Message from the President
We in the Wesleyan community have long understood diversity to be an educational asset. I am proud to announce Making Excellence Inclusive, an initiative drawn from the American Association of Colleges and Universities. This initiative is meant to assist us in identifying ways to further institutional inclusion: that is, to further the intentional engagement with diversity in ways that increase awareness and empathic understanding of differences that may divide us but that also may educate us. Many regard Wesleyan as a place of thoughtful diversity, a place at which differences are not merely tolerated but embraced. Others worry that we have developed a culture of political correctness that stifles dissent while pretending to celebrate cultural distinctiveness. It is time that we ask ourselves what diversity means for the curriculum, for co-curricular programs on campus, and for all the people who make up the Wesleyan community.
This initiative challenges each of us to think about the level of our own engagement with diversity and discuss with our colleagues how inclusion can be strengthened within our particular areas. Assisting in these efforts will be a Presidential Task Force tri-chaired by Sonia Mañjon (vice president for institutional partnerships and chief diversity officer), Mike Whaley (vice president for student affairs), and Rob Rosenthal (provost and vice president for academic affairs). After facilitating a series of conversations with all campus groups – from the Board of Trustees to the first year students – this task force will review the results of the conversations and, by summer 2012, make recommendations for how we can better make use of our diversity as an educational asset.
I am proud that Wesleyan has been celebrated as a place for creativity, civic engagement and diversity. But we need to do more. We have been exploring how we can make creativity a more visible and powerful component of our curriculum through the Creative Campus Initiative. Through our work on university engagement, we have been re-imagining how to better educate our students to become more effective and thoughtful citizens. In similar ways, Making Excellence Inclusive should assist us in our ongoing effort to develop diversity as an educational asset.
At Wesleyan we seek “to build a diverse, energetic community of students, faculty, and staff who think critically and creatively and who value independence of mind and generosity of spirit.” This is our mission, our challenge. Making Excellence Inclusive provides us with another opportunity to rise to that challenge as we continually create a liberal arts institution that, in the words of its first president Willbur Fisk, fosters “the good of the individual and the good of the world.”
Michael S. Roth, President