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This page has been established to keep the Stetson community informed and provide convenient links and updates. If you encounter a bias-related incident in either DeLand or Gulfport, please use this form for reporting (Stetson.edu/reportit).

Keep connected through the campus-wide experience as a member of our Stetson community.

Inclusive Implementation Strategy Group

Dear members of the Stetson University community,

Our Strategic Map was designed to help guide us toward realizing a future Stetson University, and part of our journey is to achieve a Diverse Community of Inclusive Excellence.

Together we have made incredible progress. We completed the process of developing, deploying and implementing the Campus Climate Study. University leaders have committed to specific, concrete actions and reviews. In order to facilitate and monitor that process the president has appointed the DeLand “Inclusive Implementation Strategy Group,” and I would like to introduce them to you today.

I am Drew Macan, Associate Vice President of Human Resources and Deputy Title IX Coordinator, and I chair the group.

Here are our other members so you may know who they are and reach out to them personally if you have questions or concerns:

The DeLand Inclusive Implementation Strategy Group holds its first meeting next week, prior to commencement. There is a similar group already at work at the College of Law on our Gulfport campus and they recently reported on their initial results and initiatives.

I look forward to keeping the community informed and up to date as Stetson University and the DeLand Inclusive Implementation Strategy Group moves forward.

Drew Macan, Associate Vice President of Human Resources and Deputy Title IX Coordinator

President Libby's Cabinet Commitments

In her remarks on Campus Climate, Retention and Persistence, on Feb. 24 in Lee Chapel, President Libby invited each member of her cabinet to discuss the top two things they are going to tackle to improve climate and retention at Stetson University. Those comments are included in the President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., Remarks at the General Faculty Meeting - Friday, February 24, 2017, at Lee Chapel update. Below are the full lists of the commitments made by the president and each member of her cabinet.

President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., Remarks at Stand Up for Solidarity, Thursday, March 16, in Palm Court

STAND UP at Holler Fountain, Thursday, Mar.16, Palm Court

When students returned from Spring Break they discovered that gender neutral restroom signs and Kaleidoscope Pride Week posters in a few buildings had been torn down or ripped in half. In response, the Multicultural Student Council, MSC, and Kaleidoscope, with support from the Cross Cultural Center, called for a peaceful protest to show solidarity for the entire Stetson Community. The event took place in Palm Court and students, faculty and staff came to show their support for Kaleidoscope and Pride Week. Representatives from the MSC and Kaleidoscope spoke and President Libby came to show her support.

President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., Remarks at the General Faculty Meeting - Friday, February 24, 2017, at Lee Chapel

I want to thank the Chair of our Faculty Senate, Dr. Patrick Coggins, for ceding time to me today from your regular faculty meeting. Thank you as well to staff who have joined us today and to the executive committee of our Student Government Association, SGA, which recently committed to sponsoring a Town Hall for me and my senior team to discuss inclusive excellence and retention.

I am going to start with a bit of history, but we must not forget that the present climate of debate during our national election season and recent executive orders have engendered insecurity and anxiety among members of our community. Our times raise in high relief what I am going to talk with you about today.

My aim is not to review the entirety of what has brought us to this point since May 2014, but if you would indulge me, I would like to give our newer colleagues a sense of history.

At that time, our new 2014-19 Strategic Map was finalized and included a foundational goal, “to become a diverse community of inclusive excellence.” The map was developed by a team of approximately 30, who met over a series of months and in open forums. The Strategic Map was approved and passed by the Board of Trustees in May 2014. It’s known to some of you as the “Bingo Card” and you can find it on our planning website.

To achieve our goal of becoming a diverse community of inclusive excellence I established a Task Force on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence co-chaired by then-Provost Beth Paul and Law Professor Joe Morrissey. Vice President Bruce Chong took over for Beth on her departure. Committee members were named from across the university and across our various stakeholders. Some have been with the group from the beginning. Some joined at a later date. I want to thank everyone who has taken part in the Task Force, attended any events around their work or submitted recommendations for how to respond to the results of the survey.

