An update from the Chair

A message regarding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts at Coe from the Board of Trustees and Board Chair Ken Golder: 

I write to share an update with the Coe community about the endeavors underway at the college in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and to draw your specific attention to several actions taken by the Board of Trustees. We recognize an institution’s history, policies and practices require critical and honest self-reflection, and we are committed to taking action whenever possible to make Coe a more inclusive and equitable college. This work is among the highest priorities at Coe and although we still have much more work ahead of us, I want you as students of the college to be informed of how your Board of Trustees is moving to address these important issues.

During a June 2020 meeting of the Board, the Trustees unanimously passed a resolution that set forth several key action steps related to DEI, including requiring anti-bias training for all current and future board members, providing for a standing agenda item for DEI topics at all future board meetings to assure appropriate oversight and priority be given to these concerns, directing the college to further develop anti-discrimination/anti-bias courses and programing for students, establishing a mechanism to evaluate the names of campus buildings and endowed chairs, and, directing the administration’s continuing work with key student groups to address several concerns raised by Coe’s students over the summer.

At our recently completed January meeting, the Board participated in anti-bias training conducted through an outside professional facilitator, and we anticipate future opportunities to continue our collective growth so that we can work to make the college more diverse and welcoming for all students, faculty and staff. To more fully embed these concerns in our governance structure, the Board also amended the college’s Bylaws to form a new committee devoted to DEI issues. The committee will be chaired by Coe Trustee Robert Darryl Banks ‘72, and will consist of several Trustees, Interim President David Hayes ‘93, members of Coe’s senior staff and three students representing a diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints. The committee will review the college’s programs and operations related to racial justice, diversity, equity and inclusion on a consistent basis to ensure Coe continues to improve its efforts in these areas, as well as continue the work set forth in the June resolution.

Beyond these specific actions of the Board and throughout the fall term, faculty, staff and students have engaged in training and programming to broaden their knowledge of and sensitivity to diversity, equity and inclusion issues. Faculty and staff participated in workshops through the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, as well as anti-bias training sessions. Many more educational opportunities will be available this spring. The college administration has provided paid time off so that employees can participate in these activities during the normal work day.

I would also highlight the work of Coe’s newly created Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. These staff members are dedicated to ensuring every student at Coe feels welcome and valued, and they provide a wealth of resources and learning opportunities to the college community. Toward that end, many campus partners and offices have prepared a full schedule of Black History Month events and I invite you to participate in these activities and opportunities.

Finally, Coe’s administration and the Board of Trustees continue to connect with our students of color and student organizations including the Black Self-Educated Organization (BSEO) to ensure their voices are heard. Their input and concerns are of the utmost importance to us as we move Coe forward and seek to always do better for our students. Working to address some of the concerns raised by our students, Coe has expanded scholarships, made improvements to the BSEO house, expanded counseling services, and offered faculty and staff training specifically focused on microaggressions.

While much of my message today highlights the commitment of Coe’s Board, I recognize that true progress in this area will be not the work of a few, but stem from the collective efforts of our entire college community. I encourage and invite you to join us on this journey, share your suggestions and reflections, and help us build a better Coe experience for each and every Kohawk. Together we can fully deliver on Coe’s mission to deliver a life enhancing liberal arts education within a safe, welcoming, diverse and inclusive campus for all members of this college.

Respectfully,

Ken Golder ‘82
Chair, Coe College Board of Trustees