Welcome to the 2022–23 Academic Year!
As the academic year commences, President Raymond offers campus updates.
I am excited to begin this new academic year with you! Welcome to our newest students, staff, and faculty, and thank you for all that you bring to Haverford. I thank everyone for the breadth of talents and perspectives you contribute to this learning community. Throughout last weekend, as I spoke with students, alums, and families at the Dining Center, at alumni/ae matches, or in serendipitous campus conversations, I heard unsolicited praise, over and over, for faculty and staff who’ve indelibly enriched Haverford students' experiences. Whether new to or established at Haverford, you have my gratitude for how you make Haverford a community of collaboration and care. And students: you have my gratitude for being the inspiration for all that we do!
I have a good deal of news to share about campus happenings.
Front & Center This Semester
A redesigned Customs Week ended less than 24 hours before classes began, with Dorm Olympics’ fun, talent, camaraderie, and ingenuity filling Founders Green. Students and staff continue to co-create Customs, our distinctive year-round program that connects peer and professional wisdom and experience with first-year, transfer, and exchange students. Two years ago, the College responded to student advocacy for a more equitable system by changing from a voluntary to a compensated structure for Customs team members. While so much of this important Haverford tradition remains, new features of the Customs program this year include:
- revamping the first-year student support team to include four distinct roles on each Customs Team: a Customs Facilitator (CF) and Residential Student Liaison (RSL) living on each first-year hall, and an off-hall Peer Academic Facilitator (PAF) and Honor Code Orienteer (HCO);
adding new content related to the Honor Code, including a session for practicing respectful confrontation;
introducing peer-facilitated dialogue as a method for discussing social identities and other complex issues;
expanding the focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism, by inviting Dr. Marc Lamont Hill as a featured guest speaker;
offering robust opportunities to explore and begin making reciprocal connections with our local communities of Ardmore and Philadelphia; and
expanding Customs into a full first-year curriculum with monthly convenings of Customs groups.
Strategic planning is approaching a critical juncture. Earlier this summer, its steering committee shared an initial framing draft (Draft 1.0) summarizing areas of interest and overall direction. Shared with more than 15,000 members of the greater Haverford community, the draft generated considerable interest, questions, and suggestions. Version 2.0, set for distribution next week, will address and incorporate much of this feedback as we progress toward a plan that will guide our next chapter of development for Haverford and lay a foundation for a comprehensive fundraising campaign. It's impossible to overstate the importance of such planning fueled by community input: so many campus resources that we might take for granted originated via intentional planning, including numerous academic programs and professorships, the Office of Academic Resources, VCAM, the new music building, and the renovated library – and that's just a partial list of what constituted only the most recent plan. So please take the time to read Draft 2.0 and offer your feedback as we work toward a finalized strategic plan by December.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Work
I encourage you to read the College’s recent antiracism progress report to the Antiracism Accountability and Advancement Group (AAAG), a committee created by Haverford’s Board of Managers in 2021 to provide guidance and oversight of our actions toward becoming an antiracist institution. Our antiracism work is ongoing, and I am grateful to all of you for your interest in and support for our shared commitment. Consistent with this commitment, earlier in August we welcomed Nikki Young to campus, our inaugural vice president for institutional equity and access (a role previously filled by Interim Chief Diversity Officer Norm Jones). Another new facet of our DEI work is a collective campus reading experience. This fall we'll explore South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation. Its author, Princeton University Professor of African American Studies Imani Perry, will be here to engage the full campus on September 20 at 7:00 pm in Marshall auditorium. You can access the ebook for free via Tripod.
Last spring, more than 50% of faculty and staff and more than 40% of students participated in Haverford's campus 'climate survey'. An assessment of belonging and thriving here at Haverford, our professional partners – the independent consulting firm Rankin & Associates – have spent the past five months analyzing data, and will present findings and host several public forums on September 21 and 22. As I promised last spring, College leadership has not influenced the analysis. The survey and the upcoming report are only the beginning of a process designed to provide insights into how we can foster a healthy campus climate where every person feels welcome and can thrive.