Stetson University hired Rankin and Associates and together the Task Force and Dr. Rankin developed the questions for a survey that was administered just shy of a year ago. Results came back in draft form in late August and Dr. Rankin visited both DeLand and Gulfport in September to present the results to our communities, and then again in October to present the results to our Board of Trustees. Throughout the process, the Task Force was continually updated and encouraged to review progress and reflect on directions.

After the results were delivered to campus there were a series of forums seeking recommendations for improving campus climate given what we had learned.

In addition, the Task Force itself was reviewing the comments and suggestions, and seeking to develop three overarching recommendations. There were so many suggestions from our community that the Task Force was unable simply to identify three, but the following was clear:

  • The entire community is responsible for diversity and inclusion.
  • A team or teams reporting to the president should be appointed to monitor and assure action and performance.
  • Policy and communications need to be clarified.
  • Faculty and academic groups should address ways to advance inclusive excellence in curriculum and teaching, including having access to development and training on ways to support classroom dialogue and bolster identity.
  • As Dr. Rankin's report stated, "campuses are complex places with multiple and varied interactions of people, values, systems and externalities." That makes identifying the dimensions of power and privilege all the more complex and important.
  • Inclusion is an integral part of our toolkit in positively impacting student, faculty and staff retention. Excellence is only achievable in a learning environment that is inclusive.
  • We should continually seek suggestions and take actions that enhance inclusion, underscore our fundamental belief in civility and respect, and maintain academic freedom and our cherished freedom of speech. Indeed, as the 1974 Woodward Report at Yale opined, "to curtail free expression strikes twice at intellectual freedom, for whoever deprives another of the right to state unpopular views necessarily also deprives others of the right to listen to those views."

From the list of suggestions generated across the university, two separate lists were formed. The DeLand campus list includes every item recommended. These items have been assigned to a senior administrator to evaluate and report on by a specific date. The second list comprises suggestions for our Gulfport campus and these were assigned to the Dean of the College of Law and his administrators for action.

Beyond this, every vice president, our athletics director, the DeLand Faculty Senate Chair and I have developed a list of actions within our divisional purviews that will directly, positively impact inclusive excellence here at Stetson. We are going to share some of those actions with you later in this hour and post them for your information.

Now, I would like to switch gears for a moment, but still stay with the same engine and automobile. I’d like to talk about retention.

Ever since I arrived at Stetson, for some seven and a half years now, there has been continual talk about undergraduate retention and how we should do better. I wholeheartedly agree, and this past year our first-to-second-year retention hit 79 percent, our best retention rate in the past 11 years, but it is still significantly shy of the institutions we compare ourselves to. Some comparison and peer institutions retain first-time students at 85 percent, some even higher.

I don’t often refer to the U.S. News and World Report rankings as a motivation for changing how we conduct our work, because I believe students are the most important motivating factor. However, in context of today’s discussion, there is no doubt that increased retention would have a salutary impact on our rankings.

Through the work of Dr. Resche Hines, Dr. Painter, Dr. Hancock and others, and through our use of two powerful new tools, Power BI and the Student Success Collaborative software, we are now able to ask hundreds of questions about retention, and begin to look for more and earlier indicators of concern than ever before. We also are able to cross-tabulate things like estimated family contribution, grade-point average, major and year of entry with retention, and take what we learn and apply it prospectively. Power BI is available through our Microsoft Suite of products and you too can use it to see and work with the data.

Surprisingly, one of the things we learned is that 50 percent of the students who entered in fall 2015 and did not return in 2016 left us despite having a GPA of 2.75 and above. They also had the financial wherewithal and support to be at Stetson University.

What does that mean? Simply said, the issue isn’t academics. They can make the cut. They can make the grade, so something else is going on, maybe as a group, maybe individually.

One thing we do know with clarity is that the students we lost had the GPAs to prove they could be successful at this institution and could meet high expectations. The answer to our retention issue is not to seek smarter students with high family incomes. The answer is that somewhere in what we are doing within our environment, students are choosing not to stay.

