Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

The important work of the Campus Climate Task Force has led to a good and growing dialogue across campus, and I write to update you on our latest steps to identify formal recommendations most likely to benefit our campus climate. I have appreciated the energy and ideas so many students, faculty and staff are giving to the extensive campus discussions on these matters. Our work has only begun, but the engagement of the entire campus is essential to improving our campus climate.

Thus far, in addition to the valuable informal dialogue, the following formal conversations about the task force’s report and our campus climate have occurred

  •  Two open student forums at the Weis Center, one I hosted and one Bucknell Student Government hosted and each which drew about 700 students.
  •  Three lunch discussions hosted by the Teaching and Learning Center, which drew more than 100 faculty each time.
  •  A faculty meeting devoted to the task force’s report and the campus climate.
  •  Provost Mick Smyer, Dean of Students Susan Lantz, and I have hosted or joined various meetings with a range of student organizations, including IFC, Pan-Hel, BSG, BSU, individual fraternity and sorority chapters, sessions involving Greek letter and non-Greek-letter organizations, and more.

I have also discussed the report in detail with the Board of Trustees, the Alumni Board, and the Parents Board. All have unequivocally affirmed their determination to improve our campus climate. We also have welcomed the feedback of all alumni and parents, and continue to share the report with anyone who would like to read it.

As you know, I have charged Provost Smyer and Dean Lantz  not only to lead this broad campus dialogue about the task force report, but also to present to me in April a range of promising initiatives to strengthen our campus community. Toward this end, they have identified six committees that will assume a critically important role in bringing forward these recommendations.

The committees are organized around  the campus climate report’s topic areas and have been charged with developing goals that can have immediate, short-term and long-term impact.   Each committee will consist of students, faculty and staff, and will examine the campus climate report, best practices of peer institutions,  national trends, and ideas gained from their conversations with students, faculty and staff to improve the campus climate in each area. The committees will keep one another informed on their work so that every committee can benefit from each group’s emerging ideas.

Each group’s recommendations – including measurable outcomes, action steps, and assessment plans to assist in reaching those goals – will be presented to Provost Smyer and Dean Lantz in April, and they will then provide final recommendations to me.  We will keep you informed throughout this process, and the individual committees will be reaching out to students and colleagues for involvement in their deliberations.

We are grateful to the faculty, staff and students who have agreed to serve on these committees. The first three committees already exist on campus but are now taking on this special charge, while the latter three committees are newly formed specifically for this work. The committees are

  •  The President’s Council on Diversity
  •  The Coalition for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response
  •  The Committee on Instruction’s Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Student Engagement
  •  The Committee for a Better Fraternity and Sorority Community
  •  The  Committee on Student Leadership Development
  •  The Committee for the Strengthening of Our Residential Community

We anticipate that the committees will have resource requests, suggestions for current policies and practices, and other questions related to creating meaningful change in our climate.  Therefore we have asked the President’s Operations and Management Group, the Faculty Council, the University Committee on Campus and Student Life, and Bucknell Student Government to be prepared to assist the committees working on these six goals in the areas of policy change and resource allocation. We appreciate the commitment of these groups to a better campus climate.

In addition to the work of the six committees, Provost Smyer and Dean Lantz are strategically addressing staffing resources, and have begun to create a plan for new and restructured staffing within student life that addresses related issues raised in the CCTF Report.  This plan will be available in April as well. Meanwhile, we will soon begin repurposing the previously undeveloped space behind the student lounge in the ELC opposite the Bison, and will be turning that space into offices for the staff within student life who address the various sectors of our diverse community. This space will makes these offices more accessible to all students, and will underscore their essential role in the life of our student community.

We continue to encourage all faculty, staff and students to provide their feedback on the task force’s report and campus climate to us. These contributions will be shared with the above committees wherever relevant to their work. Personnel can share ideas anonymously through the Our Bucknell Suggestion Box at  http://my.bucknell.edu/ourbucknell.html , and students can do so anonymously at the Student Suggestion Box at  http://my.bucknell.edu/studentsuggestions . Anyone can reach Provost Smyer and Dean Lantz on this subject via  campusclimate@bucknell.edu .

Thank you for your important personal role in the quality of our campus climate and the future climate we create. Excellent institutions get stronger only through confronting their challenges.

Some Bucknellians have asked me, understandably, if there is any risk to the reputation of Bucknell by this openness. My simple answer is that today in America these problems are unfortunately common, and that as a result there are basically only two kinds of universities: those that have problems like these and hope they go away, and those that confront them openly. I know from talking with many of you, with parents, and with our alumni which institutions we all would most want to attend or entrust with our child. In the end, thanks to your involvement in this open dialogue, this great University, which makes us all proud in so many ways, will become even better.

Sincerely,

John

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