President Anderson’s response to the Working Group report
On May 1 the independent Working Group on Equity and Inclusion, co-chaired by two members of our Board of Regents, released its report and recommendations. I appointed that body on September 25, asking them to review the way persons from underrepresented groups experience life at St. Olaf, to identify barriers that exist to members of our community experiencing a consistent sense of belonging at our college, and to recommend ways to eliminate those barriers.
Thank you to everyone who reviewed the report and took advantage of the two-week comment period to share their thoughts regarding its contents. I received feedback from individual students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents; from an entire academic department and an entire administrative office; and from the Student Government Association. Much of it was positive, encouraging the college to embrace the Working Group’s recommendations and offering thoughts on how best to do so. Some of it was critical, suggesting that the recommendations did not go far enough or include enough specificity. All of it was helpful in better understanding the work that lies ahead for our entire community.
After studying the Working Group’s report and the 32 comments that were submitted, I am writing now to say that St. Olaf will implement the recommendations of the report. These recommendations include creating a permanent Council on Equity and Inclusion, developing a strategic diversity and inclusion plan, and committing necessary financial and human resources to this important work. As we begin the implementation phase, we may identify slightly different paths than the Working Group did to achieve the goal of one or more of the recommendations, but we are committed to achieving the broad purpose and overall intent of the Working Group’s recommendations.
We will continue to be transparent and keep the community informed about the implementation process. You can follow our progress by checking for updates on the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative page of the College’s website beginning this summer.
The Board of Regents will continue to be engaged and provide oversight of these activities as we implement the recommendations of the Working Group.
I want to again thank the members of the Working Group on Equity and Inclusion for the commitment and diligence they brought to this task, and especially for the care they display throughout their report for the welfare of our students, faculty, and staff.
St. Olaf College’s mission statement “challenges students to excel in the liberal arts, examine faith and values, and explore meaningful vocation in an inclusive, globally engaged community nourished by Lutheran tradition.” An inclusive community is a foundational value, and we acknowledge that we have fallen short. We will continue the work of creating a campus that welcomes difference, invites dialogue, and builds community.
Thank you for reading this message, and thank you for your care for our college.