Mary E. Graham, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Sport Management, has been named Falk College associate dean of faculty affairs effective Jan. 2, 2024. This newly created leadership position reports to Falk College Dean Jeremy Jordan and is dedicated…
Chancellor Syverud Addresses University Senate Oct. 25
Chancellor Kent Syverud addressed University Senate at its meeting today. His remarks were as follows:
Thank you, Professor Reed. My remarks will be brief. I don’t need the full time allotted, and I’ll answer questions after the provost’s remarks.
I’d like to start by acknowledging that it’s been a really challenging time these past two and a half weeks.
I appreciate how deeply our campus is feeling the terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel, the escalating conflict, and now the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. I am grateful for your support of your colleagues, your students, faculty, and staff, especially those with family, friends, and loved ones in the region. On campus, there have been peaceful vigils hosted by both Jewish and Muslim student organizations that have welcomed students from many faiths. The Maxwell School hosted a panel that provided space for an academic discussion with experts representing multiple disciplines and perspectives. And tonight, the University’s 14 chaplains and 27 religious and spiritual life groups will co-host an interfaith peace vigil in Hendricks Chapel.
There have been incidents in classrooms and around campus that have been challenging for our students and faculty. Concerns about those incidents are being run through the University’s appropriate processes with great care. It is important that we don’t overreact and that we don’t underreact. Provost Ritter will address some of the ways Academic Affairs is providing guidance and resources to faculty in a moment.
We have students, faculty, and staff from all over the world, many of whom hail directly from the impacted region. We are a university that is committed to being welcoming to all. Living up to that is especially important and sometimes difficult in times like these.
This includes how we support our Jewish students, especially those with loved ones and connections in Israel, and our Muslim students, with loved ones and connections to Gaza. I continue to call on our community to show kindness, grace, empathy, and compassion to all our students, faculty, and staff—particularly those who are suffering and grieving, and to do this regardless of your individual views and perspectives.
Many people in this country are unhappy with how universities are handling these issues. I have heard from members of this community who are both happy and unhappy with this university’s response. Our official communications have been proactive. We’ve been trying to be very careful in them. We are driven by our moral obligation to all in our community, that includes students, faculty, and staff. Community members do have the right to speak out on their personal perspectives as individuals. The University’s official communications are our best effort to speak on behalf of our entire community and to continue to foster a community that holds together and is welcoming to all. Because we are a real university with a wide array of people and views, I would not expect everyone to agree with the University’s official communications. But I do think almost everyone here does agree that our students who are struggling deserve our diplomacy, sensitivity, and kindness.
At a time when, across the country and around the world, there is a rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic threats and violence, our students really are on edge, and we need to listen to them. I assure you that we are taking appropriate measures to keep our community safe, and will continue to do so.
The only other thing I wanted to talk about today is employee benefits. Prior to the last Senate meeting, I shared a memo and several additional documents to engage faculty and staff in the benefits process.
The information outlined a new proposed process to incorporate faculty and staff input on any proposed benefits changes. I’d like to try this experimentally starting next month, and I had requested your feedback before I implemented that experiment.
I have received some feedback, particularly encouraging me to specify how the Senate bodies are going to be engaged in an ongoing basis in the benefits review process. I will specify that shortly. I have also received at least one proposed change in benefits internally for 2025 that I am deferring to this experimental process. I’ll incorporate any other suggestions I receive, including at this meeting and today, and get this process started next week. I want to remind folks that this was the result of a lot of people’s efforts over the summer, including the working group that Eric Kingson and Andy Gordon chaired. I thank everybody who has worked on it.
I think we should all give this a chance and see what its results are and honestly assess it at the end of the year in the Senate. I will specify steps in the process for ongoing engagement by Senate committees when I get this out next week.