Welcome to Haverford's 2023-24 Academic Year
As the academic year commences, President Raymond offers campus updates.
Welcome to the 2023-24 academic year! It’s great to be with you on this gorgeous campus filled with incredible people. I feel energized and uplifted by you and all that you bring to Haverford. Last night as my dog Peanut and I took a walk on campus, it was great to hear students’ vignettes about great first-day experiences in their new classes. I’ve been hearing lots of praise from families, new students, and returning students about so much these past two weeks: pre-orientation programs, academic advising, move-in, Customs week, our new Walton Field, and plenty more. It all points to the “wow factor” you bring to our collective investment in creating a values-based, engaged, and fun learning community.
This year, we begin implementing our community-created strategic plan Better Learning, Broader Impact – Haverford 2030. In the plan, we distilled the essence of Haverford into this mission statement:
Haverford College offers students better learning for broader impact as scholars, creators, citizens, and practitioners. Committed to critical inquiry and ethical practice in local and global settings, we foster an inclusive intellectual learning community to prepare students for lives of integrity, ambition, and purpose.
To me, these words capture the ways we prepare students for bold expression and ethical leadership through an incomparable residential liberal arts education. For generations, Haverford students have used their four years here to develop their minds, sharpen their skills, and challenge themselves to find their paths, callings, and ways of paying it forward as they are taught, supported, mentored, and enriched by peers and our amazing faculty and staff. I thank you all for joining me and each other in this important work.
Here are some notable updates as we begin the new academic year.
Every summer, my Senior Staff colleagues and I take stock of the year just completed and then look ahead to the future in order to set annual leadership goals. I share Senior Staff’s leadership goals with you and the Board of Managers to promote transparency, coordination, and connections around these foci. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and questions about them.
Haverford 2030: Implementation
With last year's formal adoption of our strategic plan Haverford 2030, our work moves into implementing our shared vision. I encourage our newest community members and anyone who hasn’t yet taken time with the plan to spend fifteen minutes with Haverford 2030. Created through collaboration among students, faculty, staff, and alums, this inspiring plan represents our best thinking about next steps for Haverford through the acronym 'ACT': Aspire, Connect, and Transform:
- Aspire…to learn better, to cultivate in our learning environment the practices, modalities, and connections that advance all of us as stronger leaders, collaborators, thinkers, and changemakers.
- Connect…by honoring and deepening interdependent networks that stretch across Philadelphia, the U.S, and the world, Haverford seeks to work more effectively and equitably by realigning structural and operational support for collaborative community scholarship and practice with external partners; to expand ethical inquiry and leadership within the curriculum; and to provide paid summer internship, fellowship, language study, or research opportunities for every Haverford student.
- Transform…by aligning our institutional policies, practices, and infrastructure to prioritize sound financial management, care and concern for its people, respect for the history of the land on which the College is located, and responsible environmental stewardship.
As I shared with you in my August 29 email, Implementation Committee 2030 (IC2030) is now assembling 14 initiative teams that will advance the plan’s various priorities. If you would like to share your ideas about any area of the plan, please do so by emailing planning [at] haverford.edu.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access
The work toward a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible community is never-ending. Fortunately, so is Haverford's commitment to becoming an antiracist college where everyone can thrive. By working together, we have made much progress over the past several years, and I'm pleased to report that we are now fully staffed in the division of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Access. Among their many undertakings, this summer, Vice President for Institutional Equity Nikki Young and her team have been working on a new Bias Policy (and procedures) and will launch focus groups to solicit feedback from the community before fully implementing the new policy/procedures during this academic year.
This will be the second year for our collective campus reading experience that is designed to open eyes, minds, and hearts to the challenge and promise of DEIA. The selected work is discussed by incoming first-years and new transfer students during Customs and throughout the entire fall semester. And everyone – students, staff, and faculty – is invited and encouraged to read this text together and participate in related programming throughout the academic year. (Stay tuned for invitations!)
This fall we'll explore How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective. A path-breaking group of radical Black feminists, the Collective was one of the most important organizations to develop out of the antiracist and women’s liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s. In this collection of essays and interviews edited by activist-scholar and MacArthur Fellow Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, founding members of the organization and contemporary activists reflect on the legacy of its contributions to Black feminism and its impact on today’s struggles. Professor Taylor will offer a public lecture on campus October 3 at 7 p.m. in Jaharis Hall; please mark your calendars.
Thanks to our friends in the library, you can access a free digital copy using our Ebook Central system. All first-year and new transfer students received a paperback copy upon their arrival to campus, and other students may retrieve copies from the Dean’s Office (Stokes 101) on a first-come, first-served basis.
Response to Supreme Court Decision
As you are likely aware, this June the United States Supreme Court ruled that race-conscious admission programs at Harvard University and University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill are unconstitutional, reversing decades of legal precedent affirming practices that have played an important role in efforts to enroll diverse student populations at Colleges across the US. Last year, Haverford joined an amicus brief in support of affirmative action in college admission, and we are deeply disappointed with this outcome. Nonetheless, our commitment to access and to the building of a diverse community remain unwavering.
