Trustees and the Future of Wesleyan

This past weekend the Board of Trustees gathered for its annual fall retreat. At this meeting, Trustees and Representatives to the Board discuss a range of issues important for the future of the University. We began on Friday night with conversations about equity and inclusion. Over the last year a task force of Trustees has been discussing how we can better ensure that all people on campus feel they are full members of our community and engaged in our educational project. Everyone at the retreat had taken implicit bias tests in advance of the meeting to better understand how even when we have the best of intentions, prejudice can affect our thinking.

We resumed our meetings Saturday morning with a discussion of the role of residential fraternities on campus, based on recommendations that I had made to the Board after a summer of collecting input. During the course of the weekend, the Board and I agreed on some changes described in a message that went out from Joshua Boger and me this morning. The message reads, in part: “With equity and inclusion in mind, we have decided that residential fraternities must become fully co-educational over the next three years. If the organizations are to continue to be recognized as offering housing and social spaces for Wesleyan students, women as well as men must be full members and well-represented in the body and leadership of the organization….Our residential Greek organizations inspire loyalty, community and independence. That’s why all our students should be eligible to join them.”

Saturday’s discussion moved on to campus life generally and how we might make it as educationally potent as possible. As a residential liberal arts school, it is crucial that outside the classroom our students are being prepared for life after graduation. Trustees shared the ways in which their own experiences on campus have affected their lives beyond the university.

The retreat continued with discussions of how Wesleyan is perceived by prospective students, the campus community, alumni, parents and the academic marketplace. We had vigorous conversations about what Wes stands for today, and how we want our school to be perceived 25 years from now. What should we be doing now to ensure the brightest future for alma mater?

Over the weekend, I witnessed many ways in which loyal and hardworking trustees, students, faculty, staff and alumni are devoted to Wesleyan. It’s a devotion stemming from powerful experiences and strong memories joined with the aspiration to make our university even stronger and the experiences of students going forward even more powerful.

3 thoughts on “Trustees and the Future of Wesleyan

  1. When the Deke spokesman, quoted in The New York Times, speaks of “a 150-year-old tradition,” and the Beta spokesman says that the fraternity “seeks to strongly underscore its belief that there is a purposeful place on college campuses for young men to come
    together and forge the bonds of fraternal brotherhood as they develop
    academically and prepare for a lifetime of civic duty,” it reeks of sexism
    and an elitist “good old boy” system of male domination of business and
    politics.

    “Tradition” is code for perpetuation of the status quo for the reigning power elite.

  2. President Roth:

    With equity and inclusion in mind, are you also requiring that black students be well-represented in the body and leadership of the Chinese House, or that white students be well-represented in the body and leadership of the Malcolm X House? The hypocrisy and politically correct lunacy that are palpable in this latest edict are unfortunately what Wesleyan has become best known for since I graduated in 1979, a year after you did. In our day, the student body leaned left, but the school was welcoming to all. Now it is a place where when I asked a campus tour guide if she ever heard any conservative voices on campus, she earnestly replied that in your four years at Wesleyan, “you might meet a Republican.”

    And what has this changed dynamic wrought? In our day, almost no student would have chosen to attend Bowdoin, Middlebury or Haverford over Wesleyan. Now, according to Parchment.com, Wesleyan loses the majority of these cross-admit battles. In your ongoing adherence to the latest politically correct extremes of the progressive movement, you and the Board of Trustees have made Wesleyan unwelcoming to a significant segment of prospective students, and as a result meaningfully reduced the diversity on campus that matters most– diversity of thought.

    Charley Hurst ’79

  3. President Roth and BOT members – while many of us applaud the process you undertook to come to the important (difficult) decision concerning Greek life this past weekend, I wanted to know, in light of that news and other info printed about our beloved alma mater this month (e.g. USNWR/Forbes rankings etc..), if consideration was made to canvas the alumni base and HIRE A (NEW?) STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS/CRISIS MANAGEMENT/ PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM who could provide consistent, high quality advice about (positively!?) presenting “the messages from Middletown” to the wider consuming audience? As a loyal and dedicated alum, it just seems we are usually on the defensive when presented in the media!

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