A Vision for the President's Council on Diversity and Community
As a residential learning community that is committed to developing our students intellectually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually and thereby preparing them for lives of useful service in a complex, diverse, and changing world, we recognize that the quality of our community life is vital to achieving our mission. We must express, celebrate, and defend the highest values that support and enhance a residential learning community, and we must also directly confront words and deeds that undermine our highest aspirations.
In our vision statement, we say that we aspire "to attract students who have the capacity and desire to be engaged members of a supportive and caring learning community." We further note that "we aim to educate individuals of integrity who possess intellectual competencies and personal qualities that will enable them to take up positions of leadership and service whatever their chosen fields and thereby add to the richness, diversity, and welfare of our global society."
We are also a community that places great value on academic and intellectual freedom. In this context, we proudly proclaim a commitment to truth and justice in the following language: "We affirm that the search for knowledge should not be separated from the search for wise and just solutions in human affairs and in the conservation of the natural world. The combined pursuit of truth and justice means we honor, nurture, and celebrate human diversity in all its forms and call into question whatever negates or endangers the dignity and worth of the human spirit."
Recognizing that our vision is dependent on the quality and richness of our learning community, we have put in place a variety of policies, procedures, strategies, and practices that are designed to support our aspirations and our values. We expect members of our community to conform to the values that support our vision. We have in place a variety of methods for addressing actions that fail to meet our standards.
Recognizing, however, the potential for individuals and a community as a whole to avoid addressing difficult matters of human relations and values, particularly around issues related to diversity, the president routinely seeks appropriate counsel from community members in both formal and informal ways. An important way in which the president and other senior staff members can be assured of receiving such counsel is to create an advisory group that represents faculty, staff, and students and through its diversity is able to bring a wide variety of perspectives to issues of diversity and the quality of our community life.
Accordingly, I am establishing the President's Council on Diversity and Community. It is my intention that the Council will function primarily as an advisory group that will meet at least three times each year with the president and his senior officers to advise us on issues related to diversity and community and propose initiatives that could enhance our capacity to achieve our aspirations in this area.
The Council will be comprised of members of the faculty, staff, and students, each with a two-year term of service. In the first year of its operation, I will invite several former members of the Council on Social Equality and a few other new members to serve for a one-year term. In this way, the group will change about half of its term membership each year. This will assure a steady stream of diverse perspectives and help broaden awareness of the issues faced by the Council and bring fresh ideas for addressing these issues.
As a presidential advisory group, it is not appropriate to create a separate budget for this group. For example, the Albright Continuous Improvement Team (ACIT) has no formal budget, but I doubt that anyone would suggest this group has not had a substantial impact on the quality of our community and effectiveness of our operations. I will, however, carefully consider thoughtful proposals from the Council on Diversity and Community that may require funding and will support those ideas as funds allow. The president's office will support the ordinary operating costs of the Council, including items such as printing, supplies, and refreshments for meetings.
Several members of the community should be continuing members of the Council by virtue of their office. These include the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, the Associate Vice President and Director of Human Resources, the Director of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, and the College Chaplain. Each Vice President will be invited to appoint at least one other member of the Council. I will take counsel from the senior officers and others in making other appointments. I will seek at least three faculty members, including no less than one each from the several academic divisions of the College, to serve on the Council.
September 6, 2007