September 9, 2009
To Members of the Smith Community:
I am writing to provide an update on the way in which I plan to focus on diversity issues this year. Many of you will remember that, as part of the budget reduction plan that we developed last year, we decided to take a two-year pause in filling the position of Director of Institutional Diversity after Naomi Miller completed her term. In the interim, I have assigned the responsibilities of the position in the following way: Adrianne Andrews, with the new title, Adviser for Equity Complaints, is available for informal discussion and mediation of any concerns or complaints about equity issues; she is also the director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. Serena Harris, a human resources specialist, will serve as the college’s affirmative action officer; she is responsible for approval of all staff searches. Jennifer Walters will serve as Assistant to the President for Diversity and Equity, with responsibility for community diversity initiatives and programming. Laura Rauscher, the Director of Disability Services, now works through the Class Deans Office. You can find a description of the college’s resources devoted to diversity and equity on the following Web page: www.smith.edu/diversity.
I intend to use this year to assess our goals and progress in regard to diversity at Smith. To assist me in that goal, I have appointed a Diversity Council, which I am chairing. Its members are Adrianne Andrews, Adviser for Equity Complaints; Maggie Chesnut '10, SGA diversity chair; Serena Harris, Human Resources Specialist and Affirmative Action Officer ; Dawn Fulton, Associate Professor of French Studies, faculty representative; Carolyn Jacobs, Dean of the School for Social Work; Laura Rauscher, Director of Disability Services; L'Tanya Richmond, Director of Multicultural Affairs; Hrayr Tamzarian, the Associate Dean for International Students; Jennifer Walters, Dean of Religious Life and Assistant to the President for Diversity and Equity; and a member of Staff Council, yet to be named.
An important starting point for our work is the Common Ground project, whose charge was to develop strategic initiatives in support of diversity at Smith. You can read the Common Ground report at www.smith.edu/oid/commonground. As a result both of the Common Ground project and of related initiatives, the college has many programs and activities focusing on aspects of diversity. We will review our programs to ask ourselves whether they are coordinated in the best possible way and whether gaps exist that we should fill.
We will devote the first meeting of the Campus Climate Open Forum on September 30 from 12-1 to a community discussion of our goals for the year. I hope to get community advice both about goals and about measures of success.
I look forward to our first community discussion on September 30 and to a year of important work for the college. We will address diversity in many ways in the coming year, both through established programs such as Otelia Cromwell Day as well as new opportunities.
Carol T. Christ