2007-08 Annual Report

I. Religious, Spiritual and Ethical Issues

II. Diversity and Social Justice Assessment from MLK Day Town Hall Meeting

I. Religious, Spiritual and Ethical Issues

Meeting April 30, 2008, the Campus Religious, Spiritual and Ethical Life Committee addressed several issues and received one additional report from two undergraduate guests. Thanks to those present: Committee members Ashley Buchheit, Prof... Jeanne Clark (CLA), The Rev. Kate Conolly (trustee), Holli Davenport (Assistant to the Chaplains, secretary), Prof... Ken Smith (AGSM), Chaplain Charlie Wallace (co-chair) Judge John Wittmayer (trustee, co-chair) and guests from the Concerned Students for Social Justice (CLA) Becky Alexander and Anthony Kim.

Living Wage for Willamette Employees

We commend the administration, and especially Keith Grimm, Director of Human Resources, for working on wage and benefit improvements for the lowest-paid of Willamette’s workers. There’s more to be done, but a good start has been made.

Religious Denigration

A professor reported instances of undergraduate hostility toward Christians, one group you can “still get away with picking on.” Also heard on campus: “Christians” deserve criticism, since “they frequently oppress” others (or at least reap considerable privilege from their status in this culture). Especially if such anecdotal evidence is borne out in wider student surveys, these reports argue for more opportunities in which dialogue between and among world views can occur. We recommend further investigation from the Office of the Chaplains (see “Climate Survey,” below).

Tuition Remission Use?

We discussed the possibility of childless faculty/staff sponsoring an international student or student from an under-represented group, employing (on a one time basis) the tuition remission benefit they would otherwise not be able to use. We recommend that the Fringe Benefits Committee provide an arena for discussing this issue.

Student Proposal for a Center (and a Dean) for Social Justice and Diversity

Based on commendable research, the undergraduate Concerned Students for Social Justice have developed and lobbied for a staffed Center, a welcoming place for Multicultural, LBGTQ, and Women’s Affairs on campus. Many of our aspirant schools have acquired or renovated such spaces and funded positions to staff them. The Committee applauds the various administrative offices, committees and councils who have responded to the proposal. We understand the Campus Master Planning Committee has included it among our future space needs, and we urge it be given priority status. We support the proposal in spirit, if not in all the details, and in the interim, encourage University Relations (in conversation with the student proposers) to research grants that will allow the incremental development of a center and a dean of diversity position.

Campus Climate Survey

Rather than respond only to anecdotal evidence of “issues” on campus, we propose a campus climate survey. We suspect there are instruments already available (e.g., the U.C.L.A. “Spiritual Life of College Students”). Or we might be able to tailor one toward the wider range of religious, spiritual, and ethical issues we would like to investigate. We will consult with our Director of Institutional Research, Mike Moon.

II. Diversity and Social Justice Assessment from MLK Day Town Hall Meeting

Thanks to all who took part and recorded the materials and especially Rebecca Ryan ’08 and Dan Craig, Facilities Supervisor, for transcribing the afternoon’s conversation.

A. Curricular Conversation

Current Initiatives

  • Diversity Advisors were added to all CLA tenure-track faculty search committees
  • “American Ethnic Studies” is a thriving program, offering a minor
  • “Women’s and Gender Studies” is also thriving, and offers both a major and a minor
  • CLA Multicultural Affairs Committee is active fostering discussion regarding search committees, pedagogy, and what we mean by diversity. It also has helped staff and train the above mentioned “diversity advisors.” The Lausanne Fellowship program helps bring minority ABD students to campus as they complete their dissertations and teach one class. (There were four fellows in residence in the middle of the 2007-08 school year.)
  • The Office of Admissions has a broadly defined sense of diversity in Admissions and quite a diverse staff.

