Campus Climate Follow-Up
Dear Members of the University Community,
Earlier this week, I sent a message expressing hope for communal renewal and rejuvenation and a desire to seek “more” for our community. I write again today to share some positive news that reflects important good work and progress.
A little over a month ago, our community received the results of the Campus Climate Survey. Along with areas of strength, the report revealed concerns that must be addressed in our classrooms, residence halls, and offices. I have studied the results and listened to community members in forums and other venues. I am proud of and grateful for the valuable work that so many of you have done to promote an inclusive and respectful culture at Santa Clara for many years. But the Climate Study results remind us that much more needs to be done, both immediately and in the future. Here are just a few of the first concrete actions that are already underway to address some of the needs and concerns communicated in the survey’s findings.
At Santa Clara, we aspire to recruit, retain, and cultivate a student body that reflects the diversity of the world around us. I am pleased to share that over the past five months alone, more than $5 million in gifts and pledges have been raised for scholarships for first-generation students, Cristo Rey students, and students of color. Some of these scholarships will be awarded to next year’s incoming first-year class and be distributed as soon as Fall 2019.
We know that living in Silicon Valley comes with challenges unique to this region. The survey results reaffirm that the high cost of housing makes it difficult for many faculty and staff to find suitable affordable homes. Just last week, we announced our application to convert an underused parcel of land into new housing opportunities for our faculty and staff. If approved by the City of San Jose, this development could support up to 295 units-- netting a significant increase from the 91 rental units that we currently offer.
To ensure that our commitment to improving diversity, inclusion, and sense of belonging for faculty, staff, and students is institutionalized and sustained, I have allocated resources in the next budget cycle to enable the University’s next president to create a new senior-level leadership position focused on this important work. This is a direct response to recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and Inclusion and the Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion. The Climate Study results emphasized the need for such a position. While the next president maintains the ability to shape specific details of this position, allocating room in the budget now will help accelerate the placement of a senior strategic leader in this role.
Next Monday, I will gather the Cabinet, Deans, and other senior leaders to continue our ongoing work on strategy, action, and communication in response to the Climate Survey’s findings, and next month, I will discuss additional strategies with the Planning Action Council as we continue to respond meaningfully to the needs we heard so clearly. As further progress is made, I will provide periodic updates.
It is central to our shared Jesuit, Catholic mission to support those in our community who are vulnerable and marginalized. None of us can be satisfied until all members of our community feel respected, included, and valued. I am personally committed to this vital work, and I invite you to join me in taking collective ownership of our campus culture and its improvement.
Michael E. Engh, S.J.