Charge to the Commission
President Joanne Creighton
December 9, 2003
Establish a joint presidential commission and subcommittee of the Multicultural Community and College Life Committee made up of faculty, students, and staff to implement the goals supporting “diverse community” in The Plan for Mount Holyoke 2010 (III. A. I, p. 15).
“Diverse community is the touchstone of Mount Holyoke’s identity. . . . Diversity not only enhances the critical and moral education of Mount Holyoke students, but also represents our collective commitment to social justice, and to thinking deeply about issues of difference, pluralism, and community.” (The Plan for 2010, p. 4).
This ad hoc Presidential Commission on Diverse Community is charged with assessing and enhancing the role diversity plays in our work environment, our community, and especially in the curricular and co-curricular dimensions of our students’ education.
The Commission should take as its mandate our mission to educate “a diverse community of women at the highest level of academic excellence” and should address both how to make diversity more educationally productive for all students and how to ameliorate those conditions that inhibit or prevent some students from achieving their full academic potential.
Paying particular attention to racial and ethnic diversity, it should seek to gain analytical perspectives on student satisfaction and achievement, using, as a starting point, recent COFHE data and other such assessment measures, and it should follow, where appropriate, the recommendations of our Mellon-funded study, “Creating a Climate of Achievement for all Students.” It should foster exploratory conversations among faculty, students, and staff; support opportunities for faculty to discuss and develop pedagogical strategies for working with diverse learners; and try to elicit creative, systemic ways to mentor students and help to instill a climate of high expectations and achievement for targeted groups. It should encourage both single-campus and consortial initiatives, especially with the Five Colleges.
Recognizing that education takes place outside as well as inside the classroom, the Commission should address co-curricular issues and programming and help to create a culture of diversity and inclusion. Embracing the idea that learning to know others who are different is a valuable path to wisdom and self-understanding, the Commission should encourage initiatives that promote dialogue and interaction across difference.
More broadly, it should promote efforts to become more diverse in our student body, staff, and faculty and to acknowledge and celebrate the benefits of diverse community in all facets of College life.
Ideally, the Commission will begin its work in January 2004 and finish by May of 2005.
Presidential/MCCL Commission on Diverse Community
Membership – Spring 2004 (1), Fall 2004 (2), Spring 2005 (3)
- Lee Bowie, Dean of the College, co-Chair (1,2,3)
- Lucas Wilson, Director of Academic Development, co-Chair (2,3)
- Adrianne Andrews, Ombudsperson (2,3)
- Sava Asmelash ’07 (2,3)
- Sarah Bacon, Assistant Professor of Biology (2,3)
- Lois Brown, Associate Professor of English (1)
- Rochelle Calhoun, Executive Director of the Alumnae Association (1,2,3)
- Joanne Creighton, President (1,2,3)
- Isabelle Darling, Coördinator of Multi-Cultural Affairs (2,3)
- Rene Davis, Director of Residential Life (1,2,3)
- Sean Decatur, Professor of Chemistry (1)
- Rachel Fink, Professor of Biology (1)
- Penny Gill, Dean of the Faculty (2,3)
- Naeema Hernandez ’06 (1)
- Robin Johnson ’04 (1)
- Sara Marquis ’07 (2,3)
- Lynn Morgan, Professor of Anthropology (1,2,3)
- Holly Sharac, Senior Administrative Assistant to the History Department (2,3)
- Don O’Shea, Dean of Faculty (1)
- Becky Wai-Ling Packard, Assistant Professor of Psychology (2,3)
- Susan Pliner, Associate Director of the Wiessman Center for Leadership (1,2)
- Michelle Stephens, Assistant Professor of English (2,3)
- Devi Yalamanchili ’05 (1,2,3)
A preliminary draft of this report formed the basis for a discussion in faculty meeting, and for a series of community fora in which members of the Commission could exchange views with interested members of the community. The Commission benefited enormously from those conversations, and as a result this final report has been transformed considerably. Meeting took place on the following schedule.
- Wednesday, 13 April 2005, Faculty Meeting
- Friday, 15 April 2005, Noon-2:00 pm, Betty Shabazz Cultural Center
- Monday, 18 April 2005, 7:00-8:30 pm, NY Room (SGA- sponsored)
- Friday, 29 April 2005, Noon-2:00 pm, NY Room
President Joanne V. Creighton
In remarks to Community Forum, March 10, 2004
- Root out Stereotyping and Insensitivity.
- I will sponsor and help others to sponsor lectures, workshops, and other programs that will educate all of us and help to raise awareness to what Claude Steele calls "stereotype threat" and other insidious vestiges of racism.
- I will support coordination, through Human Resources, of campus diversity awareness and educational programs.
- I will support students, faculty and staff in developing an anti-racist statement that is displayed prominently on our website and in our publications.
- Create a Climate of Achievement for All Students.
- I formed the high-level Presidential Commission on Diverse Community, because I place these academic support issues among the very highest of our institutional priorities.
- Many faculty are already running or developing programs and others are eager to get engaged. We will more widely share what is happening and what we are already committed to do, and we must make new commitments and try new approaches.
- To give heightened urgency to an action agenda, I am committed to hiring, even before the end of this term if possible, a faculty member on special assignment to work closely with me and the Dean of Faculty, and the faculty as a whole to help to move this agenda to the fast track.
- Celebrate Cultural Diversity.
- I will support the hiring of an Assistant Dean of Students for Multicultural Affairs, who will help to advise ALANA co-chairs, support cultural organizations, facilitate cultural programming, and make productive connections to Student Programs, the Career Development Center, and other offices and services. This position will be in place by next fall.
- Demonstrate Institutional Commitment.
