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Colgate University Correspondence


Colgate for All update

By Contributing Writer on October 4, 2015

Dear members of the Colgate community:

Friday, September 25, marked the one-year anniversary of a peaceful protest that lasted for 100 hours. It is not for us to commemorate this day, for we do not own it; however, we write today to remember the significance of the sit-in as an important juncture in Colgate’s history and to restate our commitment to build a Colgate for All consistent with the belief, expressed in our mission statement, that residential education “encourages exploration, expands mutual understanding, and supports a broadened perspective within a caring, humane community.”

Our vision for a Colgate for All is one of our most important university priorities. And carrying it out is everyone’s responsibility. We know there is much more work to be done, yet many students, professors, and staff members — both individuals and groups — have mobilized since last fall to bring about positive change at Colgate in structural, programmatic, and informal ways.

In continuing that effort, we began the new academic year focused on the entering students, with a letter welcoming our Bicentennial class. At orientation, Colgate Conversations fostered important intergroup dialogue, and a fall lineup of speakers is allowing for extended discussions of themes in the summer reading of Kiese Laymon’s book through Colgate Community Reads. In the area of student support, Drea Finley ’13 was appointed director of our new first-generation program. All these efforts, the product of much hard work by many, are setting a positive tone and building skills among our newest students.

Regarding faculty and staff efforts, we organized the annual White Eagle faculty retreat in May around the theme of Power, Privilege, and Pedagogy. More than 200 professors and staff members have participated in intergroup relations training, and we organized a brown-bag series of readings and related discussion about equity, diversity, and inclusion at Colgate. This past weekend, Thomas Cruz Soto, associate dean for multicultural affairs, and Trustee Leroy Cody, Jr. ’71 hosted two events with Professor Michael Jeffries (author of Paint the White House Black) for students, staff, faculty, and trustees.

We know that leadership is critical. Diversity and leadership coach Pat Romney facilitated the president’s staff’s summer retreat and continues to offer a series of just-in-time workshops for faculty search committees. A new council composed of faculty, students, and senior administrators is charged with identifying equity and inclusion goals for their areas and monitoring progress. Ms. Judi Dorsey has been hired as vice president for human resources. Her position is essential to making positive cultural changes in recruitment, training, and retention of staff. Changes to the operations of the Office of Equity and Diversity are in process to ensure that there can be greater attention to intergroup dialogue and other important initiatives in this interim year.

We will continue to share progress on the Colgate For All site. We thank you in advance for your suggestions — and your active participation.

In May, commencement speaker Eddie Glaude commended our students for having “courageously forced this university to look unflinchingly at itself.” He pointed out that “colleges and universities are training grounds for citizenship” where “you either cultivate the habits of courage or learn the habits of cowardliness and complicity … You and I must seize hold of the idea that a different arrangement of things is possible.”

Let’s do this together.

Jill Harsin
Interim President

Connie Harsh
Interim Dean of the Faculty and Provost

Suzy Nelson
Vice President and Dean of the College

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