I announced creation of the Commission on Campus Climate in April. Given the brutal attack on Dr. David Warner and the underlying fear and anger among some parts of our community sparked by that attack, I felt it was critical to pull a group together to explore possible long-term solutions to issues of race and marginalization. The response in the weeks since that time has been overwhelmingly positive; literally hundreds of faculty, staff, students, and community members have either volunteered to serve or took the time to nominate whom they thought would be most effective as a commission member.
Among those who volunteered was Dr. A.G. Rud, former dean of the College of Education and now Distinguished Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Dr. Rud is a prolific and respected scholar specializing in the cultural foundations of education. As many of you have read in recent press reports, I asked Dr. Rud to chair the Commission on Campus Climate and he graciously accepted.
I appreciate his open and proactive approach to this very important endeavor. He already has met with representatives of WSU faculty who have outlined their desires for the work of the commission. “One key issue,” Dr. Rud says, “is how marginalized people and/or minorities perceive campus climate. There are some who get along very well here and others who say, ‘no, this is not a welcoming environment.’”
Over the summer, Dr. Rud and I will work to evaluate all of the nominations and offers to serve that we have received. It is my expectation that we will have appointments to the commission completed and announced by the beginning of fall semester. We also will refine the group’s formal charge. Then the hard work will begin.
As I said when I created the commission, this will not be “just another task force.” The commission will be developing an action plan, not merely a set of recommendations. Dr. Rud concurs. “We have reached a tipping point with issues of race and marginalization and civility on this campus. What happened to Dr. Warner has set us back in our ability to interact with each other; I want the commission to move us forward.”
I couldn’t agree more.