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Timeline of the Engaged Pluralism Initiative

December 2015: Then-president Catharine Hill and Deans Marianne Begemann and Jon Chenette bring three ideas for possible development into full proposals to a meeting at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation offices in New York. Mellon requests that Vassar develop one of these into a project to create a more inclusive and equitable campus environment that promotes the success of all members of the community. They hope to see something innovative that could become a model for other campuses.

Spring 2016: Dean Chenette invites faculty to share ideas about inclusion and belonging that will contribute to a proposal to the Mellon Foundation.

July 2016: Dean Chenette becomes Interim President. He accelerates work on developing a vision of inclusion for the campus and begins to solicit broader participation in developing a proposal for the Mellon Foundation.

Fall 2016-Winter 2017: As Liaison to the President and Senior Administration for Race and Inclusion, Associate Professor of Anthropology Candice Lowe Swift meets with student leadership in ALANA Center organizations in order to gain a sense of the changes that students would like to see happen on campus. She and Interim President Chenette host dinner discussions that enable students to voice their visions and concerns to senior leadership directly.

February 2017: After consulting with students, faculty, administrators, and the incoming president, Elizabeth Bradley, a final proposal is submitted to the Mellon Foundation.

March 30, 2017: The Engaged Pluralism Initiative (EPI) is announced. (Read the announcement here.)

Spring and Summer 2017: Students, faculty, staff, and administrators are invited to participate in the selection process that results in the hiring of Rankin & Associates as climate assessment partners. The EPI co-chairs send an all-campus email to invite campus members to serve on EPI-related working groups.

September 13, 2017: President Bradley sends a letter to the Vassar community about the new initiative. (Read the letter here.)

September 14, 2017: In the first EPI World Café, members of the newly-formed working groups assemble to share and generate ideas.

Fall 2017: The EPI working groups begin to meet regularly to craft vision statements and propose pilot projects related to their areas of focus.

October 23, 2017: Facilitators with Rankin & Associates Consulting come to campus to conduct focus groups, as part of the comprehensive Climate Assessment process.

November 9, 2017: Students, staff, faculty, and administrators from across the college gather to generate ideas with the EPI working groups at the second EPI World Café. This World Café also features the exciting work of students in the Fall 2017 Participatory Action Research course (ANTH 382), taught by Candice Lowe Swift and Wendy Maragh Taylor. Students present research projects on Mental Health Education and Outreach at Vassar, Dining Services, and Health Services. In conjunction with the World Café, community members have the chance to record their answers to questions about their Vassar experience in a sound-recording Cube set up on the lawn outside Main Building.

December 7, 2017:Student researchers in the Participatory Action Research course (ANTH 382) present their findings, having worked in groups to investigate the experience of Vassar community members, including Dining Services and Custodial Services employees, as well as students seeking health services on campus. The course, taught by Candice Lowe Swift and Wendy Maragh Taylor, focuses on methods for research on social organizations and on linking research to action.

February 28, 2018: Engaged Pluralism collaborates with the Campus Life and Diversity Office in planning the 18th annual All College Day. In addition to a full day of programming (including a workshop and keynote lecture on "Implicit Bias in the Academy and Workplace" by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University), EPI includes as part of All College Day 2018 an invitation to our community to recognize and appreciate the roles that staff play in our ability to live, study, and work on campus. 

March 28, 2018: In celebration of the Vassar Student Association's sesquicentennial, the President's Office, the VSA, and EPI co-hosts a campus-wide conversation about what it means to be a Global Campus. The event includes a panel discussion moderated by President Elizabeth Bradley with remarks by Ruoyu Li '19, Maya Sudarkasa '18, and professors Himadeep Muppidi, Jodi Schwarz, Lisa Paravisini-Gebert, and Maria Höhn.

April-May 2018: All Vassar community members are encouraged to share their perspectives via the Campus Community Survey.

May 3, 2018: As a follow-up to the workshop and keynote address presented by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity on All College Day in February, EPI hosts a lunch workshop for administrators and faculty about implicit bias. Psychology faculty members Michele Tugade and Abigail Baird present research on implicit bias and the potential uses and limitations of Implicit Association Tests, and attendees brainstorm possible next steps for addressing implicit bias on campus.

May 10, 2018: At the third World Café of the year, EPI working group members present projects they have been working on, and students in the Spring 2018 Community Engaged Research course (Anth 260) present research projects on nightlife at Vassar, the history of Campus Life and Diversity, sexual assault, and rituals at the president's house. President Bradley and other senior administrators in attendance are excited about considering recommendations that students make based on their research. In addition, Vassar community members responding to a call for proposals for new projects that will advance the aims of the initiative have the opportunity to present those projects and solicit new group members to work with them on realizing their ideas.

May 15, 2018: Members from all the EPI working groups meet in the Vassar Farm Barn to share experiences from this year. Consultant David Berg leads the group in a workshop where administrators, faculty members, and students have the chance to reflect in groups on what about the EPI process has worked well, what challenges different constituencies face in participating in the working group process, and what we have learned together from an amazing year of community building and thinking big.

May 18, 2018: After pitching the idea of a The Global Campus and Studies Initiative at the World Café on May 10th, the student organizers of the initiative jump into action, holding a gathering of faculty, students, and administrators from different disciplines, perspectives, and experiences just a week later. The group engages the question “What does it mean to be a global campus?” and the dilemmas that higher education in the US faces as our campuses try to become more "global."