Letter to Champlain Community In Response to Recent Events - 2014

Don Lackman

December 16, 2014

Dear Champlain Community: 

As the semester and calendar year come to an end, I am reflecting on the many conversations and questions about recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island. As an institution of higher education committed to graduating globally engaged citizens, we have a responsibility to foster dialogue and create space in our community on issues of diversity, race and violence. 

I appreciate recent conversations I have had with Dylan Cullen, President of the Student Government Association, and Ame Lambert, our Chief Diversity Officer, on how Champlain College should respond to these events. In addition, I have consulted with the Cabinet on how we honor our commitment to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all members of our community where people can discuss the complex issues raised by recent events. As a result of these discussions, I wanted to make you aware of the events we will sponsor over the course of the spring semester to provide multiple spaces for conversation, critical reflection, and dialogue. 

The spring semester events will include: 

  • Jan. 16, 3:30  p.m.: We will host a space for remarks, dialogue and reflection. Laurie Quinn, our Provost, Dylan Cullen, Ame Lambert and I will participate in this event. All are invited. 

  • Jan. 30: Ame Lambert will lead a mini symposium in honor of Martin Luther King Day featuring a keynote and a presentation by Champlain's Men of Color group (The Quest at Champlain) that will bring their lens to national events and speak about their experiences and needs on campus. 

  • February: We are hosting a documentary screening of Crips and Bloods: Made in America and a conversation about society and violence in inner city community.
  • February: We will host a community workshop facilitated by Community Change, Inc. focused on dismantling systems that create inequity. 

  • April: Ame Lambert will lead a conversation about climate (featuring themes raised in listening groups with a variety of identity groups and steps the institution is taking going forward) 

We anticipate and support other conversations and events that may be added by groups across campus.  I am proud to be part of an institution with many natural academic spaces for the conversation - criminal justice, legal studies, media studies, and social work among them. I am also proud that students, faculty, and staff across the institution are making spaces for the conversations. 

Champlain College is committed to creating dialogue for understanding about inclusion and equality. We have also committed to helping our students be critical thinkers and ethical actors. We take these commitments seriously and will continue to work on making these goals a reality. 

Best wishes for a rejuvenating break and I look forward to continuing the conversation in the Spring. 


Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit champlain.edu.