Update from One Merriman Lane: Advancing diversity and inclusion on campus

Dear campus community,

Many of us who work, study and care about Ripon College looked at ourselves in the mirror last spring following the murder of George Floyd and asked, how can we do better? At the time, I wrote to the campus community that institutions (and the individuals who lead and work within them) needed to go beyond words of support and find real solutions to become more inclusive organizations. Our commitment to learning from our community and being attentive to the diversity, equity and inclusion of our students, faculty, staff and alumni remains at the forefront of our thoughts and actions.

In order to meet the moment, we convened a group of faculty, staff, administrators, students and trustees last summer to critically examine our practices with a particular focus on how to improve, among other things, the College’s admission and financial aid policies, use of student support services, hiring practices, and retention and graduation rates. The group came back with a series of recommendations and we have made real progress implementing their suggestions.

Newly endowed scholarships now will benefit students coming from Kenosha and Milwaukee who want to study at Ripon for years to come. Our financial aid policies have been reimagined to make sure that they are fairer and more equitable to everyone. We have revised the way we search for faculty and staff with an eye towards finding more diverse candidates for campus jobs. (In this spirit, we have already made several new hires that will enrich the Ripon community for years to come). Our Board of Trustees and Alumni Board are making sure that their membership continues to reflect Ripon’s historical commitment to hearing different voices and perspectives. And the Office of the President started a new grant initiative to support projects designed to enhance the quality of life at Ripon College with an emphasis on inclusion and diversity.

We are also very proud of our students who have taken the lead in the past year pushing us all to be a better college. With the energy of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, students have organized dozens of public events, marches, meetings with local law enforcement and educated our community about the path forward.

And yet, with all of these accomplishments, there is so much more to be done. On this day, following the verdict in Minneapolis, and on many more days to come, we must recommit ourselves to Ripon’s core values where “differences of perspective, experience, background, and heritage enrich the college [and] relationships are sincere, friendly, welcoming and supportive.”

Best,

Zach Messitte
President
Professor of Politics and Government


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