If just half of the students who left between fall 2015 and 2016 had stayed, Stetson University’s retention rate would have been 83 percent. That translates into higher graduation rates, higher satisfaction with Stetson, higher loyalty to their alma mater in the future, more successful alumni networking with graduating students, and bringing talents that enhance Stetson’s success.

We have committed to our Board of Trustees that by 2020 Stetson University will achieve a first-to-second-year-retention rate of 83 percent. We can do this together. It is everyone’s business to encourage our students to succeed and stay.

Now, let’s come back around to the data on campus climate from the Rankin survey.

We know that 23 percent of our undergraduates do not feel a sense of belonging here. These 23 percent have personally experienced exclusionary, intimidating, offensive or hostile contact, and this is a percentage not dissimilar from national norms.

With respect to faculty and staff, we know that at some time 52 percent have seriously considered leaving Stetson, many for financial reasons, and only 39 percent have felt valued by the DeLand administration. For every staff and faculty member we lose, we lose the gifts that they bring to this community in their intellect, their insights and their passion.

For every student we lose because of their sense of not belonging or having been harassed in some fashion, we lose their gifts of intellect, insights and passion. We will have broken our promise to them that at Stetson they can learn and thrive and be their very best selves. Every student who leaves, for whatever reason, also means a loss of revenue that could have been invested in salaries, benefits, professional development and better teaching environments.

We owe everyone who chooses to come to Stetson, everyone who believes the promise of the beauty of our university, the right to live and learn and work here with equity and dignity, with the opportunity to have a voice that they can use freely and be welcomed and included for that voice.

Inclusive excellence and retention are Venn diagram circles that almost completely overlap.

That is why I challenge us to:

  • Build mutual respect for one another and our differences of all kinds
  • As individuals, groups and as an institution, to increase our knowledge of prevention, respect and support around issues of harassment and assault
  • Become free of exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and hostile conduct with respect to one another, and
  • Develop a more diverse and inclusive curriculum.

Let me turn now to our Provost, Dr. Noel Painter, for his remarks that further zero in on what I have presented to you.

Noel Painter, Ph.D., Provost and Executive Vice President, remarks at the General Faculty meeting on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, at Lee Chapel

To conclude, I would like to describe for you the way I see us moving ahead.

First, I would like to name a monitoring group for each campus, reporting to me, that has the power and teeth to monitor and report on progress and roadblocks around the suggestions for action from the Task Force and from each member of my Cabinet.

A number of you have stepped forward to do this work and I thank you for that. But I have not received any faculty volunteers and cannot move forward until that happens. So today, I am asking our faculty here in DeLand to step forward by sending me a note indicating your interest.

Second, I would like to put together a small group, maybe three or four of you, to develop a Statement of Principles for Stetson University.

Third, I’ve asked Vice President Bruce Chong working with our IT staff to assure that by the opening of school in August 2017, we have a better, clearer, more focused and timely way to communicate with the members of the Stetson community.

Fourth, I asked all members of our Cabinet to stand and report on two of their top initiatives for moving ahead on this most important work of climate and retention.

Cabinet comments at the General Faculty meeting on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, at Lee Chapel

Patrick Coggins, Ph.D., Professor and Chair Faculty Senate

  1. Increase faculty voice and transparency in governance
  2. Work with students to provide academic advising with career and graduate school projections

Bruce Chong, Vice President for Marketing and Communications

  1. Address internal communications through MyStetson
  2. Build communications channels to promote transparency

Joel Bauman, Vice President for Enrollment Management

  1. Develop summer enrichment programs for under-served populations
  2. Develop partnerships with Community Based Organizations, CBO's

Jeff Altier, Athletics Director

  1. Promote the student-athlete and their academic success
  2. Improve inclusiveness with staff and students, especially with LGBTQ+ through education and training, and ban non-conference athletic travel to North Carolina until HB 2 has been rescinded.

