December 5, 2015

As President Martin and Amherst Uprising announced, students ended their sit-in at Frost Library soon after President Martin's first statement on November 15. The students subsequently organized themselves into smaller groups and formulated goals and recommendations that are available at http://amherstuprising.com/goals.html

Over the past week, President Martin has consulted with student leaders from Amherst Uprising, with the Committee of Six, and with a number of colleagues about the charge and composition of the Presidential Task Force or Committee on Diversity and Inclusion that she announced in October. The committee will include faculty, staff, students and representatives of a small number of key administrative offices and governance committees. The committee, which will be named before the holiday break, will

  • review a list of recommendations and suggest short- and longer-term priorities from among the recommendations that emerged from the recent protests on campus as well as from the Strategic Planning Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and from other initiatives. This past week members of the administration compiled a list of these ideas that includes as many as 100 concrete recommendations.
  • explore new ideas and help develop the means by which we measure progress and hold ourselves accountable as a community.
  • establish plans for communicating with the community about its work.  

The search for a Chief Diversity Officer is underway. The co-chairs of the search, the Dean of the Faculty and the Dean of Students, have scheduled meetings at which the campus community can provide ideas about the CDO position and search. We are being assisted in the search by Isaacson, Miller.

This semester’s trainings in the dialogue of difficult conversations are now complete. They were led by Paula Green, Ed.D., professor of conflict transformation at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont,  and founder and former director of the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding; and Celia Hilson, a multicultural teacher and dialogue facilitator. There will be follow-up training opportunities next semester.

Meanwhile, standing committees of the faculty are discussing the issues and ideas raised by Amherst Uprising, as are the College Council, the Office of Student Affairs, and students, faculty and staff across campus. These conversations will be invaluable going forward.

The Dean of Faculty has also taken new steps to ensure that we have diverse pools of candidates for faculty positions, and those practices are being embedded into all faculty search processes.

President Martin spent much of last week in New York on College business, where she had the opportunity to speak with several alumni about the developments on campus and to provide a more accurate and differentiated view than has been available in some media reports. Alumni have appreciated hearing that the campus discussions on these topics have for weeks now been thoughtful, caring and deliberate. 

The College will continue to provide timely updates on this page or in emailed announcements as new initiatives emerge.