Engaged Pluralism Initiative

September 13, 2017

Dear All,

I hope the first weeks of classes this year have gone well for you. If you see me walking around, please do not hesitate to introduce yourself to me. I am eager to get to know as many people as I can and hear about your experience at Vassar.

As you know, a key priority this year is developing a more inclusive living, working, and learning environment at Vassar. The Engaged Pluralism Initiative is a critical piece of this work. This initiative invites members of the Vassar community to collectively reimagine what it means to live, learn, and work together on a residential campus, especially for the most vulnerable members of our community. I am delighted that many of you are already involved. I am writing, though, because, quite frankly, we want all of you to participate to make sure every voice within the Vassar community is heard.

As part of the Engaged Pluralism Initiative, Vassar has contracted with an external group named Rankin & Associates to help us assess our current campus climate through about 20 focus groups and a quantitative all-campus survey. This assessment phase is an essential part of the effort to understand where we are and get a baseline for future improvements.

Focus groups

These will be conducted this fall to elicit how a broad range of students, faculty, and employees experience Vassar in terms of diversity and inclusion. Data will be completely confidential, and Rankin & Associates will use an informed consent process approved by the Vassar Institutional Review Board. Rankin & Associates will prepare and present an independent report to the community in 2018. If you are interested in participating in the focus groups, please contact EPIfocusgroups@vassar.edu.

All-campus online, anonymous survey

This will be fielded later in 2018 and serve as a quantitative baseline measure of campus climate, which will help us track progress over time. We would aim to conduct this survey as part of an overall assessment process for the school. Again, the data will be completely de-identified and confidential, with consent procedures approved by the Vassar Institutional Review Board. I hope each of you will participate in this because higher response rates provide much more valid assessments and your voice matters to the whole.

I am thankful to Candice Lowe Swift who is leading the Engaged Pluralism Initiative as well as the Rankin & Associates Climate Assessment Committee* who are leading this critical portion of the project. Developing an instrument that will allow us to collect good data—both qualitative and quantitative—is invaluable to improving our campus climate, an effort from which we will all benefit.

Thank you very much for participating!

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President 
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604 

* Members of this committee are: Rachel Pereira, Director of EOAA and Chair of Climate Assessment Working Group, MaryJo Cavanaugh, Director of Accessibility and Educational Opportunity, Jonathan Chenette, Dean of the Faculty and Engaged Pluralism Co-PI, Teresa Garrett, Assoc. Prof of Chemistry and Assoc. Dean of the Faculty, Ivanna Guerra, Student of History, Class ’20, Cody Harmon, Student of Anthropology and Education, Class ’19, Diane Harriford, Prof. of Sociology and Director of Women’s Studies, Cecilia Hoang, Student of Sociology and Asian American Studies, Class ’18, Martha Kaplan, Professor of Anthropology. Candice Lowe Swift, Assoc. Prof. of Anthropology, Co-Chair of Climate Assessment Committee, Wendy Maragh Taylor, Director of ALANA Center and Co-Chair of Climate Assessment Committee, Frank Najarro, Student of Anthropology, Latin American and Latino/a Studies, and Environmental Studies, Class ’18, Ed Pittman, Associate Dean of the College, Art Rodriguez, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Arlene Sabo, Director of Safety and Security, Willa Vincitore, Class of ’92 and Director of Alumnae/I Engagement, Director of Institutional Research/EPI Research Analyst (incoming)