Equity and Inclusion: Call for VPEI Search Committee Nominations

Dear Colleagues,

I write today with an update on the consultation process regarding the work of equity and inclusion at Bates that I announced in September and that is ongoing this semester. I also write to invite nominations and self-nominations for a search committee to lead our effort to identify Bates’ next Vice President for Equity and Inclusion (VPEI). 

Launching a Search

Even as we continue to explore as a community how we can better organize ourselves to do effective and sustainable work across the college on equity and inclusion, it is important that we constitute a search committee and launch a search for the next VPEI within the next several weeks, with the goal of having a new leader in place by next fall. This will be an appointed committee of faculty, staff, and students, representing a range of academic fields (for faculty), functional responsibilities (for staff), expertise, identities, career stage, and experience with equity and inclusion work. We will work with students in a separate process to identify the student members of the committee. 

We will be assisted in the search by a search consultant whose experience and expertise are focused in the area of equity and inclusion. The search process will build on what we are learning from the consultation process currently underway (described below), and will include, as well, more targeted outreach focused on the VPEI position itself. Public health conditions permitting, we will plan to have campus visits by finalists, which typically include a candidate presentation open to the entire community as well as opportunities for candidates to interact with an array of constituencies, individuals, and small groups. 

If all goes as planned, the work of the search committee will take place largely over the course of the winter semester, with campus visits in the first two weeks of May. The search process will be well organized from a scheduling and logistical point of view so that participation is not overly burdensome for the committee, freeing members up to focus on substantive engagement. One of the initial tasks of the search committee will be to develop the description of the role and responsibilities of the next VPEI and how these are positioned within the overall organization of equity and inclusion work on campus.

Update on Consultation Process

As we head into this search, we have the benefit of what we are learning from the outreach and consultation process that began this fall and will continue through the winter semester. In undertaking the outreach effort, our goal was to gain greater clarity and specificity about the needs of various members of our community, the work to be done by the next VPEI, and the kinds of organizational models we should consider in order to balance a distributed approach to meeting the needs of individual constituencies with leadership at the institutional level.

A team consisting of Gwen Lexow, Tonya Bailey-Curry, Jennifer Blanchard, and myself has spent time this fall consulting with various members of the Bates community to:

  • Solicit views about the challenges we have faced and continue to face in achieving a college community that more fully embodies the values of equity, inclusion, antiracism, and belonging;
  • Identify the differing needs and desires of various constituencies within the campus community;
  • Understand the range of thinking within the Bates community about what has worked well, less well, or not at all, in the past; and
  • Invite ideas for how we can be more effective in our approaches within individual areas and across the college as a whole. 

We began our consultations in the fall with a series of individual and small-group conversations on campus in order to frame our approach to the more structured consultations to follow. We also met with outside consultants and search firms, and we reviewed the structures and staffing used for equity and inclusion work at other liberal arts colleges to understand different organizational models. Our goal has been to gain insight from the experience and expertise outside Bates to open up our thinking and to identify individuals whom we might wish to call on for assistance in various areas in the future. 

We took advantage of certain standing meetings during the fall to engage on issues of equity and inclusion, and we began a formal outreach process in December with groups of faculty. We will be holding a series of meetings with faculty, staff, students, and alumni beginning next week and throughout the winter semester, both in specific groupings and in open sessions. We will share with the search committee what we are learning so far in order to inform its work, and we will provide an update to the entire campus community once we have completed the consultation process.

Making meaningful and sustainable progress on equity and inclusion at Bates is vital to the lives and futures of every member of the Bates community; to the support and success of historically marginalized students, faculty, and staff; and to the integrity and vitality of the college as a whole. We cannot make progress without the engagement and help of the entire campus. I hope, therefore, that anyone interested in this work will consider nominating themselves or other colleagues for the search committee or will participate with the search and consultation processes in other ways. 

Please send your search committee nominations and self-nominations to VPEIsearch@bates.edu by Friday, January 28. Please feel free to share any questions, ideas, or other thoughts as well.

Thank you very much for your interest in, and ongoing commitment to, the work of equity and inclusion at Bates.

All my best,