Monday, April 20, 2009

Responses: April 20, 2009

We received permission to post the following email, which is a response to our Open Letter to the Office for Equity and Diversity from Dr. Nancy “Rusty” Barcel√≥, Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity and Diversity at the University of Minnesota:

Sub: Re: An Open Letter to the Office for Equity and Diversity
Date: 4/20/2009 7:08 PM

Dear us:

I have been watching with interest the events unfolding within the U of M Dance Program. I, and others on my staff, attended the town hall meeting and offered the services of our office as soon we became aware of the concerns. I am pleased that you have requested our assistance and we stand ready to help in any way we can.

I spoke by phone with Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Richa Nagar on Friday morning, April 17, 2009 to discuss ideas I had about addressing the complex array of concerns raised by "THIS" protest.

The mission of the Office for Equity and Diversity is to support and enrich the experience of students, staff and faculty on campus by fostering mutual understanding and respect that builds on the strengths and synergy resulting from diverse experiences and perspectives. These values will guide us in our work with all members of the Dance Program.

I believe the most important first-step our office can take is to work with the students, staff, and faculty of the Dance Program to develop a constructive, intentional, and systematic process to address the concerns raised. The multifaceted range of issues that have been identified, including concerns with climate, policies, practices, communication, and governance, require a long-term commitment. Meaningful change requires patience and sustained engagement, the ability to listen and the will to act. I see the potential for our work together to serve as a model that can be used across campus for turning difficult dialogues into an opportunity for creative transformation.

Having said this, I also want to make my office accessible to you in a way that you feel will be most effective to resolve these issues, so I want to work with you to determine where to begin and what direction to take. I suggest we meet (or dialogue in an alternative format of your choosing) as soon as possible to explore how we can best begin the work. I am available Tuesday evening, April 21 or Wednesday, April 22 [time redacted]. I can speak with you alone, or, with two of my colleagues, Louis Mendoza and Rickey Hall, who are also available during those times and either of them could be included in our discussion at your discretion.

If one of the above times would work, please respond to this email. If these times do not work for you, or you wish to propose an alternative form of communication that respects your anonymity, I would ask you to contact, Celest Miller at 626-9836 or mill3761@umn.edu to determine another time for our meeting.

I appreciate that you contacted me directly and that you have taken what you feel is a risk to do so. Please know that we take your concerns very seriously and we will do everything we can to support an outcome that is meaningful and constructive for everyone.

Sincerely,

Nancy “Rusty” Barcel√≥
Vice President and Vice Provost


cc: Josh Casper
Ananya Chatterjea
Carl Flink
Richa Nagar