University of Vermont

Former President Daniel Mark Fogel

Presidential Commissions: Status and Invitation

September 21, 2009

To The UVM Campus Community
From: Daniel Mark Fogel, President

Re: The Work of the Presidential Commissions: Status and an Invitation

The University of Vermont is committed to diversity as an indispensable component of academic excellence. Under the principles articulated in Our Common Ground, ours is a community that strives to be supportive of diversity and inclusion and of health and safety for all members of the UVM family. The University relies on the commitment of the entire community to these values. The University has also relied especially on five presidential commissions, each charged with research, monitoring, and reporting; with identifying major needs and concerns; and with making recommendations to the President on policies and programs to address those needs and concerns.

The five commissions are the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), the President’s Commission on Racial Diversity (PCRD), the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion (PCDI), the President’s Commission on Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Equity (PCLGBTE), and the President’s Commission on Social Change (PCSC). As we move into the 2009-2010 academic year, the commissions are resuming their important work, and this week I am beginning a round of meetings with the commissions to discuss their work to date and what may lie ahead. I am very grateful to the faculty, staff, and students who serve on the Commissions for their continued commitment and hard work. If you have any questions about the Presidential Commissions or if you would like to become a Commissioner, please contact Chong Kim, Assistant to the Commissions, at 656-8291, or Chong.Kim@uvm.edu.

The recommendations of the commissions have played a key role in shaping the University as we know it today. The Presidential Commissions have prompted the creation and subsequent expansion of the “blue light” phone system; the implementation of the six-credit diversity requirement; the expansion of the University’s anti-discrimination policy to include gender identity and expression; the implementation of the English Language Learners’ Initiative to support new Americans and international citizens; and the launch of the Think, Care, Act social marketing campaign to improve the health and safety of the campus community, to name just a few of many accomplishments. Very importantly, the efforts of the Presidential Commissions have helped the University to increase the enrollment of ALANA students by 87% over the last eight years (from 604 in the fall of 2002 to 1,132 this fall), paced by a doubling of undergraduate ALANA enrollment, from 428 to 862 (an increase of 101%). Recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and staff have also been enhanced through changes in the recruitment process, expansion of the faculty mentoring program, and implementation of innovative programmatic initiatives, including UVM’s participation in the Faculty Resource Network and delivery of faculty and staff development programs such as the innovative Blackboard Jungle workshops.

Over the last several years, Presidential Commissions have continued to spur many University initiatives and to inform ongoing work. In response to recommendations from the commissions, the University will be conducting a comprehensive assessment of the campus climate in 2010. I have committed enabling resources to this comprehensive effort as well as to a more tightly focused gender equity study under the auspices of the PCSW. The findings of these studies will be widely publicized so that the University as a whole can gauge the progress being made and can identify areas in need of improvement.

In advance of the completion of these assessments, the Presidential Commissions have anticipated a number of areas to be addressed, giving the University a roadmap of how certain issues may be resolved. Reports submitted by the PCRD have given the University a better sense of how to address the recruitment and retention of ethnically and racially diverse faculty and students. Recommendations submitted by the PCSW have suggested ways that the University might better address issues of gender equity, including improvements to the campus climate, to child care services, and to family leave practices. Recommendations of the PCDI have pointed to ways in which UVM may be able to improve the campus climate for persons with disabilities, for new Americans, and for individuals who have felt singled out because of their religious beliefs or backgrounds. Recommendations from the PCLGBTE have suggested ways the University might promote equity in employee benefits, curricular design, and campus climate. And University administrators from various departments continue to work together to improve the health and safety of the campus community through the implementation of initiatives recommended by the PCSC, including increased efforts to address gender-based and sexual violence

My colleagues and I are committed to being responsive to the recommendations of the Presidential Commissions and especially to implementing those that can be feasibly undertaken in the context of priorities that will be clarified through the upcoming campus climate assessment and gender equity study. I am confident that the Presidential Commissions will continue to monitor the implementation of approved initiatives and to suggest improvements as needed. I once again offer heartfelt thanks to the Presidential Commissions and to the faculty, staff and students who serve on them. I am confident that the 2009-2010 academic year will continue to see advances in our project of providing a safe, supportive environment for an increasingly diverse and inclusive community. And, again, I invite all who may be interested in participating in the work of the commissions to step forward.

Last modified September 24 2009 12:41 PM

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