I would like to welcome everyone back to campus for the spring semester. I hope everyone had a restful break. I too had a good one, and took the time to reflect upon the first semester of my presidency. I did not realize how difficult it would be to communicate my work to the student body, so Nicolette and I have done some thinking on how we can better use all forms of media on campus, including forums and discussions (such as the student state of diversity talk on February 1).
As we begin our endeavors to make our office more accesible to students, we will use this weekly column and other media outlets to inform the student body of our newer, more open modes of communication. I also realized that if I want to garner feedback and input from students, I need to make a bigger effort to actively seek out the students, rather than waiting for them to come to me with their concerns. I plan to devote extra time this semester to campus events. Please inform me of anything you think I should attend. I still can be contacted by e-mail (sbp@ or concerns@) or by phone (412-657-3953).
When Nicolette and I ran for office, one of the biggest issues we saw facing this campus was diversity. Granted, it was the hot-button topic from the election, but we truly believe in improving the state of diversity on campus. And we continue to work on this topic: I am a member of President Cohon’s Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) and worked on the MLK Committee; Nicolette has been heavily involved in the Multicultural Presidents Council. We are working as quickly as possible, but it is important to understand that improvements will take time, and some won’t happen until most of us have graduated.
Since making these improvements will be a slow process, you might be wondering why I am writing this now. I had an amazing discussion with Dr. Bell (the keynote speaker on MLK Day), students, faculty, and community members that I wish everyone could have witnessed because it made such an impact on me. The very next day, I entered a class I am taking titled “Blacks and Jews in U.S. History,” which I signed up for simply because I am interested in history. However, I now believe it will further enlighten me on diversity issues. I encourage everyone to take a class like this one, one that has a large and diverse population. As I continue to study and learn from this issue, I will update you on our attempts to improve diversity at Carnegie Mellon.
I hope everyone has an enjoyable and challenging spring semester and looks forward to Spring Carnival.