I’m writing tonight to follow up on our conversations these past two days. Thank you to everyone for being so open and communicating so clearly and directly with me.
I would like to start by saying that I am truly and deeply sorry for the pain I have caused you. It was, and is, an incredible honor and privilege to be chosen to be your new dean, and I will always strive to do better, to take care of you and help you.
In our conversations I have heard something loud and clear: that while it is crucial that I listen to you and take time to understand, you are also sick of just talking about problems and want to see action – it is time for change.
It is in part because of your communications with us over the summer and these past weeks that we were able to announce this week a vital and concrete development: after the grant ends for the Coordinator for Sexual Misconduct Education and Advocacy, the university is committed to funding a permanent, full-time position. Your passion about the importance for this position was fundamental, and I thank you for sharing it with me, so I could share it with others.
As many of you know, as your new dean I have been planning to find ways to meet with you that would allow me to hear what is on your mind as well as move forward with some important goals and initiatives to change or enhance our community, including a focus on inclusivity, examinations of bias and of gender, power, and identity, and working on Title IX and sexual misconduct issues. We have had some small-group discussions on these matters, and this week had some larger community discussions about Title IX and sexual misconduct. It is time for a Westhampton-based conversation – a call for change – for students and alum. My Westhampton colleagues and I deeply wish to hear from you about concrete steps we can take, ideas you have, things that work and things that don’t, and, if you wish to share them, your personal stories. You may have told your story before, perhaps many times, but we are here to listen. As the newest member of our college, I truly want to get to know you, and all of us want to work together for change for the better, to serve you. We are committed to assessment, to change, and to action, and to partnering with our colleagues in Richmond College and across the campus to make this happen.
Please consider attending all or part of the Westhampton College Call for Change Gathering, to be held Monday, 12 September, from 6:30-8:30, in the Keller Hall Reception Room. I am grateful to the alum who have reached out to partner with us and spend time with our community. Richmond College will be holding a similar gathering on Monday afternoon, and we will work together, with peers and colleagues across the campus, to move forward.
In addition, my Westhampton colleagues and I, and in consultation with the seniors who work on Proclamation Night, have decided to postpone the event, which was to be held on the 18th of September. Reminders were supposed to go out this week, which we could not do, and we would also like the opportunity for our community to have some time to process and begin to heal. It is my hope that we can then come together for Proclamation Night as a college, and experience it in its fullness and with joy. We will announce the new date soon.
It is truly an honor to be your dean. I hope to see you Monday night.