Spring Semester Welcome Back

From: Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., President
January 24, 2019

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

It is wonderful to see our campus fully come back to life now that students have returned from the break. I hope all of you enjoyed restful time with family and friends over the holidays and that your travel back to campus went smoothly despite this past weekend’s storm.

We open Spring semester each year with our annual Multi-Faith Community Prayer Service. As we gathered yesterday afternoon in a crowded Mary Chapel, it struck me how this service which celebrates our religious diversity is such a fitting way to begin a semester in which we will continue to seek God’s help as we intentionally become the inclusive, compassionate, and engaged community we wish to be.

Near the end of last semester, the campus community put its daily routines on pause in order to participate in the ENGAGE Summit, where we considered how we will work together and move forward on some difficult community conversations which affect all of us. The work that began last semester has continued over the winter break, and will be ongoing throughout this spring. A few items that will be coming up quickly include the following:

  • Next week I will announce the membership and the mandates of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Sexual Respect and Conduct planning groups that I announced in early December.

  • We are launching a new website where we will track College initiatives and action steps related to campus climate, diversity and inclusion, and sexual respect and conduct. This will go live next week and we will be updating it continuously.

  • This semester we will be conducting campus climate surveys and asking for your participation. We will begin with a student survey, which will launch soon. A similar survey for faculty and staff will follow in the coming month or so. These surveys will provide a snapshot of our campus climate, and the results should be helpful to the work of the planning groups.

There will be continued opportunities to ask questions, provide feedback and ideas, and to engage in strengthening our community this semester. Earlier this week, Dean Michele Murray announced weekly open office hours and a monthly Dean’s Forum. The Department of Public Safety is planning a series of Q&A sessions starting in February. The Title IX Office will be holding weekly open office hours and will continue the listening and information sessions that they began last semester. And in our classrooms and across our academic disciplines there are numerous opportunities to apply theories and address our shared concerns from unique perspectives and contexts. I encourage you to take part in these opportunities, and many others that will be available, in order to learn, to share thoughts and experiences, and to engage one another with open minds and hearts.

While we continue this work, our days also will be consumed with our typically rigorous schedule of academic and co-curricular work, community service, practices, retreats, rehearsals and meetings. We will celebrate the accomplishments of our classmates at Academic Conference, in our theaters and in our athletic arenas. We will impact various communities on our campus, in Worcester and beyond.

I look forward to living and working alongside you and celebrating this extraordinary community this semester.