Bob Huth, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

  1. Make online courses ADA accessible
  2. Identify and label "All Gender" restrooms

Jeff Ulmer, Vice President for Development and Alumni Engagement

  1. Expand mentorship program connected to Bonner Program and Cross Cultural Center
  2. Develop community, service-based learning and internships for students

Lua Hancock, Vice President for Campus Life and Student Success

  1. Increase education, systems and communication around Title IX related issues to raise awareness of gender bias and reduce sexual violence and harassment
  2. Create bias-related protocol by May 1, 2017, so the community is clear on the reporting process for bias-related behavior
  3. Create process to increase student collaboration on issues of diversity and inclusion

Noel Painter, Ph.D., Provost and Executive Vice President

  1. Increase awareness of how data can inform our work in both inclusiveness and retention
  2. Increase awareness of the importance and value of diversity in learning

I would like to list three of my own initiatives for you today.

I will continue to present opportunities for education and development in both inclusive excellence and retention to the Board of Trustees and my Cabinet. I will hold people’s feet to the fire in moving ahead with the initiatives and action items they have proposed, and I will continue to meet with our students, faculty and staff so that they know that Stetson University is listening and hearing what they have to say.

Lastly, I have been thinking lately of a young college student I knew when I was at Stephens College. The world was her oyster; she was inspired every day by the wonder of learning and thinking about what the future might mean for her. She called herself a “Possibilitarian” and had that world written on a duct-tape strap on her book bag. She died suddenly and tragically in a car accident that first year, and in her honor many of us sported duct-tape straps with the word “Possibilitarian” on them. Let me ask you to be a “Possibilitarian” in this work – to be a better place, to be a more civil and respectful place, to be a place where students and our faculty and staff come and stay and never feel diminished. That is our most important work, and it is everyone’s work.

Thank you.

Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Message to the Community - Thursday, February 9, 2017

The foundational goal of our Strategic Map is to become a diverse community of inclusive excellence, a community that fosters equity, dignity and respect. The work to date to develop a questionnaire, assess the climate of Stetson University and solicit recommendations for improvement has been done by the Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Task Force (DIETF). Through this work, we learned more about the extra attention required to be successful in retaining our high achieving faculty, staff and students. Accordingly, we must be committed to an environment that encourages all of us to do our best in a most supported and encouraging way. Explicit and implicit biases affect individuals and systems in powerful ways that are both immediate and long-lasting and can impact our professional and academic success as well as our physical well-being. Our university cannot reach its full potential if we hold members of our community back from reaching theirs through behavior that excludes, intimidates, demeans, harasses or harms others.

Thank You

I highly commend the members of this group for the important work they have done for our community around issues that are difficult and often inspire deep passion and urgency. Our profound respect and thanks to all who so willingly and generously gave their time and insights to this process:

Co-Chairs
Bruce Chong – DeLand
Joe Morrissey – Gulfport
Members
Albert Aguirre – DeLand
Christopher Colwell – DeLand
Resche Hines – DeLand
C. Drew Macan – DeLand
Colin McFarlane – DeLand
Thomas Masse – DeLand
Patricia Medina – DeLand
Pegjohngy Moses – DeLand
Nicole Mottier – DeLand
Vanessa Petion – DeLand
Glenna Roof – DeLand
Judith Scully – Gulfport
Jessica West – DeLand 

Process to Reach This Point

For our new community members and those who would like a refresher, please see this brief description of the process that has been followed since the convening of the DIETF roughly two years ago.

DIETF Overarching University Recommendations

The DIETF provided four overarching recommendations from its work. They include recommendations related to

Focus: the responsibility of the entire university community for diversity and inclusion work, with senior level oversight, increased communications, and steering committees to keep our work on track,

Policy: the directive to clarify university policy related to diversity and inclusion and how we address exclusionary behavior,

Curriculum: the critical nature of an open environment for classroom dialogue and a more inclusive curriculum to bolster identity and advance inclusive excellence, and

Knowledge/Capacity Building: the increase in our learning about inclusion and diversity to foster the sense of belonging of people of all differences, and the special attention paid to preventing instances of sexual harassment and assault and providing well understood and easily accessible resources and support.

