Advancing Inclusive Excellence

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past few weeks, in addition to my regular and standing meetings, I've had the opportunity to meet with the Associated Students of Saint Mary's College, the Celebrating Diversity Committee, faculty, Trustees, Regents, Advisory Board members, alumni, individual students, Brothers, staff members and administrators of color and consultants. The conversations have often been intense, and they have always been energizing.

We all share a commitment to the education of our students, and we have been thinking boldly and creatively about how to ensure their success. This commitment has driven the renewal and repositioning of the Celebrating Diversity Committee (CDC) to become the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CCIE), proposed by the CDC and accepted by President Brother Ronald Gallagher.

The CCIE will advance the accountability and visibility of campus efforts toward building inclusive excellence. This committee will include Cabinet members, senior administrators, and staff, student and faculty leaders. Its work will focus on three goals: 1) Improving the recruitment, retention and success of underrepresented students, staff and faculty; 2) Building inclusive community; and 3) Developing systems of accountability and assessment. Achieving these goals may require strategies such as training in inclusive recruiting and cultural competencies for all campus constituents, professional development for faculty in teaching and learning with diverse populations, mentoring programs for staff and faculty, procedures for handling incidents of intolerance and discrimination, assessment of the diversity requirement in our curriculum, and the development of programs and structures to promote student success.

The potential of our community to achieve these goals is clear, and our capacity for learning from difference is considerable. Although we may temporarily draw from select consultants, we have the talent here, on campus and in our alumni and friends, to accomplish the tasks and cultivate the kind of environment called for by our mission. Over the next few weeks, we will continue to develop a common language and move toward shared strategies in our pursuit of inclusive excellence.

Toward that end, I invite you to a "Pathways to Inclusion" planning forum on Thursday, May 8, from 1:30-3 p.m. in the Soda Center. For community members who cannot attend the forum but would like to participate in our planning, we have created an electronic "Commitment Center." If you would like to recognize existing efforts to create an inclusive campus community, or if you have particular areas of expertise that you would like to lend to this college-wide effort, please consider posting your ideas and contact information. Our work over the coming week will inform the priorities and actions of the CCIE over the next months and year, and will lead to a draft plan for implementation to be presented to our community and Board of Trustees by the end of the month.

At last week's convocation, Brother Jose Cervantes remarked that truth "is not found in the clarity of a single vision, but in the intricate road of various partial notions, in the confrontation between diverse theories, and in the use of all kinds of tools…." As we move forward on our path to inclusion, we will build "faith in our capacity to search for the truth together, and, as a consequence, the possibility to build a common house where we can find and recognize ourselves and recognize others."

I look forward to hearing from you.