More than 100 students, faculty and staff engaged in lively discussions Monday about how to make Lehigh a more diverse and welcoming environment.
The noontime meeting in Lamberton Hall focused on the Principles of Our Equitable Community, a list of values that grew out of work by the Council for Equity and Community. The principles have been ratified by the faculty, the Board of Trustees, ERAC, the undergraduate and graduate student senates and other key campus groups.
“I’m really excited by the energy in this room,” President Alice P. Gast said in her opening remarks. “This is an opportunity to acknowledge what we stand for and how we want to enact that every day.
The discussion was led by Henry Odi, vice provost for academic diversity, and moderators representing students, faculty and staff. Attendees participated in two sets of small-group discussions to determine ways that people can individually and collectively make the values part of the fabric of the university community.
Students, staff and faculty members—many of whom were meeting for the first time—exchanged ideas about how to bring the principles to life. Some of the suggestions included posting them in athletic and academic facilities, introducing them to new students and staff during orientation, attaching them to all letters of admission, offering a course in diversity training, and incorporating the principles into the annual review process for faculty and staff, including supervisors.
Those attending were asked to jot down ideas on note cards that were provided. At the end of the hour, the cards were gathered by organizers, and Provost Patrick Farrell said they would be captured and shared with the campus community as a whole.
The principles were printed on two large posters in the front of the room, and most of the attendees signaled their commitment to them by signing one of the posters.
Provost Patrick Farrell reminded the group that integrating the principles into Lehigh’s culture would take time, but he encouraged them not to wait.
“The theme here is to put these principles into action,” he said. “Take these ideas back to your local community this afternoon.”