Action Plans in Place

The DIETF has been hard at work since the fall assembling the recommendations collected at multiple forums after the release of the Rankin study’s campus climate assessment. I am pleased to send to provide you the list of recommendations for the DeLand campus and for the Gulfport campus. The DIETF has made only minor edits although they did combine a number of similar items into larger groupings. The list for the DeLand campus includes assignment of responsibility to at least one member of my Cabinet with a deadline for reporting on an implementation plan, progress or completion. Assessment, which leads to a decision to not undertake a particular recommendation, is also a valid result. The list for the Gulfport campus is directly assigned to the Dean of the College of Law with oversight of the Executive VP/Provost and relevant members of my Cabinet.

Monitoring and Feedback

The attached action plans will be monitored for progress and success, as well as roadblocks by two teams reporting directly to the president. The team at Gulfport will be composed of three members: one faculty member, one staff member and one student. The team at DeLand will be composed of five members: one faculty member, one salaried staff member, one hourly staff member, one student and one member of the senior administration. I invite you to self-nominate for these positions and members of the DIETF are certainly welcomed to continue their work through these assignments. Please send me an email if you are interested.

On-going Commitment

Stetson’s commitment to transparency in the process of becoming a more inclusive university remains paramount. Thanks to everyone who completed the Rankin questionnaire, patiently waited through its analysis, attended a forum and provided feedback, suggestions and recommendations for action plans. The attached actions plans do not mean that our work is over…far from that. The work of providing an equitable and respectful environment for all of us never stops. We must continue to build our capacity to be better citizens and colleagues. So, anyone, at any time, is welcome to offer recommendations for ways we can improve; please send suggestions directly to me.

More information will be forthcoming in late February and early March about the actions members of my Cabinet will be taking within their divisions to further our inclusion work. In addition, a Statement of Community Principles and Standards will be developed over the calendar year 2017. I encourage SGA and other students, faculty and staff groups to invite me and/or members of my Cabinet to their meetings to further discuss our commitment to Inclusive Excellence with their constituencies.

Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D.
President
Stetson University

Addressing the Community - Saturday, November 12, 2016

To the Stetson community:

With the current state of the country, community, and campus we felt that it was important to release a statement highlighting our unique opportunity as a community here at Stetson.

The unique opportunity we’re speaking of is our ability to meet face to face, create a healthy dialogue, and understand the thoughts of our other students. With a campus of 3,000 students, we are able to foster intelligent debate and reach a level understanding that may not lead to an agreement but it should lead to learning why people feel the way they feel, vote the way they vote, or think the way they think.

With that being said, we have not lived up to the expectations that we strive for. We have been facing hateful rhetoric and hateful actions. Our actions are echoing the actions of other parts of our country. Actions we do not support and we will not tolerate. We have abused each other, some physically, some verbally, and some mentally. We have categorized and generalized people by their race, religion, voter registration, and by other aspects. We have lost track of who our friends are, who our colleagues are, and who we are. We must rise above this. We have to remember our values. We must keep daring to be significant.

We must be the student leaders that we know we can be. We must be the ones who kindly let any perpetrators know that is not the Stetson culture and report any such incidents. Please remember to use all of our resources. The counseling center, the Cross Cultural Center, and even other students. Our “report” link (www.stetson.edu/reportit) is also an essential resource for students who wish to report actions and remain anonymous.

This was obviously a very contentious election and although our students share different backgrounds, different identities, and different views, we do share a common factor: we are hatters. We have chosen to attend a university in which we can challenge ourselves and lead the way for the future. We share values with an institution of higher learning and must embrace the differences mentioned in order to rise above this.

No matter our views. No matter our identity. We are hatters. We are humans.

Together, we will move forward and make this community stronger.

written by

  • Jeffrey Hahn, SGA President
  • Alyssa Morley, SGA Vice President
  • David DiGioacchino, SGA Secretary of Communications
  • Patricia Medina, Chair of Diversity and Inclusion

Stetson Community Values - Friday, November 11, 2016

A Letter from President Libby

Dear Stetson Community,

This time of change in America offers us a chance to double down on our values as a Stetson community — values such as communication and discourse as well as diversity and inclusion. Inclusion can be a noun, but at this time, we need to show it as a verb in our actions. We are a community of learners in which listening and compassion are essential, and hateful speech and actions have no place.

