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Responding to the White Report Recommendations

To the University Community:

In an ongoing effort to share the process of responding to the Report of the Independent Investigation and creating a transparent campus dialogue, I would like to provide an update on our action plan.

We now have a website with an overriding theme of “Cultivating a Culture of Respect.” In it, you will find an outline of each of the recommendations of the Report as well as other climate-related issues under review. Information will be updated regularly to show progress and include timelines for key steps. I welcome your comments or questions through the “Share Your Feedback” link.

Work has begun in earnest on all of the recommendations in the Report, some of which I will highlight below.

The Report recommended appointing someone with relevant experience to oversee the implementation of 12 specific recommendations. I have emphasized to many of you in our initial conversations that the Trustees have asked me to personally lead the University’s efforts in developing and implementing appropriate actions. I see this as my primary responsibility, but in the longer term I do anticipate appointing someone to a senior level position overseeing our efforts in diversity and inclusion. To assist with the immediate task, I have appointed Emily Cihon Fehnel, Assistant Dean of the College and Deputy to the Dean, to serve as my Deputy in coordinating our efforts and responses. Emily was instrumental in serving in a similar role on the Presidential Commission on Race and Diversity, which I co-chaired two years ago with Paul Burgett, Vice President and Senior Adviser to the President. Emily’s experience makes her particularly well suited for this assignment.

In addition, a trustee committee is being established in response to the recommendation that members of the Board of Trustees oversee implementation of recommendations and compliance with deadlines.

The Report recommends that the University develop a list of personnel who can serve as advisers to claimants and accused parties in matters involving claims of sexual harassment against faculty members. We are taking that charge more broadly and are currently considering training options that will allow us to identify advisers throughout our campuses. In the meantime, you can always reach out to our University Intercessors, Lynnett Van Slyke,, and Frederick Jefferson,, or by calling 275-9125. Our HR Business Partners are also available and knowledgeable to advise on matters relating to staff.

I want to be sure that this process includes input from faculty, students and staff and incorporates the results of a lot of hard work taking place across our University. The Faculty Senate has created two committees that are working to propose revisions to the Faculty Handbook in terms of the Intimate Relationships Policy and the Grievance Policy. Another Faculty Senate working group, along with representatives from IT and the Office of Counsel, is focusing on the IT Policy. The Faculty Senate is working in collaboration with the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia on many intersecting issues. The student Task Force to Review Sexual Misconduct Policy aims to publish its own set of recommendations in March. The recommendations of these groups, and others, will be taken into account as we deliberate about the issues before us.

In an earlier message, I referred to a revised Vision Statement for the University that is under construction and will include an expression of the University’s core values. I anticipate having a community discussion about those principles in the very near term.

I look forward to sharing more progress updates and hearing your valuable input as this process continues.

Richard Feldman
Interim President Designate