Expressed Needs

  • Reflect diversity and social justice in a major general education Curricular revision (unlikely before the current spate of hiring is completed)
  • Organize credit towards tenure and promotion for “diversity work”
  • Enhance AES and WGS budgets; move AES towards a regular major
  • Continue conversations on what “diversity” means (internationality, sexuality, etc.)
  • Enhance Lausanne Fellowship program as a potential bridge to tenure-track faculty
  • Use “Opportunity Hires” when indicated (passed at a spring ‘08 CLA faculty meeting)

B. Co-Curricular Conversation

Current Initiatives

  • Residence Life for several years has been committed to hiring and educating towards the creation of inclusive living communities; it has achieved a fairly diverse staff
  • Athletics Department boasts diverse athletes and a fairly diverse coaching staff
  • Student Involvement students have pushed diversity training for Opening Days leaders and as a major programming piece for the first-year class
  • ASWU reports Club funding more diverse in 2007-08
  • Human Resources is working on better benefits for all employees (e.g., no waiting period for classified staff in getting vacation accrual and retirement benefits, tuition benefit available to domestic partners)
  • New HR employees: one is bilingual in Spanish and experience in recruitment issues, another focuses on employee training
  • We are taking steps toward living wage for our lowest paid employees
  • Willamette Academy works with lower income and under-represented local students and families’ the first class “graduated” last June. Eighteen of 21 are attending college attendance and three are attending W.U. This is a great program for W.U. students to volunteer and work in
  • Chemawa Indian School tutoring program, staffed by 27 Willamette students, served some 100+ students (2007-08)
  • Presidential commitment to renew our relationship to the local tribes

Expressed Needs

  • Better analysis of survey data in Residence Life would give us a sense of why 25% don’t feel the residence experience has helped people understand one another
  • Need more gender diversity in coaching staff (at least as of January 2008)
  • ASWU needs more than just a crash course in diversity
  • Expand recruiting toward reflecting the Hispanic population of our area
  • Institutionalize equity programs: e.g.,Willamette Academy; Chemawa Tutoring program
  • Enculturate students into our history and into our responsibilities
  • Bring academics, community service, academics together
  • Add a position in Office of Multicultural Affairs
  • Enculturate faculty as well as students into our history and values, etc.
  • Encourage students to respond to inappropriate faculty remarks and sour classroom climate (via conversation with faculty and dean’s office and via evaluations)
  • Help students know the power of their voice vis-à-vis professors’ (in positive ways at tenure time)
  • Better publicity about committees and structures that students can avail themselves of
  • Continue opportunities for dialogue (as at MLK Day Town Hall and possible ASWU forums)

C. Administrative Conversation (President Pelton and Dean Long)

Current Initiatives

  • President Pelton recommends Association of American Colleges and Universities' four-point framework to help us develop, consider, and monitor diversity efforts:
  1. Institutional viability and vitality -- our capacity to plan, implement and evaluate comprehensive diversity work (e.g., its centrality in our mission and institutional planning; diversity in the composition of faculty and staff; the history of diversity issues and incidents, etc.).
  2. Education and Scholarship -- establishing courses with significant diversity of content; faculty engagement with, and student learning outcomes related to, diversity.
  3. Access and Success -- measuring student success using benchmarks such as graduation performance, retention and honors, pursuit of advanced degrees.
  4. Campus Climate and Inter-group Relations -- the type and quality of social interactions among students, faculty and staff.
  • $25,000 Hewlett money available through President’s office for faculty diversity initiatives
  • Incremental work on curriculum, pedagogy, student success, programming, support of faculty scholarship, evaluation, etc. all supported through CLA Dean’s Office
  • Dean’s and president’s doors are open, and they respond to email

Expressed Needs

  • Focus on comprehensive plan/goals
  • Look into more sweeping curricular change
  • Increase diversity in Alumni Board
  • Provide better sense of how the University works (ASWU might help this process) so students may navigate it to solve their own problems and to addresses our common interest in diversity and social justice
  • Encourage student responsibility and initiative to improve campus climate
  • Provide better information as to where we are in hiring (and other numbers relative to diversity and justice)

Respectfully submitted,

Charles Wallace
University Chaplain
Co-chair, Campus Religious, Spiritual and Ethical Life Committee
Chair, Council on Diversity and Social Justice

Attached: Employment Diversity Statistics, 2004-2007
CLA Student diversity and social justice websites: