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Message from President Hill to the Campus Community, December 2, 2014

This is a challenging time for our community, with a number of important issues being raised related to the climate on our campus. We strongly believe in a community that supports all of our students, faculty, and staff, and we are committed to doing all that we can to achieve that goal.

As part of these ongoing efforts, I would like to propose a number of opportunities for members of the community to share their concerns and opinions and participate in discussions that I believe can improve the experience for everyone on campus.

First, a reminder that there is a forum this evening in the Villard Room at 7 pm at which Steven Healy will present the findings and recommendations resulting from his firm's review of Vassar's Safety and Security department and operations.  The college contracted with Margolis Healy to undertake this study last spring in response to concerns about racial profiling. They have been working with the college throughout this semester, including meeting with students, faculty, and alumnae/i.  I know that many in the community have invested time and effort in this study and are anxious to engage in a discussion of the recommendations.

I also would like to announce the appointment of a coordinating group to help facilitate and monitor the implementation of Margolis Healy's recommendations.  This group will include administrators in the Dean of the College area and senior administrators who have been working on campus climate issues, plus the faculty, students, and administrators on the Safety and Security advisory committee, and two additional students appointed by the VSA.

Because there are other campus issues we know members of the community want to discuss, beginning tomorrow Dean Roellke and I will be making specific hours available to meet with small groups of students.  We have been meeting throughout the semester with members of the sophomore class in groups of 10 to 25 and this has proven to be a productive model for hearing student concerns and questions. Students who would like to meet with us can contact Katie Bell (kabell, x5600) to schedule a time.  We also will be making hours available after the semester break for those who prefer that timing.

On Monday, December 8, the Campus Life and Diversity staff will be holding a facilitated dialogue for students on campus climate from 6:30 to 8 pm.  The location will be announced by email. I hope many of you will be able to take advantage of this opportunity.

Several members of the Board of Trustees will be here before the end of the semester to meet with interested members of the community on campus issues.  I will confirm the date and other details in the next couple of days.

We also will be sponsoring a series of town hall-style meetings on specific topics. Some of the topic suggestions have come from the meetings Dean Roellke and I have had with sophomores, and others have been on students' minds more broadly.  Among the topics we plan to address are the curriculum, Title IX policies and procedures, sexual assault  prevention, a campus safety and security follow-up, the allocation of resources for student services, and campus climate issues related to identity. We welcome your thoughts on these and other topics.

I think that these ongoing discussions, where we can listen and speak with one another frankly, and search for solutions that work for the community, are the only way to assure that we can make progress. I look forward to talking with many of you soon.  Until then, please feel free to reach out with other ideas or concerns.

Catharine Hill
President