Mission Initiative Moves Ahead
Launched last spring, Occidental’s mission initiative to improve the climate in the classroom and on campus continues to move forward on a variety of fronts. Here is an update on our efforts so far.
Dr. Donna Maeda has been appointed special assistant to the president for mission initiatives to keep the campus focused on campus climate and related issues. She will chair a coordinating working group and other advisory groups and will be the "point person" in the president's office for mission initiatives. In light of President Mitchell's resignation, the reformulation of the Council on Access and Achievement will be placed on hold until his successor is selected next spring.
- The Rev. Diana Akiyama has been appointed interim ombudsperson and has started the process of defining the role of permanent campus ombudsperson.
- Dr. Kikanza Nui Robins ’72 has been engaged to work with faculty and staff to help create a positive and respectful campus climate for everyone. The first in a series of workshops was held with administrators and staff on Aug. 2, with about 300 people participating. She also will assist in planning other mission initiative training sessions and conversations.
- The Faculty Council and the Center for Teaching Excellence have begun to address the development of training for faculty to sustain an open classroom climate and dealing effectively with interpersonal conflicts in class. Faculty Council has created a new committee to develop additional methods of evaluating courses related to classroom climate. The CTE is focusing on diversity issues in its “Talking About Teaching” workshop series this semester.
- The 14 new tenure-track faculty members who arrived in August are participating in a year-long teaching seminar that will include mission initiatives.
- Under the leadership of Dean of Students Barbara Avery, the process of providing more training for ResLife staff in intercultural, interpersonal and intergroup relations began this summer in the annual training programs for RAs and area coordinators. The same issues were addressed at the annual student leadership retreat.
- This fall's first-year/transfer student orientation program included a mandatory session on inter-cultural relationships.
- The Faculty Planning Committee has received a proposal for the creation of a new interdisciplinary major called Critical Theory and Social Justice, one the FPC hopes to present to the full faculty for consideration this spring.
- Interim Dean Eric Frank and Irene Girton, interim associate dean of arts and humanities, are working with the Faculty Planning Committee to develop a job description for a tenure-track professor to serve as chair of the Women's/Gender Studies program. The position has already been approved, and the current plan is to have the position filled for the 2006-07 academic year.
- A discussion of how to integrate inter-group and interpersonal studies into the CORE and LLC programs was included in the Aug. 23 training session for faculty teaching first-year seminars. In his role as associate dean for curriculum, Mickey McDonald is now at work on a comprehensive reinvigoration of the critical studies component.
- The College is identifying consultants to help develop interpersonal and inter-group studies modules for departments and programs.
- A proposal for credit-bearing student initiated courses needs to be developed for consideration by the Curriculum Committee. Students are encouraged to work with the Dean of the College on this issue.
- Prof. Nalsey Tinberg, director of assessment and retention, has begun work on an annual retention evaluation program with particular emphasis on underrepresented students. A 14-member retention committee has been formed to help with the process.
- Summer intern Penny Saephan ’05 worked with Associate Dean of Sciences Phoebe Dea on a division-wide Scientific Scholars Achievement Program aimed at increasing the success of students who may be under-prepared or underrepresented in the sciences. Saephan researched similar programs at other liberal arts colleges and assessed resources on campus available to start such an effort. A pilot program will begin this fall in a classroom in Fowler reserved in the evenings for group study, tutoring, peer support, and social activities.