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Thursday, September 19, 2019

CLA Indigenous Staff and Staff of Color Community

The CLA Indigenous Staff and Staff of Color Community (ISSCC) has been a tremendous addition to the college. You can read more about it at the link. Supervisors, please ensure that you are making it possible for staff to participate in the Community. The ISSCC vision statement states: “We want to help advance the college’s goal of cultivating a welcoming and respectful climate in its diverse intellectual community. Through a grassroots effort, we initiated the CLA Indigenous Staff & Staff of Color Community. In so doing, we strive to make CLA a destination college not only for students and faculty, but also for Indigenous staff and staff of color.” I consider ISSCC fundamental to our work as a college and the participation of our staff in ISSCC activities to be vital.

“Sexism in the Academy”

Harvard postdoc Troy Vettese has written a detailed essay exploring numerous patterns of disparate outcomes for female and male faculty. The essay explores a wide range of issues from the societal to the institutional, disciplinary, departmental, and individual. At the level of individual, the essay joins other analyses in noting the problem of differentials in letters of recommendation: “Scholars’ enthusiasm for male protégés extends into graduate school and beyond. One study found that referees tended to write shorter and less keen recommendation letters for their female protégées and were less likely to comment on the quality of their research. While another study of recommendation letters for men and women applying to faculty positions at medical schools discovered no marked difference in the length of letters written for men and women, male protégés were much more likely to be bestowed “standout” compliments.” You need not agree with the persuasiveness of the evidence for every argument in this lengthy essay, but there is nonetheless much to be gained by reading it. I encourage you to read the essay and hope it will generate discussion among faculty. Reminder: in past monthly memos, I shared with you a tool to evaluate your letters of recommendation and also a tool developed by Assistant Professor of Political Science Jane Sumner to evaluate gender and racial balance in your syllabi.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Building an ever-stronger culture of teaching

(Excerpt from the State of the College address, September 10, 2019)

Teaching obviously plays a large role in defining the experiences of our almost 14 thousand undergraduate and sixteen-hundred graduate students. While striving for research excellence is understandably first of mind for us as scholars, and the relentless pursuit of research and creative excellence is a core pillar of the CLA Roadmap, it’s as teachers that we have the most direct impact on our students.

Our students benefit from being taught by the world’s leading researchers. As a student, it matters that you are taking your classes with the people who are writing the articles and the books and creating the art, not just assigning the articles, books, and art. It matters that you may have an opportunity to engage in research and creative work with those scholars. So we offer our students something special in that regard.

Addressing the opportunity and achievement gap in CLA

(Excerpt from the State of the College address, September 10, 2019)

Nearly a third of CLA’s students are the first in their families to attend college. About a fifth are Pell-grant-eligible. Around 40 percent of our population is made up of transfer students, who are on the whole more ethnically and racially diverse, more low to lower-middle income, and more first generation than students joining us directly from high school.

College is supposed to be rigorous, challenging, and even unsettling. There will be setbacks that you have to overcome. That’s part of a college education. We expect that all of our students will have those experiences, and, in some respects, we want them to have and learn from those experiences.

Civic Readiness Initiative to promote productive dialogue

(Excerpt from State of the College address, September 10, 2019)

For the past five years, we have been deeply engaged in CLA on our Career Readiness Initiative. In addition to expanded career services and employer relations led by our terrific Career Services team, we’ve set the standard for thoughtful ways to integrate career readiness into the lives of our students from Day One. Our departments have been involved in career readiness, and we have engaged our alumni in numerous ways in this work, including an outstanding series of “We are Liberal Arts” video profiles.

Our work -- which emphasizes student acquisition of ten Core Career Competencies; has students engaging in the Reflect, Articulate, Translate, and Evaluate process to map their liberal arts experiences in and out of the classroom; and involves faculty through the Faculty Fellows program and in other ways -- has generated great interest around the country. Thank you to Associate Dean Ascan Koerner, Professor and Career Readiness Faculty Director Amy Lee, and Career Readiness Director Judy Anderson for your leadership.

Those of us in CLA always knew that a liberal arts education prepares students well for successful and meaningful careers, so we were working from a strong foundation. But we also knew that there was a negative narrative about the liberal arts and career opportunities that we needed to respond to. We wanted to advocate and not apologize for the liberal arts, and we wanted to be on offense and not defense. Our Career Readiness Initiative did exactly that. It has enabled students and employers to see the connections between liberal arts education and great career outcomes more clearly. Rather than deficit thinking, our Initiative has been premised on -- and helped students recognize -- the many strengths they bring to the table, what we call their Liberal Arts Advantage.

In the same way, we in the liberal arts believe we prepare students for lives of civic and community engagement. But here, too, like with career readiness, we can take steps to help students build skills and see the connections between their education and the next stage of their lives as civic participants. And here, too, we know there are some challenges.

Financial update from State of the College address

(Excerpt from the State of the College address, September 10, 2019)

Advancing on our new and continuing priorities is dependent on resources, so I’d like to give you a quick overview of where we finished the fiscal year and what we’re looking at in the year to come.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

State of the College 2019

In this year's State of the College address, I discussed initiatives around civic readiness, the achievement and opportunity gap, and a culture of teaching. In addition, the address touched on some of our ongoing projects and initiatives, a fiscal update, and some highlights and accomplishments of the past year. You can read my remarks here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Gains in undergraduate student diversity

In fall 2018, the undergraduate African American student population in CLA exceeded 1000 students for the first time, with 1,040 students. That number represented an improvement of 38% since fall 2014. Hispanic student enrollment reached 670 students, up 44% since fall 2014. Asian student enrollment increased 20% over that time period, to nearly 1,610 students. And American Indian student enrollment was at about 225, an improvement of 9%. Thank you to everyone who works hard to recruit and retain American Indian students and students of color in CLA, a key objective of the CLA Roadmap. Note: the counts in this post are based on University data on students’ self-identified primary race or ethnicity, including when multiple-racial/ethnic designations were selected.