Thursday, April 30, 2009

Response: April 30, 2009

The following email was sent out to the dance and theatre listservs, from Carl Flink's email, co-signed by both Carl Flink and Dr. Ananya Chatterjea.

Sub: Dialogues on Equity and Diversity
Date: April 30, 2009 4:40 PM

Dear TAD Department Faculty, Staff & Students:

On Tuesday morning, Ananya and I had a very positive and constructive conversation with Office for Equity and Diversity (OED) Vice President and Vice Provost Rusty Barcelo, Associate Vice Provost Louis Mendoza and Assistant Vice President Rickey Hall, as well as CLA Dean Jim Parenti and CLA Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs Richa Nagar. The discussion focused on next steps the dance program and our department might take in regards to the issues and suggestions raised by the THIS Protest and department students’ responses to it. We also discussed building on the department’s established and ongoing commitment and activities as a University leader on issues of equity, social justice and difference. We thank the leadership of OED and CLA for their commitment to supporting this process of reflection with their expertise, experience and possible resources if needed.

As the end of the semester is fast approaching and full to bursting with departmental activities, we understand the need to take concrete steps to demonstrate the department’s commitment to a collaborative approach that involves all stakeholders even as our time is somewhat limited. To advance this, we want to schedule some conversations that can help us identify a group of faculty, staff and students as a working group to develop an action plan for next fall and beyond.

After consultation with the OED staff, we will convene another department town hall meeting on Tuesday, May 19 from 10 – 12 p.m. Faculty, students and staffers from throughout the department are invited, however the meeting will be divided into two discussion groups: one will focus specifically on an action plan for the dance program, the second will focus on an action plan for the broader department. The purpose of two conversations is to provide a much needed space for the dance program community to convene to address its specific needs in this process while also facilitating a parallel and supporting dialogue for the department. These meetings will focus on where the program and department should go in the coming year and beyond. These meetings will be team-facilitated by department leaders and OED staff members.

We understand that May 19 is after the academic year has ended, but OED, CLA and we thought that it made more sense to schedule this meeting shortly after students, faculty and staff have completed the business of the academic year.

Vice Provost Barcelo has also generously offered to meet directly with dance program core faculty, affiliate faculty members and students to identify specific issues these groups face and would like addressed. These meetings will be planned in the next three weeks or in fall semester if that timing makes more sense.

We look forward to working with you all in the coming months on these critical and sensitive issues. Because of our students, staff and faculty, we think our department is uniquely positioned to make great progress on these very important matters.

Carl Flink
Chair, Theatre Arts & Dance

Ananya Chatterjea
Director of Dance