- My colleagues in the administration and I will step up our affirmative and creative efforts to hire more persons of color for positions across the College. I am pleased to have recently hired, Adrianne Andrews, Ombudsperson. We will target, in particular, openings in the Office of the Dean of the College, in the Career Development Center, and in the Counseling Center. Working with the faculty, we will try to sustain the impressive success resulting in 18 of 41 (or 44%) of recently hired faculty being persons of color, a record unmatched, I believe, by any peer institution in the country. It is a reflection of our widespread commitment to the extraordinary educational benefits of diverse perspectives across the curriculum.
- At the same time, we should acknowledge that Mount Holyoke is made up of many people who, regardless of color and gender, are deeply committed to a robust agenda of making Mount Holyoke a place that values and supports every single student. The faculty, the SGA, the Staff Council, the Operational Policies Council, and many offices, services and other groups within the College have expressed strong interest in being engaged in an institutional agenda supporting and affirming diverse community.
- I am particularly interested in setting up an ad hoc ALANA advisory committee to share ideas, to focus our agenda with clear time lines, to track progress, and to witness our steady progress towards common goals.
Since the October, 2003 meetings the College community has done much in responding to the issues to which ALANA students drew our attention, the most immediate of which was the creation, announced at the December, 2003 faculty meeting, of the Presidential Commission on Diverse Community. As the Commission began its work it has recommended a number of steps to be taken as part of its study or as clear outcomes of its initial study. In addition many segments of the community – students, faculty, staff, administration – rose to the challenge of response, even as the Commission was continuing its deliberations. Among the initiatives we as a community have already accomplished or begun are:
A campus-wide forum on issues of race and bias (March 10, 2004). President Creighton announced her “Four Imperatives” (cf. Appendix D)
Over five new positions:
- a full-time Coördinator for Multicultural Affairs (Isabelle Darling)
- a new full-time position in Counseling Services (Adriana DiPasquale)
- a half-time Director of Academic Development (Lucas Wilson, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Economics)
- a half-time position, to be combined with the Ombudsperson position, for a Director of Diversity and Inclusion
- a full-time research librarian for multicultural programs and diversity
- a five-College shared minority recruitment officer, who will be housed at Mount Holyoke.
A faculty seminar, focused in the sciences, run by the Director of Academic Development, met regularly during the spring semester. It involved fifteen faculty in study and discussion of race and pedagogy.
A regional conference organized by the Director of Academic Development and the Dean of the College, and sponsored by CHAS (Consortium for High Achievement and Success) brought 72 faculty from the mid-Atlantic and northeast states to Mount Holyoke to discuss pedagogy aimed at achievement for all students.
Events sponsored directly by the Commission
- Faculty workshop by Josh Aronson and Goeff Cohen (March 30, 2004)
- Faculty workshop, student seminar, and major public lecture by Claude Steele on “Stereotype Threat” (September 21, 2004)
Many student-organized events, including
- “Spinning Into Butter”, a public reading and deans’ panel, directed by Kelly Tomkins-Calvin and performed in Blanchard
- A re-creation in front of Blanchard of the Wall in the West Bank of Gaza
- A Panel/discussion, “Where are all the queer students of color?”
- A well-attended panel in Gamble Auditorium, “Are All Mothers Created Equal?”
Events sponsored by the Dean of Students office:
- A public showing in Blanchard of the acclaimed PBS series, “Race: The Power of an Illusion”
- "People of Color”, “White People”, and “Coming Together” dialogues during Black History Month
- Talkback following “Stop Kiss”, a student-directed play
- Film festival April 8-9 on race relations
- Numerous events organized by the academic departments, including
- A series of three lectures and panels offered by the history department entitled “What Difference Does History Make? Understanding Race in Comparative Contexts.”
Five projects related to the Commission’s work were funded by the APC through the Mellon funded Presidential Innovation Fund. These included an intergroup dialogue project, a cross-cultural counseling project, a project on multiculturalism in the orientation program, a project on alumnae mentoring of student and community workers, and a project in Black theatre.
The new coördinator of multi-cultural affairs helped student organizers to strengthen and bring into more cohesion the myriad events organized around the celebration of cultural awareness months and other cultural events.
Repairs to the Betty Shabbaz and the ACE houses (November, 2003)
A comprehensive review of our procedures for responding to bias incidents with the aim of revising them as needed and making more clear to members of the community how to get help in dealing with bias incidents and what resources are available:
Workshops on race and bias sponsored by the Human Resources department for various staff groups, including the Operational Policy Committee
Workshops on race and bias sponsored by the dean of the College (for the Health and Counseling Services, the Dean of Students’ group, Residential Life, Student Programs, Religious Life, and the academic deans), the art museum, the vice-president for Enrollment and College Relations (for Student Financial Services, Institutional Research, the Communications’ office, the Registrar’s office, Admission and the FP office, and the CDC).
A summer study group (Summer, 2004) and a faculty seminar (Spring, 2005) sponsored by the new Office of Academic Development. The seminar involved fifteen faculty, over half from the sciences, studying and discussing issues of race and pedagogy.
The Multi-Cultural and College Life Committee (MCCL) has placed issues of bias at the top of its agenda for January 2005 – June 2006, conducting meetings and forums with students of color. It expects to be closely involved in implementing and extending beyond race the recommendations of the DCC report.
- Mount Holyoke College mission statement, The Plan for 2003, Mount Holyoke College.
- Sharyn Ainsworth ’69, in “Mount Holyoke from the Other Side”, Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly, Spring, 1969.
- “Black Tenured Faculty at the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Liberal Arts Colleges, 2005” and “Black Faculty at the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Liberal Arts Colleges, 2005”, Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Research Department.
- The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. New York: October, 2003., Iss. 41; pg. 109
- The Plan for 2003, op. cit.
- Cf. Appendix D of this report, President Joanne Creighton, The Four Imperatives