First All-College Workshop Held
Almost 300 staff members and administrators gathered in Thorne Hall for an Aug. 2 all-campus workshop that led to a frank and searching examination of campus culture and the College's mission in a series of small group conversations.
Led by the Rev. Dr. Kikanza Nuri Robins '72, a highly regarded organizational development consultant, the workshop was the first in a series of efforts to address concerns raised by students last spring about the College's commitment to community. "It was an extraordinary day, and the beginning of a long conversation," said Interim President Kenyon Chan. "This workshop was a first step toward our commitment to a better community."
Small group discussions were the chief feature of the workshop, which concluded with lunch in the Quad. Participants were asked to discuss a series of questions, including the identification of important College paradigms they want to protect, as well as those they would like to change. Reports delivered to the group after everyone reassembled made it clear that while there is much to celebrate at Occidental, there also is a sense that too often individual departments work in isolation from others. Several groups said their members felt a lack of respect or appreciation for the work they do, and offered suggestions as to how that might be remedied.
Whether or not they delivered an oral report, each small group was asked to deliver their written comments to Nuri Robins, who said she will use them to plan the next phases of the program. Among those will be the engagement of faculty and students in similar conversations with staff after classes resume on Aug. 31, Chan said.
"Although students and faculty were invited to participate in this first workshop -- and I was delighted to see some faculty colleagues there -- I realize most are not available during the summer months," he said. "We look forward to initiating a broader conversation in the fall."