Ongoing and Next Steps on Diversity and Inclusion at University of Redlands

To:  University Community
From:  President Ralph Kuncl
Date:  December 2, 2015

I want to thank our Community – most especially the many students who spoke or who just attended and listened respectfully – for our recent Forum on the difficult issues around race, language, and inclusion that some are experiencing on our campus, and that are reflected in our larger society. More than 500 of us came together in Orton Center on November 18: undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff and administrators, trustees, alumni, and the media. I am told this was the largest turnout for any Community-wide dialogue in Redlands’ history. Again I will express that my deep concern about the issues raised and the pain expressed in, now two, such Forums is joined by gratitude that we are engaged together, talking about our experiences and our mutual concerns.

Following the Forum, College of Arts & Sciences Junior Emma Wade delivered to me a written list of actions that she, fellow students of color, and supporters are expecting to be taken by "the administration, the new Council on Diversity and Inclusion, faculty, Board of Trustees, and admissions" to improve the University’s overall climate for students of color. My Cabinet met on these expectations last week, and the Board of Trustees will meet shortly. In the meantime, we have gathered updates on initiatives already underway to address items on the list (for example, in the areas of recruiting and hiring faculty and students of color) and identified activities that could be supplemented or considered entirely anew. While some items on the list are impossible to achieve – or impossible to achieve within the demanded time frame – due to legal or other preclusions, or the necessary constraints of our shared governance structure, others are achievable steps forward that we can and should consider together.

 As I committed to you in my last message, I will be convening and leading a Council to address inclusion and diversity. It will be this Council and its Community-wide representation that takes up consideration and planning of actions to address the items on the list, as well as communicating outward about decisions and progress made. I am provisionally calling the Council the “University-wide Council on Inclusiveness and Community.” I will convene and lead it in its founding year. Here are my thoughts about how to compose and convene this Council; I invite the Community’s input on this proposed process prior to finalizing the plan:

 

  1. A University-wide "Call for Volunteers and Nominations" will be sent this week, with a stated response deadline of December 10. We wish to attract membership from a broad group – in particular, from students and faculty. I expect much interest in participating. I have already received a couple of nominations, which I am holding until the formal nominating process is set in motion.
  2. I will ask a small advisory group to join me on or immediately after the 10th to sort through the nominations received. This advisory group will be composed of one student, one faculty member, and one staff member and/or administrator – the latter likely drawn from Student Life and/or Campus Diversity & Inclusion.
  3. The advisory group and I will in turn invite input on the nominations from leaders of our Faculty and Staff/Administrators Assemblies, Faculty Senate, ASUR, the Black Faculty Caucus, B.L.A.C.C., Asian Student Association, Native American Student Union, Middle Eastern Student Association, and possibly other campus groups.
  4. If the nominations process does not yield the broadly representative Council we seek, we will reach out again to all of the above groups to solicit further nominations. Final membership is anticipated to number between 15 and 21.
  5. Our goal is to form the Council by end of term on December 19 and to convene for the first time in mid-January, 2016.

 

To comment on this proposed process and timeline for forming our Council, please write to presidentsdropbox@redlands.edu. Time is of the essence, so send your input quickly.

 

I look forward to continuing our work together. We are already moving to examine and improve our inclusiveness and diversity in more ways than are mentioned above. Many first-year seminars, classrooms, and each of our Schools are in debate and discussion. Our learning Community is launching initiatives to reconsider classroom experience, curricular emphasis, extracurricular experiences, and interpersonal training to improve our climate. Faculty members from each School are meeting, as is my Cabinet, practically daily. The Board of Trustees has changed its December meeting agenda to highlight for the entire session the subject of diversity and inclusion, inviting students of color and a panel of faculty and staff for interactive dialogue. 

 

We are intensely engaged in becoming the University that we want to be. I will report back to the Community as milestones occur.

Warmly,

 

Ralph