A Message from the President

College Updates

Anti-Racist Action Plan—August 27, 2020

The following plan for academic year 2020-21 was created through an inclusive process that began with serious concerns raised by alumnae of the College about racial equity on campus.  The College’s Diversity & Inclusion Council produced a report on our progress on the goals of the action plan created by the 2015-2016 Task Force on Diversity & Inclusion. This report showed significant progress in some areas, but little progress in others.  Successes of that action plan included the hiring of a full time Director of Diversity & Inclusion, the dramatic increase in programming for students of color, the creation of the Center for Diversity and Global Engagement, and an increase in the retention rate of our students of color.

The Diversity and Inclusion Council made a series of recommendations for the next steps for the College to take to achieve its goal of providing a welcoming and equitable experience for all, especially its increasingly diverse students.  The President and her cabinet used those recommendations in its institutional goal setting process for 2020-21, and determined that the work of the 2020-21 academic year would be centered around eight broad goals, each encompassing further work being done in departments all across campus. In addition, the Faculty Council produced an action plan to address the curriculum of the College and the Athletics Department produced its own anti-racist action plan.  Those efforts are included and supported in these goals listed below:

Goal 1: Increase the diversity of faculty and staff

In a year where we will do little hiring, the priority will be to ensure that candidate pools are sufficiently diverse and that 30% of candidates are of diverse backgrounds. Interfolio will assist the search committees assembled for this work. Human Resources, the Provost and the President take primary responsibility for this work.

Goal 2: Support the faculty in their commitment to achieve a more racially and ethnically diverse curriculum

The faculty action plan for this year contains the following goals:

  1. Create and distribute a guide that faculty can use to evaluate their course content and teaching practices in order to integrate more diverse, equitable, and antiracist perspectives, and to foster greater intercultural competence in class content.
  2. Document where the curriculum is currently addressing diversity, equity, and antiracism in courses and programs. This information will identify existing strengths in the curriculum while highlighting areas where more intentional work needs to be done.
  3. Review the syllabus guidelines given to faculty members to ensure that our statement on diversity and inclusion acknowledges the value of diverse perspectives in the classroom.

Goal 3: Support, celebrate and recognize anti-racist work by faculty and staff

The Provost has committed to ensuring that the anti-racist work of faculty is addressed in annual faculty self-evaluations. The Provost also commits to the inclusion of teaching, scholarship and service that involves diversity and equity into the formal definition of faculty responsibilities and to recognizing these through tenure and promotion decisions. The Provost takes primary responsibility for this work.

Goal 4: Review our data collection processes and capacities, to support the work of ensuring equity

We will review all of our data collection processes to determine where we may need to increase our capacity to collect and analyze racial and ethnic demographic data. The Provost and the Director of Institutional Research take primary responsibility for this work.

Goal 5: Ensure the Alumnae Affairs office is equitable in its programming and outreach

The Alumnae Affairs Office has committed to creating a communications strategy that is equitable in its engagement of alumnae, to celebrating the achievements of BIPOC alumnae equitably and intentionally, and to creating chapters of alumnae for BIPOC and other alumnae who have been historically underrepresented. The Vice President for Institutional Advancement and the Director of Alumnae Affairs take primary responsibility for this goal.

Goal 6: Review campus police disaggregate data

We will evaluate trends, impact and outcomes and determine if improvements to practice can be implemented.  We will benchmark data where possible. Human Resources and the Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer take primary responsibility for this work.

Goal 7: Review financial aid policies and practices to ensure equity

Student Financial Services is collecting in one document their practices for awarding financial aid to students based upon our current merit and need based aid structures.  We will review the data and processes for equity. Student Financial Services will take primary responsibility for this work.

Goal 8: Ensure an equitable student experience on campus, in housing and through student activities

This year we will review and update housing and student policies to decrease calls to campus police, work to increase events for BIPOC students, work to create mentoring opportunities for BIPOC students, and examine historical data on discipline, expulsions, retention and persistence by race and ethnicity. The Athletics department has created its own action plan regarding the student-athlete population. This work will primarily be undertaken by the Dean of Students, the Director of Diversity & Inclusion and the Dean of Student Success.

For more information about the College’s anti-racism efforts, please visit our dedicated web page.

 

Community Message on Racial Injustice—June 4, 2020

Dear Cedar Crest Community,

On Saturday, May 30, I issued a statement via email to the internal Cedar Crest campus community regarding the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black lives taken by the systemic oppression and racism that is inherent in our country. In it, I stated that “We will not be silent in the face of injustice.” And yet, in the absence of sharing that message publicly and with our alumnae community, Cedar Crest has appeared to be just that: silent in the face of injustice. I deeply regret that.

Many in our community have reached out to me personally or posted on social media to express their feelings of frustration and anger and ask the College to take a deeper look at how it can do more to make meaningful change. I hear you and am committed to leading the College in that work.

Cedar Crest believes that Black lives matter, but also that it is not enough to say that we see our Black community, that we hear our Black community, and that we stand with our Black community. We must see in ourselves the ways we hold up systemic racism, knowingly and unknowingly, and work vigorously to dismantle them. We must listen to the Black community, but understand that it is OUR job, not theirs, to educate ourselves about the roots of racism and how to support anti-racist activism. We must stand up and march forward with a plan of action to become an institution that embodies at every level what we say we stand for.

Cedar Crest has been working toward fostering an inclusive community that recognizes and celebrates diversity over the years. But in the face of the stark effects of systemic racism that we have witnessed, it is time to recommit ourselves to that work, particularly as it relates to the ongoing and indefensible threat to Black lives. This will take time and unwavering commitment. There are steps we can take immediately and others that will take longer to implement to support and advance the changes needed to end racism in our communities, country, and world:

The history of injustice that these recent tragedies have brought to a tipping point, set against the backdrop of a pandemic that has disproportionately affected people of color, is painful and distressing. As a community, we grieve together and support one another. You are not alone.

No matter how hard or uncomfortable, the mission and vision of Cedar Crest College demand that we, as stewards of that mission, commit to doing this work and sustaining it. Let’s get started.

Elizabeth M. Meade, PhD
President, Cedar Crest College



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