CMC announces Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and the Black Experience in America

Dear CMC Community:

In response to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and the persistent patterns of anti-Black racism, I write to express both my strongest personal support and the institution’s fullest commitment to our Black students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees. This extends to all Black Americans and all who are committed to the full and equal promise of our nation’s constitutionally protected freedoms.

I want to thank all of you for your insightful contributions, forceful statements, and constructive dialogue. This is a humbling, self-critical learning moment for me and for many of us. We reflect on our progress and recognize the gaps between our commitments and the realities faced by Black Americans within our own institution and the society more broadly.

We must all affirm that Black lives matter. Not only in our speech but also in what we do. We can’t rely solely on those who bear the burdens of racism. We can’t return casually to the old educational playbook of more endless studies, ineffective programs, and unmeasurable goals.

Most of all, we must develop a fresh vision, strategy, action plan, and accountable measures for how best to reinforce our values in action: through our behavior, our relationships, our community, our country. This means reimagining the future and charting the roadmap for getting there, together.

This is a moment for leadership to give greater resolve and focus to our collective efforts.

With this in mind, I’d like to introduce you to a new Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and the Black Experience in America commencing in the 2020-2021 academic year (the “Initiative”). By June 2021, the Initiative will develop a long-term, structural, integrated educational response to racism, inequality, and inequity.

I have charged Matthew Bibbens, Vice President for Administration and Planning, General Counsel, and Secretary of the College; Nyree Gray, Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Civil Rights Officer; Dianna Graves, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students; and Professor Shana Levin, Associate Dean of the Faculty to lead the first phase of the Initiative this summer. They will seek your thoughts and suggestions to a number of action steps (outlined below) that we plan to develop over the course of this summer and the fall and spring semesters. They will also report back on our progress by early September 2020 when we will also expand community involvement in our leadership team.

Before you review the early details, I want to emphasize four key commitments that will drive our priorities.

This is a shared responsibility within our College community—embedded and pervasive, personal, professional, collective. We learn best when we own it.

This is a learning experience, not just something to be studied, but a set of skills, fluencies, and capabilities we commit to support and develop in each member of our community. We learn by doing.

This is a fully integral educational response, not a separate department or center. Change is effective when centrally embedded in our daily work.

This is about outcomes, not just studies, plans, and investments. We commit to action and to developing a dashboard capable of accounting for our measured success or failure. What’s measured gets done.

In the CMC way, let’s take on this challenge. Not just to support our Black community, but to expand it. Not just to study racism, but to find effective ways to end it.

That is how we seize this defining moment in our history.

Please join us.

Thanks in advance, be well, and very best,

Hiram


CMC Anti-Racism Initiative logo

Mission

This Initiative advances the College's fundamental mission to prepare students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership. Thus, the Initiative will be a top institutional priority for the College, commencing academic year 2020-2021 and continuing until we have developed a community that no longer needs the Initiative.

We own the promise of this moment to fulfill longstanding commitments to an inclusive community that enriches the value of the CMC experience for all students, staff, and faculty. This means doing the hard work of self-critical reflection. This means all of us learning through discomfort that only some of us have to experience on a daily basis. This means recognizing that we cannot have meaningful discussions about racism and the Black experience in America without the presence of more Black faculty, students, and staff in our community.

Learning Experience

This is the moment for us to demonstrate our commitment to addressing complex problems. This cannot be limited to the study of racism. We must all develop the behavioral commitments, ethical courage, and effective strategies to empower members of our community to combat racism. In collaboration with our own experts, leaders, and colleagues, topics and programs include:

  • Intergroup Dialogue Training for expanding skills and capacities for learning and collaborating across differences in solving complex societal problems;
  • Institutes, Centers, and Labs: Research Support for Combatting Racism;
  • CMC Public Safety: Our Shared Covenant to Respect and Protect;
  • Anti-Racism in Athletics: CMS - Committed to the Inclusion of Every Athlete;
  • Combatting Racism, including Anti-Blackness, in the Classroom;
  • Athenaeum, CARE, Dean of Students, and other programs, combined with community learning circles for students, staff, faculty, alumni, board members, and college leadership to read various literary texts, will engage in effective dialogues on racism and the Black experience; and
  • A branded web and social media series developed by Public Affairs that involves the CMC community and highlights effective dialogues on race, diverse scholarship, and the Black student experience on campus and highlights students, staff, and faculty engaged in leadership roles in combatting racism and advancing equality.

Student Support and Opportunity

CMC has dedicated resources over the past several years to transform the student experience. We have expanded the number of staff in the Dean of Students Office in order to better serve the needs of our students. We have broadened access to mental health and support resources. We have increased financial aid and funding to support student opportunities.

We are committed to build on these programs in order to develop a more visible and effective level of direct support to Black students, students of color, and all students desiring to address racism and systemic violations of civil rights and structures of oppression. We know these efforts will result in a better experience for all students and a richer learning environment.

