Dear Campus Community,
This has been another exciting semester as our campus – and the world – continues to emerge from the challenges we faced during the height of the pandemic. However, even those challenges – and they were many! – did not stop our students, faculty and staff from doing the important and vital work of a university, from conducting wide-ranging research, publishing and presenting exceptional scholarship and continuing our collective efforts toward greater self-reflection as a college.
Much of that self-reflection centers around diversity, equity and inclusion – a campus core value reaffirmed in our 10-year strategic plan, Tradition & Transformation. This important and, at times, difficult work is being done in every corner of campus, from the planned historical interpretative signage being coordinated by the Committee on Commemoration and Landscapes, to the Faculty Senate’s general education curricular changes addressing issues of race, equity and inclusion (REI).
The curricular change is one that deserves special attention. I want to thank co-chairs Anthony Greene (African American studies) and Morgan Koerner (German and Russian studies) and all of the members of the Faculty Senate’s ad hoc REI committee for their hard work on the proposal. This initiative solidifies and institutionalizes our campus core value of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Last fall, the Faculty Senate approved the committee’s proposal to include six credit hours of coursework into our degree requirements in order to better infuse themes of REI into our curriculum. This spring, the Faculty Senate also passed a resolution about the implementation of the new curricular requirement in order to allow the successful planning to take place and set a timeline for presenting this proposal to the S.C. Commission on Higher Education (CHE) in the next academic year.
This new requirement represents much thought and hard work, and I want to again thank the members of the Faculty Senate and others on our faculty for their efforts on this important and necessary initiative. Our students will be better prepared to engage and to lead in a world desperately in need of greater understanding, empathy and knowledge of diversity, equity and inclusion.
At this time, the Provost’s Office is working to identify the program’s inaugural faculty director, who will serve in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, our faculty hub of inquiry and collaboration. The College will also continue its work to identify and develop courses that will fulfill this new curricular requirement, to be approved by the CHE and added to the course catalog.
In the same April Faculty Senate meeting, senators also passed a resolution regarding a defense of academic freedom in teaching and research. As their resolution states, academic freedom is critical to the proper functioning of universities. Therefore, the College of Charleston fully supports the joint statement condemning efforts to restrict education about racism, which was authored by the American Association of University Professors, PEN America, the American Historical Association and the Association of American Colleges & Universities (of which, the College is a member). This statement in defense of academic freedom has been endorsed by more than 140 academic/professional organizations. Proposed legislation targeting academic freedom in our state did not reach the “crossover” deadline in the S.C. General Assembly, meaning, most likely, those bills will not be considered further in this legislative session.
In closing, I want to commend our faculty and staff for everything they have done to make this year successful. Success on a college campus sometimes defies easy definition. It can look very different, from department to department, office to office, person to person. But whatever form it takes, success is occurring throughout campus because our faculty and staff care about our students, care about their colleagues and care about this institution. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that our spirit at the College of Charleston cannot be broken because our work is too important and too necessary right now to ever fail. Thank you to all of our faculty and staff for your extraordinary efforts. It makes all the difference in our shared success.
Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D.
College of Charleston