, Vice President for Finance and Administration

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