Presidential Statement

President Finney As you are aware, one of the five overall goals in our Champlain 2020 Strategic Plan is to Foster an Inclusive and Diverse Community. Many of you have played a key part in getting us to where we are today, and we thank you for all of your contributions. Having said that, we did see opportunities for improvement, overall, and in the role that The Cabinet can play in supporting the efforts. Our facilitators observed that the portion of our goal that deals with diversity is the more concrete and easily adopted aspect while inclusion is, and will remain, an ongoing journey — never complete and never entirely sufficiently well done.

Certainly Champlain has made significant strides with respect to diversity. Over the past several years entering classes have evidenced greater levels of geographic diversity than we have ever seen. This fall's entering class saw a significant increase in the percentage of the class that are women. Recent entering classes have also brought progressively greater levels of racial and ethnic diversity than we have ever seen at Champlain. These three aspects of diversity are all trending appropriately and need to continue. Similar gains have been made in diversifying our faculty and staff ranks.

At the same time, we are continuously becoming more diverse related to populations that are not as visible and we need to build process and metrics on how to assess the Champlain experience of these individuals and groups. Progress in making Champlain a highly inclusive community is — and, perhaps, always will be — a more difficult goal to ascertain. At the same time inclusion is essential to our success. We know if we are going to create a space for students, faculty and staff to grow, learn and thrive, each person must first feel safe and welcome. In the end, diversity and inclusion compliment one another and sustaining this effort relies heavily on having a strong focus on both components. Though our current plan does have initiatives related to creating a more inclusive climate, we are certain that we need more here. We also saw opportunities for The Cabinet to contribute at higher levels to our diversity and inclusion efforts. There are a number of things that grew out of this discussion, the most important of which are listed below in our next steps. As our meeting was drawing to a close it seemed appropriate to all of us that we share our discussion with you about how we can make progress on our goal and, in particular, on those objectives related to making Champlain more inclusive. To that end we decided to undertake the following steps:

  • The Cabinet will meet with the Chief Diversity Officer and members of the Diversity Council to make sure that we are in sync regarding strategies for success, and that The Cabinet is playing a strong complimentary role to all of the individuals and groups focused on diversity and inclusion.
  • Cabinet members will take the IDI battery to locate ourselves in our current state of inclusion, both as a group and individually. This is already underway.
  • We will develop a stronger focus on inclusion and build a richer set of initiatives, including the identification of what else is needed for faculty and staff beyond Intercultural University (IU) to make progress. As you might imagine, it was an active discussion. We very much look forward to working with you on successfully realizing our Diversity and Inclusion goal.