Messages to the Community

University Climate Assessment

Our Welcome message at the start of the academic year noted that we were working to develop a process to engage the university community in an ongoing discussion about strengthening diversity and inclusion. As an important way to advance this effort, we are about to begin a university-wide Climate Assessment.

The Climate Assessment process will help us to gain a shared understanding of the needs, hopes, and values of our students, faculty and staff to ensure that we are a welcoming and inclusive university in theory and practice. We want to hear from our entire community about how to grow our inclusivity in terms of who is here, how we support one another, what we learn, and how we attract, retain and promote a highly diverse community of students, faculty and staff.

At the outset of this process, we want to acknowledge that, over the years, the university and various parts of the university have endeavored to do various forms of climate assessments and surveys, helping to bring community issues and concerns of to the forefront. We acknowledge those efforts and hope to learn from all of these experiences as we engage in a comprehensive, research-based assessment that will ground and shape our work going forward.

Senior Vice President for Social Justice Maya Wiley and Director of Social Justice Initiatives Melanie Hart have taken the lead in identifying highly experienced consultants to guide us through the Climate Assessment process. They are: Dr. Gwendolyn Dungy and Dr. Caryn McTighe Musil, and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education based at the University of Maryland and led by Dr. Roger Worthington. You can read more about them here.

To help ensure that the Climate Assessment reflects the interests and needs of our large and diverse community, we have invited a broad-based group of leaders from across the university to serve on a Task Force to advise on and guide this process. Task Force members will be engaging with their respective schools, areas, and constituents to amplify this work, promote participation, and ensure successful execution of the assessment.

The Climate Assessment will occur in four phases:

  • The first phase will be a qualitative assessment through interviews and focus groups. These will be conducted December 2018 through January 2019
  • The second phase will be a quantitative survey assessment, to be conducted from February 2019 – May 2019.
  • The third phase will be a report with recommendations. We hope to have this report to share with the Community by June 2019.
  • The fourth phase will be strategic implementation of recommendations. This work will commence as soon as possible upon the conclusion of the ClimateAssessment, and will be ongoing.

We will be seeking ways to invite broad participation and input throughout the process, and will pay special attention to ensure that underrepresented groups are actively engaged.   We will be updating you as it moves forward.

As we prepare to celebrate The New School’s Centennial, there is no better time than now to critically examine the ways in which The New School can deliver on its promise to be a highly inclusive, welcoming environment where our strength lies in the diversity of identities and voices in our community. This is especially important at this particular time in the history of our nation and the world, when there are many challenges and threats around issues of identity, belonging, and tolerance. It is a moment for The New School to be assertive and lead.

We are glad that we are able to engage in this critical self-reflection and we look forward to working with you.

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