I have been deeply saddened to hear of recent incidents on college campuses and in the larger community, including incidents that involve our own students, with language and action that are hurtful, are meant to incite fear and are meant to make members of our community feel like they do not belong. It is time to collectively enforce that this is not who we are as Hatters. Each one of us has an opportunity to support each other, to listen and learn something new.

If something concerning happens to you, or if you see or hear something happening to someone else, please report it. We do need to know and understand what is occurring on and off our campuses.

The Stetson Community in both Gulfport and DeLand should use this form (Stetson.edu/reportit). If a community member is found responsible for a bias-related incident the university will act swiftly and strongly.

The College of Law community in Gulfport encourages students to reach out to the Office of Student Affairs if they are interested in having a student-led discussion. Students are reminded that we now have a full-time licensed mental health counselor on campus. Sarah Siegrist can be reached at lawcounseling@law.stetson.edu. More information will be provided soon about an upcoming wellness workshop being offered to help process this time of change.

For our faculty and staff on all our campuses, we would like to remind you about Stetson’s Employee Assistance Program that can help with free individual counseling opportunities.

In DeLand, the Cross Cultural Center will be open for extended hours Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 12-13, from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. the following morning. We are grateful to our student leaders in SGA in DeLand for holding a forum the day after the election, and for our students in the multicultural student council for launching the #whataboutthe23 campaign.

Over the next few weeks and months we will continue to discuss and explore how we move forward together. Please expect to see additional communication and information around this theme, including from Dr. Lua Hancock, vice president for Campus Life and Student Success, College of Law Dean Chris Pietruszkiewicz, student leaders and faculty.

I note that this communication is coming to you on Veterans Day. This is a special day each year when we recognize the sacrifices of our military to protect our nation and freedoms. In Gulfport we hosted a Veterans Day lunch and opened an exhibit honoring the College of Law family and friends that have served. This morning in DeLand we held our annual Stetson Veterans Day Observance and Recognition Ceremony at the flagpole site in front of the Carlton Union Building. Our keynote speaker was Brian Wade, president of the Stetson Student Veterans Organization. Wade’s message today to his fellow student veterans and the Stetson community was responsibility.

“The strength of America lies in the communities that you build,” Wade said. “You take care of each other; you look out for each other. To me, that is the strength of America.”

Now is our time to be role models of taking that responsibility. This is our community. Take care of each other. Look out for each other.

Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D.

President

Stetson University

Picking Up the Pieces - Thursday, November 10, 2016

One day after a divisive election, the Stetson community came together to break bread and barriers.

Hosted by the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Diversity and Inclusion committee, the Town Hall-style meeting, “Picking up the Pieces,” brought students, faculty and staff to the Lynn Business Center lobby on Nov. 9 to engage, not in politics, but with each other.

“It’s important to have dialogue between us and find commonality,” said Patricia Medina, SGA chair of the Diversity and Inclusion committee and a senior religious studies major. “We all need some comfort food.”

Pizza was provided and catered by Bellini’s. Eating together was an important factor in this event.

“Sharing a meal together helps us recognize our shared humanity,” said Lindsay Graves, assistant director for Interfaith Initiatives. “We all need to eat.”

Attendance at the event included Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., Vice Provost Lua Hancock, Ed.D., and other members of the senior administration, professors from different departments, and students from various sectors of campus.

Medina noted that although we may not have chosen the same candidate, “We all chose the same school.”

“It creates a sense of tolerance and respect for one another,” said Vanessa Petion, Multicultural Student Council chair and a communication and media studies junior. “Sessions like this can create dialogue where we build understanding, not agreement.”

“It’s a challenge by choice,” said Luis F. Paredes, Ph.D., director of Diversity and Inclusion. “There is importance to group dialogue when it’s organic and grassroots implemented, but we do need to clarify the intentionality for dialogue.”

Savannah-Jane Griffin, director for Community Engagement, viewed the event as a step to healfrom the divisions created by a bitter election season. “Let’s start with food and see where we go from here.”

written by Veronica Faison, junior, Green, White & You ambassador