May 3, 2016 - Message to students, faculty and staff

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SIU students, faculty and staff:

Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s goal is to provide a welcoming campus where all of our students, faculty and staff can study and work in a respectful, positive environment free from racism and intimidation.

Clearly, we have much work to do to build understanding and respect, and it will take the entire community – administrators, students, faculty and staff – to move forward. We have all heard the calls for change, and we must respond in partnership.

The following initiatives, some of which have already been announced, are first steps in a larger conversation and effort. We will move forward on most of these steps during the summer so we do not lose momentum.

In order to improve the climate of our campus, we will:

  • Establish a campus-wide diversity council drawing from all of our constituencies, including students. As chancellor, I will consult with campus stakeholders regarding structure and approach with the goal of appointing a diversity council by fall 2016.
  • Work with the council to develop a long-term diversity plan that reflects and advances our historical mission and commitment to inclusive excellence. We will consult with campus stakeholders regarding structure and approach with the goal of developing a plan during the 2016-17 academic year.
  • Welcome efforts of deans to develop college-based advisory groups or diversity representatives. The provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs will engage deans in this conversation immediately.
  • Invite faculty to explore the most effective ways to integrate cultural diversity into the curriculum. The provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs will begin this conversation with appropriate academic bodies during or before fall 2016.
  • Conduct campus climate surveys so that we can better understand and respond to the issues facing our students, faculty and staff. The associate chancellor for institutional diversity will implement the surveys in fall 2016.
  • Explore training options that engage students, faculty and staff in what it means to be part of a diverse society. The associate chancellor for institutional diversity will explore and recommend next steps for implementing training in the 2016-17 academic year.
  • Expand and promote conversations and workshops that focus on the importance of understanding, valuing and respecting diversity. The Center for Inclusive Excellence and Office of Diversity and Equity, working with other offices on campus, have already added programming and will launch additional new programs in fall 2016.

In order to better support all of our students, we will:

  • Consult with students and others on the resources and support they need related to diversity and culture as well as on ways we can better promote existing resources that inform and engage students. The vice chancellor for student affairs will work with student groups and other campus offices with a goal of identifying and promoting resources for students for the fall 2016 semester.
  • Build on existing efforts to incorporate cultural awareness into orientation for new students. The Office of New Student Programs is charged with taking initial steps now and expanding them in the future.
  • Support students, student leaders and registered student organizations in their efforts to build and contribute to campus unity. The vice chancellor for student affairs will reach out to students to begin this conversation immediately.
  • Better communicate the multiple avenues students have to report incidents of discrimination, intimidation and threats. The vice chancellor for student affairs will work with multiple offices to incorporate this information into communications with all students as soon as possible.
  • Review the Student Conduct Code and ensure that it adequately addresses discrimination and intimidation. The vice chancellor for student affairs has started this process with the goal of implementing necessary updates by the fall semester.

In order to ensure that our faculty and staff better reflect the diversity of our community, we will:

  • Implement and confirm mandatory training for search committees to ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities for seeking and hiring qualified candidates from a range of backgrounds. The associate vice chancellor for institutional diversity will implement training by fall 2016.
  • Review hiring processes and timelines to ensure that we do not lose candidates to other institutions due to unnecessary delays. The vice chancellor for finance and administration will consult with appropriate offices and recommend changes; approved changes will be implemented by fall 2016.
  • When hiring for dean and upper administrative positions, we will include demonstrated knowledge, skills and abilities in diversity and cultural competency among the preferred requirements. The associate chancellor for institutional diversity will include these requirements for all newly advertised senior positions effective immediately.
  • Limit the use of “waivers” (direct appointments without a search) for permanent senior positions. The associate chancellor for institutional diversity will implement this practice effective immediately.
  • Build greater awareness of existing programs and resources that support the hiring of diverse faculty. The associate chancellor for institutional diversity will ensure that all academic hiring units are aware of these resources as soon as possible.

SIU embraces its tradition of access, opportunity and inclusive excellence. Many people across campus have contributed to the work that has earned us four consecutive Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Awards for initiatives supporting all aspects of diversity: gender, race, ethnicity, veterans, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ community. But we must do more, and we must do it together.

Again, these are only first steps that will take us closer to being a community that is welcoming and respectful to all who come here. I thank you for taking these steps with us.

Sincerely,

Brad Colwell
Interim Chancellor