The Court’s decision presents real challenges for Haverford and all of higher education. However, Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Jess Lord and the entire admission team have focused significant energy, before and after the ruling, crafting approaches going forward that both ensure we comply with the law and continue to support our mission at the highest levels possible. This work ranges from changes to the application process to give students as much opportunity as possible to tell their story, collaboration with peer institutions in efforts to establish new best practices, and investments in new and more robust recruitment approaches. You can be confident that our commitment to enrolling a richly diverse student body is unshakeable, and that we'll do all we can to achieve our goals.
Faculty & Staff Compensation Study
Haverford devotes 60% of its expenditures to the compensation of faculty and staff. Faculty and staff make the College run, build relationships with students at the core of our educational processes, and bring life to the College’s mission. The College’s recognition of the value of our people drove our commitment to conduct a comprehensive study of our compensation program, in order to enable the College to attract and retain industry-leading, diverse talent in a community of trust, concern, and respect. I'll detail our ambitions and plans for the study in a forthcoming message. For now, I can tell you that the study includes a survey, and I hope that every member of faculty and staff will take the time to complete it so that all voices can be heard.
Comprehensive Campus Planning
With Haverford 2030 articulating our strategic aims over the next seven years, the time is right for us to produce a “Comprehensive Campus Plan” to envision how best to connect indoor and outdoor spaces with educational and residential programming in the context of how we wish to learn, work, and live together. We have hired the firm Sasaki Associates, whose team brings deep architectural and planning expertise, to work hand-in-hand with a campus steering committee led by Vice President for Finance & Administration Nico Washington and me to conduct a broadly inclusive campus planning process that taps the wisdom, insights, and creativity of our faculty, students, and staff as we imagine the future of our shared campus.
We don't wait for comprehensive planning to update and renovate campus facilities, and this has been a busy summer for such work:
- The new entrance from Armat Avenue in Ardmore, near the Duck Pond, provides a welcoming gateway to and from the adjacent neighborhood. It includes a new crosswalk, accessibility modifications to existing sidewalks, and rain gardens to collect runoff before discharging to the stream. I thank our Ardmore neighbors and members of the Haverford community, including students in Molly Farneth’s spring 2022 class “Religious Organizing for Racial Justice” for collaborating with Facilities staff toward this improved connectivity.
- We replaced the Bookstore roof, aka the COOP terrace, of Whitehead Campus Center to prevent leaks into the building – particularly in the Bookstore – during significant rain events.
- Our Department of English is housed in historic Woodside Cottage. A new addition, scheduled for completion next month, will provide an accessible entrance to the Meditation Room along with an accessible restroom for the entire building.
Learning About Haverford 2030’s Appeal To Prospective Students
We are working with Art & Science Group to help determine how elements of Haverford 2030 can most effectively be translated into strategies that maximize the plan’s impact on Haverford’s ability to attract and enroll the students we seek. The study will inform how we develop, prioritize, and implement various strategic initiatives to ensure that we are delivering the kinds of educational experiences that best serve and prepare our future students. A steering committee of faculty and staff, coordinated by Vice President and Chief of Staff Jesse Lytle and me, designed the project and is starting to review preliminary findings from this work. I look forward to sharing the fuller results with you as the project progresses.
We have largely lifted restrictions on campus activity that we previously adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some remain, however, such as our vaccination requirement for students. The emergence of new COVID variants bears watching, and we continue to receive guidance from our panel of health advisors (which was constituted to help us plan and implement our response). On Monday, Dean of the College John McKnight and VP for Finance and Administration Nico Washington sent an informative email to campus. The 'Be Safe' website will remain the go-to place to find current COVID policies and guidance.
We are pleased to welcome leaders in several key areas of College operations who joined us this summer. Kim Spang is our new vice president for Institutional Advancement, a vital division that manages our philanthropic outreach while engaging alumni, families, and friends of the College in support of Haverford. You'll get to know Kim as she updates us on fundraising and “friendraising” progress, as together with alums and friends of the College we grow our financial endowment and work toward multiple goals of Haverford 2030.
As our new executive director of the Center for Career and Professional Advising, Marissa Deitch brings more than 20 years of experience working in career services in higher education. Marissa will lead and work alongside a talented team of CCPA colleagues with partners across campus and the globe to advance the career-related goals outlined in Haverford 2030.
Mike Boyle is our new leader of Administrative Auxiliary Services, our colleagues who manage dining, the mail room, events, and many other essential aspects of campus life. Mike and DC manager Tom Mitchell have instituted a number of exciting enhancements to the dining experience, including a new app that will enable you to easily share feedback about your experience in the Dining Center. From questions and concerns, to kudos and 'have-to-haves', if it's on your mind, Mike and his team want to hear it! Look for the signs and companion QR code on DC napkin dispensers and bulletin board posters.
Please join me in welcoming our new visiting and new tenure-track faculty. Provost Linda Strong-Leek and I, along with their students, colleagues, and the many of you who helpfully participated in relevant searches, are thrilled that these scholars have decided to join us here at Haverford.
I wish you a wonderful academic year, filled with expansive opportunities to learn, question, grow, and contribute, together. Thank you for all you bring to Haverford. Bring it!