St. Olaf College | News

Establishing the Council on Equity and Inclusion

August 27, 2018

A Message from Larry Stranghoener ’76, Chair of the St. Olaf College Board of Regents, and President David R. Anderson ’74:

The Report of the Working Group on Equity and Inclusion, issued last May, recommends the establishment of a St. Olaf Council on Equity and Inclusion.

The Report further recommends that the President and the Chair of the Board of Regents select the Chair of the Council with input from the President’s Leadership Team. The Report then recommends that the Chair “help recruit members and put in place the governance structure for any future elections.”

We are writing now to name the Council Chair, to establish a process for recruiting other members of the Council, to deliver a charge to the Council, and to invite all members of the community to offer their active support for the Council’s work.

The Chair of the Council:

We are happy to report that the Provost and Dean of the College, Marci Sortor, has agreed to serve as Chair of the Council. We thank Marci for taking on this important task. Her areas of responsibility cross academic departments and disciplines, faculty and staff domains, and directly serve the students at our college. Her calm and experienced leadership, her deep knowledge of so many areas of the College, and her demonstrated commitment to equity and inclusion position her well to lead the Council as it begins its important work.

The Report of the Working Group recommended that the Council be formed in a “transparent and collaborative fashion.” We believe that can best be accomplished in the following manner.

The Membership of the Council:

— A Chair selected by the Chair of the Board of Regents and the President.

— 2 members of the President’s Leadership Team, selected by the PLT.

— 2 faculty members, one elected by the faculty through its established governance process and the other selected by the Dean’s Council.

— 2 members of the staff, one elected by the exempt staff and the other elected by the non-exempt staff.

— 2 students, one elected by the Student Government Association and the other jointly selected by the Council Chair and the President of SGA.

— 1 alumnus/alumna of the College selected by the Alumni Board.

We think it is important for there to be a selection process as well an election process in forming the Council to ensure balance as to gender, race, and ethnicity, among other identities in the Council as a whole.

We leave it to the Council, early in its process, to establish staggered terms for the members of the Council and to consider not only the length of terms of service but also the possibility of renewal of terms up to some limit.

The Charge to the Council:

The Working Group’s Report did not specify a Charge to the Council, so we have done that, quoting directly from the very words of the Report:

To assist in the development and monitoring of the College’s strategic equity and inclusion plans and metrics, advise the administration on the implementation of the recommendations contained in this report, connect disparate efforts across campus, and serve as a resource for academic and administrative departments. The Council should report annually to the President and Board of Regents.

We urge the parties involved to make their selections for membership on the Council as soon as possible after the academic year begins. The Chair of the Council, Marci Sortor, will oversee and work with them to put the processes in place to do that.

Formation of this Council is an important step forward for the College, and we urge all members of the community to lend the Council their support and good will.