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December 19, 2023

Dear Pitzer Faculty, Students and Staff,

Many of you have heard (and read) me speak of my plans to create a presidential initiative on constructive dialogue around challenging issues. As the next step in that process, I am convening a campus organizing committee to plan events and facilitate programming to advance our goals in this area. The organizing committee’s overarching purpose will be to contribute to the development of a vibrant and inclusive campus culture where individuals feel heard, respected, and empowered to engage in meaningful conversations that contribute to enhanced and shared learning and understanding, as well as personal and collective growth.

The organizing committee will develop, plan, and implement programs that encourage productive interactions and communication, embrace diverse perspectives, and promote an inclusive, collegial, and engaged community of learners. The committee will be dedicated to fostering a culture of open and constructive dialogue on campus and beyond, based on the following initial goals and objectives to:

  • Facilitate Constructive Conversations: Organize events and workshops to enhance communication skills, active listening, and empathy. Create brave spaces for open discussions on sensitive topics.

  • Promote Inclusivity: Develop programs that embrace diversity and inclusivity, securing effective participation from students, faculty, and staff.

  • Collaborate Across the College: Partner with field groups, student organizations, and administrative areas to integrate new dialogue initiatives with existing programs. Collaborate with faculty to incorporate elements into curricula.

  • Assess and Get Feedback: Establish a system for ongoing assessment and feedback to measure the impact of the initiative. Regularly review and adapt programs based on findings.

  • Build on Success: Develop a communications strategy to raise awareness about the importance of constructive dialogue on campus and the initiative itself. Showcase success stories and positive outcomes resulting from programs and the initiative.

Organizing Committee Structure: The organizing committee will be co-chaired by a tenured faculty member and a senior staff member. Co-chairs will share responsibility for leadership and functioning of the committee, align activities with goals and objectives, and represent the committee to the broader Pitzer community. The committee will collaborate with a wide range of campus constituencies, as appropriate. In addition to the two co-chairs, committee members will include:

  • Two faculty members, selected in consultation with FEC;
  • Two students, selected in consultation with Student Senate;
  • Two staff members, selected in consultation with Staff Council, representing and in consultation with Academic Affairs and Student Affairs;
  • Administrative support provided by Student Affairs Office Coordinator

Next Steps: I will invite a faculty member and a member of senior staff to serve as co-chairs of the organizing committee. We will then populate the rest of the committee, which will begin its work as soon as it is formed. In the meantime, senior staff and I are already at work identifying and planning programming ideas to support the goals of the initiative.

I am excited about the good work this committee will accomplish. Stay tuned for further details, including announcements of initial program activities, in the new calendar year. In the meantime, I wish you all a restful and replenishing winter break. See you in January!

With warm regards,

Strom C. Thacker

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