To: All Faculty and Staff
From: Ken Ruscio
I want to bring you up to date on a variety of matters, and to seek your comments on a couple of pending issues.
The Washington and Lee University catalog contains an elegant and artfully crafted expression of our institutional philosophy. (See pp. 9-10 of the catalog or http://registrar.wlu.edu/catalogs/current/Introduction.pdf.) Approved in 1988, it remains, in my opinion, a clear statement of our institutional values. During the recent strategic planning, we also adopted a vision statement that guided the development of the plan. In preparation for the upcoming Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation process, we have now drafted a formal mission statement, which is, in effect, a distillation of the mission statement in our catalog and the vision statement from the strategic plan:
"Washington and Lee University provides a liberal arts education that develops students' capacity to think freely, critically, and humanely and to conduct themselves with honor, integrity, and civility. Graduates will be prepared for life-long learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society."
The Board of Trustees will take up formal approval of this statement at its May meeting. Before then, I invite your comments, which I will summarize and pass on to the board. Please e-mail them to email@example.com or send written comments to the President's Office in Washington Hall.
Washington and Lee lacks a formal policy for employees about consensual relations. To clarify our expectations, especially with respect to relations between students and employees, we have drafted such a policy. I invite your comments, which the provost (in her capacity as chief academic officer) and the vice president for finance (in his capacity overseeing Human Resources) will review before they finalize the policy. Please e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or send written comments to the President's Office in Washington Hall.
To establish stronger partnerships between the University and community organizations, we will soon begin a community grants program. Nonprofit and service organizations in Lexington and Rockbridge County will be able to submit proposals for support from a W&L fund. In the next fiscal year, we will devote $50,000 to this initiative. I will appoint a committee to oversee and promote the program, establish guidelines, and choose the successful proposals. You can find an overview of the process and a further explanation of the committee on this site. This will be an important step in fulfilling our commitment to build a strong community beyond the borders of our campus.
As you will recall, I established four task forces last year to study various aspects of work at Washington and Lee.
The groups have made considerable progress. The Child Care Report, for example, is complete. The Committee on Women and the committee examining the grievance process will submit their reports by April 1. Our study of the general work climate at Washington and Lee, which we have conducted with considerable help from the Mercer Consulting Group, has provided extensive recommendations, and we are continuing the analysis.
I deeply appreciate all the work that has gone into these efforts. The members of the task forces have devoted many hours to careful study, and many employees have been generous with their own time in responding to requests for their opinions and for information.
In my discussions with employees and with the members of the task forces, it is clear to me that some common and overarching themes have emerged. In mid-March, I will schedule times when I can meet with all University employees. You'll be able to hear my preliminary impressions, the lessons I have learned, and a plan for considering the specific recommendations from the task forces and integrating them into a comprehensive approach. This will be a steady, deliberate and careful process. Our objective is to develop a supportive and professional environment for all our employees. I firmly believe we are at an important stage in fashioning a community of trust and respect.