New & Notable this Semester
This work and more is included in Senior Staff’s annual leadership goals. Having taken stock of the state of the College, we then set our sights on goals for 2022-23, which I invite you to review here. They focus on strategic planning and campaign planning, support for students and our educational program, support for faculty and staff, and investments in critical infrastructure.
A New Minor, a New Lab
The new academic year brings our newest minor, Tri-Co Asian American Studies, under the leadership of Bakirathi Mani, Shu-wen Wang, Heejung Park, and Lei X. Ouyang. Our Bi-Co Neuroscience major and minor are off to a great start, with strong student participation in their first full year. This is also a moment to celebrate the completion of a new lab in the KINSC for the research group of Dr. Patrese Robinson-Drummer, professor of psychology and neuroscience.
Chesick Scholars Anniversary & Philanthropic Support
This year marks the 10th anniversary of our Chesick Scholars program for first-generation-to-college/low-income students. We'll have a campus-wide celebration on October 30th, and there's cause to celebrate in advance because Haverford has received several generous contributions for the Chesick Scholars Program from alumni, families, and other benefactors. Most recently, Helen Oppenheimer (widow of Martin J. Oppenheimer ‘48) made a generous gift to establish an internship fund for Chesick Scholars. In fact, the fiscal year that closed this summer saw many fundraising successes including gifts and commitments for new and existing student scholarship endowment, faculty excellence, and other Haverford priorities such as the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, several academic programs, athletics, and facilities. About 5,000 alumni, parents, current and former faculty and staff, students, and other friends of Haverford contributed about $18.5 million to the College, including $5.68 million for annual giving, which is instrumental to our annual operating budget.
Haverford in the World
We begin this year in the context of numerous national matters that to varying degrees affect all of us at Haverford. A few updates:
Supporting Race-Conscious Admission
Reflecting our commitment to wide access to a world-class college education, Haverford joined an 'amicus brief' in support of race-conscious admission practices in higher education. Joining this brief, as we did in prior related cases, reflects our understanding of the central importance of a diverse campus community to our mission and the educational experience we offer. The current legal effort is led by a group of attorneys that includes Ford alum Gemma D'Onofrio '12.
Student Loan Forgiveness
We take note of President Biden's recently announced student loan forgiveness plan and the positive impact this will have on some Haverford students and alums. It is also worth highlighting Haverford's own debt forgiveness program, a feature of our overall commitment to minimizing student debt. Students with family income below $60,000 per year do not have a loan expectation included in their financial aid package, and loan expectations for incomes above this threshold remain low, ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 each year. The College also provides additional student financial support when expenses occur outside the regulated parameters of financial aid. Haverford’s LIFTFAR program aims to help fill these gaps on a case-by-case basis for expenses ranging from unanticipated travel home, conference or interview travel, and emergency medical and dental expenses.
Roe v. Wade
Many of you have reached out to colleagues and to me about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protected access to abortion as a constitutional right for nearly half a century. Many states have since enacted laws designed to severely limit or outlaw access to abortion. Currently, Pennsylvania's laws remain unchanged, but there is no guarantee that elected officials will not attempt to limit or even eliminate abortion access in the future. Haverford College affirms human rights to personal agency when it comes to one’s health and wellbeing. We will support and advocate for students’ health to the best of our abilities and within the limits of state and federal laws.
This leads me to highlight that this is an election year, and I highly encourage every eligible person to register to vote and vote on November 8! Newcomers to our community will be pleased to hear that the College hosts a polling place in our Facilities Management building just off the South parking lot. Students, faculty, and staff living within the Delaware County polling precinct that includes most of the College – and who have registered to vote – can simply follow the Election Day signs to Facilities and cast their vote. Our relatively new polling place is here because Haverford community members worked for decades to make this location happen. So come Election Day on November 8, please let your voice be heard in races for US Senate, US House, Pennsylvania governor, and multiple additional offices. Turnout in our district has been inspiring, and I hope I can count on every eligible voter among us to vote. Thank you!
I wish you all the best for a stimulating and fulfilling semester, in which boundaries expand, barriers diminish, and friendships grow. I feel privileged to be here at Haverford with you. I look forward to all that we will accomplish together.