Examples include:

  • The Dean of the Faculty's Office, Dean of Students Office, Registrar, and the Office of Civil Rights will develop and implement an even more proactive model of academic advising that will provide more guidance in such areas as course selection, access to resources, and scheduling;
  • The College will elevate our current Title IX Coordinator position to Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion/Title IX Administrator, an expanded role that will build on individual student retention efforts from the time of admission to CMC through graduation, maintain Title IX oversight, and provide strengthened capacity to the Office of Civil Rights;
  • The Dean of the Faculty's Office will institute a summer program to support the successful transition to college by helping entering students learn the full range of demands and expectations at CMC;
  • The Soll Center for Student Opportunity will allocate financial support through the Summer Internship Experience (SIE) program for summer research, internship experiences, and advisor support for projects and papers in the areas of combatting racism and structural inequality; and
  • The Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement will develop more opportunities for Black community engagement by connecting Black students and families with our alumni, faculty, staff, and trustees.

Faculty and Curricular Development

At the heart of the academic experience is the curriculum and our faculty and student research opportunities, research institutes, centers, and labs. CMC is uniquely positioned to address systemic issues because of the strength of our applied research opportunities. We have the ability to engage in larger societal challenges while addressing our internal obstacles as well. We will work together with departments to expand the opportunity to recruit Black faculty and learn about structural inequities and challenges that will guide our solutions. CMC is committed to providing increasing levels of support for faculty and students to teach, learn, research, and lead in the study and practice of structural and policy reform. Financially supported commitments include:

  • The Dean of the Faculty, with support from the Board of Trustees, will fund a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow each year for the next 5 years and fulfill the commitments of current grant funding;
  • The Associate Dean of the Faculty will focus the collaborations of our institutes, centers, and labs on the challenges of creating change in structures of inequality through Project 20/20, with demonstrated efforts to be included as part of each annual report. Collaborations across research centers and labs will be highly encouraged in order to provide depth to the analysis of systemic inequities across various dimensions, such as health, human rights, environmental, political, and financial disparities;
  • The Dean of the Faculty will recognize demonstrated leadership in developing anti–racism pedagogy, programming, and applied learning experiences for students;
  • The College will commit additional funding to position advertising, recruitment efforts, and retention support to help departments recruit diverse faculty on all levels: visiting, scholars-in-residence, tenure track, and tenured faculty to CMC;
  • A dedicated, trained member on every search committee will focus on and report diversity and inclusion efforts and achievements in the search and hiring process;
  • The Dean of the Faculty will support expanded research and curricular offerings on the study of structural inequality, racism, and the Black experience in America as an institutional learning priority and objective; and
  • The College will offer annual skills workshops in intergroup dialogue, anti-bias training, and anti-racism education.

Staff Development

Staff are central to the way students experience CMC. All members of our community must have the capacity to engage in a manner that demonstrates commitment, fluency, and strong capabilities to address matters of race, and diversity and inclusion more generally. Direct support will be provided to staff for professional and program development. Some examples here:

  • Professional development for staff in the area of promoting respect, inclusion, and racial bias awareness in the workplace;
  • Annual study and experiential workshops for the College leadership (the President’s Executive Cabinet and Senior Advisory Council) on racism and other kinds of institutional barriers to inclusion and opportunity;
  • A special service award for staff in the development of programming or service contributions that advance inclusivity;
  • Annual experiential learning workshops for all staff on understanding and combatting bias, respecting cultural differences, and racism;
  • Increased commitment to recruiting, hiring, promoting, and retaining a diverse staff; and
  • A trained staff member dedicated to every search to focus on and report diversity and inclusion efforts and achievements in the search and hiring process.

Outcomes: Transparency and Accountability

We will undertake a full, comprehensive institutional review to look at outcomes. We have done climate surveys, consultant reviews, and task forces in the past. We now must turn our attention to evaluating and assessing if our efforts have yielded the desired effects and how we can do better. This will include:

  • An institutional outcome assessment and evaluation of all current diversity and inclusion initiatives and practices, with special attention on the opportunities and success of Black students, including admissions, retention, graduation, and post-graduate success;
  • A full review of every step of the CMC student experience from recruitment of new students, through orientation, to advising, to ensure positive experiences for our Black students, all students of color, and our entire student body;
  • An outcome assessment of the recruitment, experience, and retention of Black faculty, staff, and students;
  • An outcome assessment of our overall interview and hiring practices in all areas of the College;
  • A review of our public communications to ensure respectful media representation; and
  • An analysis by each department, office, institute, and functional area, to identify and change any practices, policies and protocols which do not fully support the anti-racist campus environment we aspire to achieve.

In order to embed these commitments in our daily work, and keep the community informed of our continued progress, we will put systems in place to assess our institutional performance and our annual progress toward institutional goals and priorities. To this end, we intend to do the following:

  • Highlight and publicize all outcomes and data in the most transparent way;
  • Conduct performance evaluations and annual reviews that will include assessment of contribution and progress in the areas of inclusion and anti-racism efforts; and
  • Empower the Faculty Diversity Committee (comprised of faculty, staff, and students) to monitor progress and provide guidance on opportunities for growth and advancement of the Initiative. (The committee will be expanded to include a member of the Board of Trustees and an alumni member.)

Community Contributions

As we involve students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees in structured ways throughout the year, each of you will shape the final strategy through your contributions, critical questions, and ideas.

Thus, we welcome and encourage your support, leadership, and feedback. Please send your contributions or questions to change@cmc.edu. We will continue to develop and prioritize the steps described here and update you on our progress on a quarterly basis.