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March Update

  • Sunday, Mar 22, 2015

I had drafted an edition of Work In Progress which was scheduled to be sent on March 8. In light of the events in the greater Madison area and on campus at that time, I decided instead to send a stand-alone communication—which you received that evening. As a result of that delay, this edition may be a little “newsier” than usual.

A Difficult Week

The week before Spring Break is often a challenging one on our campus—athletic teams are beginning their travel south, many courses are in the process of administering midterm exams or assignments, and if the weather is nice it becomes particularly easy to become distracted. Obviously, this year’s week before finals was particularly difficult, as our campus and local community dealt with the aftereffects of Tony Robinson’s death and the circumstances surrounding it.

I am proud of how the vast majority of our community handled that difficult week. Many students—some supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, others wanting to register their support for the Madison Police Department—took on leadership in organizing events on and off campus, providing the opportunity for their classmates to learn and engage. Many faculty utilized the opportunity for students to discuss, candidly and to the extent appropriate given the course content, their thoughts, feelings, and questions around this complex situation. And many staff worked quickly to support students on a number of fronts:  to provide emotional support to those who felt directly affected by the shooting itself or subsequent events, to head off potentially inappropriate behavior and, when such behavior occurred, to handle it directly and appropriately.

Last Wednesday morning, President’s Council debriefed the week. We discussed what went well, what could have gone more smoothly, and what lessons we might learn for future situations that may have a similar type of impact on both the campus community and the broader community. I would encourage all departments—academic and administrative--on campus to similarly reflect on lessons learned and to consider whatever steps might emerge from that reflection. I suspect that there will continue to be discussions around the content of the Tony Robinson situation and the broader context in which it exists, especially as the investigation and legal processes play out in upcoming weeks and months. I encourage each of us to do what we can to continue supporting those who feel affected by this situation, to help students (and, for that matter, all of us) continue to learn, and to assist the Madison community in addressing the many structural and cultural issues this incident made increasingly evident.

Hatheway History Lecture

I am particularly grateful to all those involved in carrying out the Hatheway History Lecture, which featured civil rights legend Julian Bond. Bond’s remarks were delivered to an overflow crowd—Anderson Auditorium was filled to capacity, as was the classroom across the hall. In addition, more than 80 devices logged in to watch online while the speech was given. His presence on campus and in our community was especially powerful and timely; if you were not able to attend I invite you to watch the lecture, which is available online Special thanks go to Andy Witt (History), Ed Taylor and David Petroff (Marketing and Communications), Samantha Tiller (Events), and Jerry Sliter (Security) for their work in making sure that those who came to campus felt our Edgewood College hospitality.

Arrivals…

On Monday, March 9 we welcomed Gary Klein to Edgewood College for his first day as our new Vice President for Institutional Advancement…though he got a head start on campus a couple of weeks ago for a meeting of the Advancement Committee of the Board. You’ll have a variety of opportunities to meet Gary as the semester moves forward. At the same time as we extend to Gary a warm welcome, please join me in thanking Katie Vesperman, the interim leader of Institutional Advancement since July, and the rest of the advancement office for their fine work!

And Departures

I have asked Dean Pribbenow, Vice President for Academic Affairs, to chair the search committee for the Vice President for Student Development. Dr. Pribbenow and the VPSD are close partners in leadership of building a challenging, engaging, supportive educational environment. In addition, I’m pleased to announce that Sylvia Contreras (Library), Kasey DeWitt (Learning Support), Nick Hefty (SGA President), Roberta Gassman (Trustee), Cristie Jacobs (President’s Office), Mary Klink (Dominican Life and Mission), and Jeanne Leep (Faculty) have agreed to serve on that committee as well. The search profile has been posted online  and recruitment of candidates has begun. The first round of candidate reviews will be around April 20, followed in short order by telephone and then on-campus interviews before the end of the academic year. Please join me in thanking these members of our campus community for their leadership in this important process!

Career Services Transition

Transitions always present opportunities for rethinking organization and alignment of services. With the VPSD transition as well as leadership transitions in academic advising and career services, I have accepted the recommendation (made by a faculty/staff study group and supported by Dean Pribbenow and Maggie Balistreri-Clarke) to shift the organizational home of Career Services to Academic Affairs. The primary intent of this change is to ensure greater alignment between academic advising and career services. Career services will remain under Maggie Balistreri-Clarke’s supervision until her retirement at the end of this academic year. After that time, you can expect updated information about leadership and coordinator from Dean Pribbenow.

Board of Trustees Follow-Up

Our Board of Trustees met on Thursday, March 12. During this meeting, the Board took action on three topics: the 2015-16 operating budget, a slate of new trustees (to officially begin service in fall), and faculty nominated for promotion and tenure. For the last few years, we have set aside time for Trustees to engage with students during one of the spring meetings; at this meeting, a group of seniors discussed their experiences at Edgewood College.

The final Board meeting of the year will be on Thursday, May 7. That meeting will be a day-long event at the Sinsinawa Mound, which many of our Trustees have never visited. During that day, the Trustees will have a chance to learn more about the Sinsinawa Dominican mission and values we have been asked to steward in addition to engaging with the Corporate Board (six Dominicans elected to that role) as we do every year.

Upcoming Communication from the Business Office

You can expect to receive a couple of communications from the Business Office in the next few days, about two topics:

  • Establishment of a Benefits Task Force, consisting of a variety of faculty and staff, which will explore the benefit package we offer in the context of other similar organizations.
  • Follow-up to a recently completed compliance audit around administration of the College’s 403(b) plan.

Please keep your eyes open for these important communications and follow up if/as needed.