Messages and Updates from the President
Click on the links below to read the latest news and updates from Dean College President Kenneth Elmore.
Messages and Updates from the President
April 3, 2023
On April 3, 2023, Chancellor Edward M. Augustus, Jr. announced he will be stepping down as Chancellor of Dean College effective April 14, 2023. Read the below message from the Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Dear Dean Community,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Dean College, I extend my sincere gratitude and thanks to Edward M. Augustus, Jr. as he steps down from his role as its first Chancellor. We thank him for his years of service to Dean College as a Board Member, and for his contribution at a critical moment in Dean’s history as we turn toward a new era of growth and development.
Mr. Augustus’ vast experience in public life and deep knowledge of Dean was of great benefit to the College during a moment of significant and historic transition. Mr. Augustus brought reassurance to our campus that Dean can and will flourish into the future built around a new vision and fresh thinking.
Consistent throughout his relationship with Dean, Mr. Augustus shared the devotion to our students, and our unique culture of inclusion and support that makes our College so meaningful to those who study and work here, The Dean Difference.
Until the end of June, Mr. Augustus will be working as a Special Advisor to the Chairman of the Board. We wish Mr. Augustus the best of all futures.
With sincere appreciation,
Mark D. Boyce, Chair of the Board of Trustees
Can I get down on Presidents Day? Must one have been George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or the head of the states to make a claim to Presidents Day?
I’m taking a president's prerogative and staking a claim to the day.
Louie Z attended my investiture ceremony, took notes during my speech and went on to create this song, Opportunity (I even got songwriting credit).
I was so in a zone during the ceremony that I asked, “Did I say that? Sounds too profound.
For me, this is a love note to Dean College as well as a flattering scoop of coolness with a handful of hip-flavored sprinkles. A flattering tribute to a regular-ole-president.
Many thanks, Louie Z!
Peace.Kenn ElmorePresidentOccasional Lyricist
Regarding the Unfolding Tragedy at Michigan State
Last night when I was notified about the shootings on the Michigan State campus, my body was awash with a boiling heat for several minutes – it was my struggle with personal feelings of cynicism and nihilism around gun violence. I suppressed the urge to wallow in my despair so that I could be ready to extend compassion to the victims and the people who loved them. I also needed to be ready to stand with those in the struggle to end violence as a problem-solving tool – especially violence with a gun – in our society.
This hit home – a person exploiting a free and open campus environment to do harm to students. Our Law Enforcement and Campus Safety are on alert and will continue to keep our safety as the core of their work. I will debrief with them, today, to ensure we remain diligent and prepared. In the upcoming weeks you will receive information regarding a planned campus-wide lockdown exercise.
As a reminder, Counseling Services recognizes that ongoing incidents of violence in our country may be personally unsettling and deeply troubling. Counseling Services is available to support students and is committed to providing a welcoming environment, where all identities, abilities, beliefs, and experiences are recognized and valued – they will give you a listening ear. Students may drop-in at Chapman House for additional support or for someone to listen. Faculty and staff in need of a listening ear should use CompEAP -- our Employee Assistance Program that offers no-cost, confidential support to you and to members of their households.
I am staying encouraged that I – we – can get beyond extending sympathy and prayers to victims of gun violence.
Much love to the Michigan State community and their loved ones,
January 31, 2023
I have been struck by the spectacle of last Friday’s release of police video footage showing the killing of Tyre Nichols by Memphis Police. The news outlet and social countdowns to viewing a fatal beating is appalling. Apparently, our recent reckonings with racial justice and police killings have reaped reading lists and communal gathering to watch the killings as if they were the latest movie release. Although I have chosen, thus far, to refrain from watching the video footage, make no mistake that I stand, unequivocally, with those struggling and fighting for societal and institutional changes that promote racial justice.
We are different thinkers: artists; neuro-diverse; people from perspectives we rarely see highlighted in popular media; people with disabilities; poor folks; the working class; and people who are the first of their generation to experience an education beyond high school. We are also learning what it takes to be listeners, healers, unacknowledged legislators, activists, neighbors, citizens, organizers, and game-changers. Let’s not let this moment go and hope that another will not arise.
I urge you to hold space, for yourself, to organize or attend vigils, to protests, legislate, fix and to come to know each other. I have asked Dean Drucker to reserve time for open discussion this Wednesday, February 1, 2023, from 7-8 p.m. at Marvin Chapel on the second floor of Dean Hall. I look forward to joining the discussion. I have also asked Dean Drucker to incorporate additional ways that we can continue these enduring discussions throughout student life. We will send updates as they become available.
Counseling Services recognizes that ongoing incidents of social injustice, racism, and violence in our country and around the world may be personally unsettling and deeply troubling. Counseling Services is available to support students and is committed to providing a welcoming environment, where all identities, abilities, beliefs, and experiences are recognized and valued – they will give you a listening ear. This week we will be providing drop-in hours for students in need of additional support. Counseling Services is in Chapman House. CompEAP is an Employee Assistance Program offers no-cost, confidential support to Dean College faculty, staff, and members of their households.
Finally, I have been asked to respond on this and several other societal issues. You may find my thinking on how I plan to respond to such requests within the messages and updates section on the President’s website.
This is sad, infuriating, and deeply troubling. If you need to do so, check in with someone. In this moment, I try hard not to let myself be condemned or cursed to hate. I stave off the curse by giving myself permission to get to know others and to hold on to hope.
With much love,
Protocol for Community-Wide Messages, Statements and Media Responses from the President - January 31, 2023
Protocol for Community-Wide Messages, Statements and Media Responses from the President*
The president of Dean College will communicate regularly with the community through a variety of formal and informal mechanisms, including meetings, Dean Magazine, posts to the Dean College website (Messages from the President), and emails to students, faculty, and staff. It is vital for Dean’s president to know what is on the minds of faculty, staff, students, families, alums, and the Franklin community. Your comments and suggestions are always welcomed at email@example.com – they inform the work of the president and Dean’s leadership.
The president has received requests to speak about specific issues. The voice of Dean’s leader is a powerful tool for communicating during good times and bad and the president will use this voice when appropriate. However, the “overuse” of the president’s voice can lead to an expectation that the president should personally respond to a broad range of issues or national and global events, even those that do not directly affect the Dean College community. Such frequent presidential messaging may undermine the regard and importance of a president’s message in times when it is especially needed and warranted and create an expectation that the president “should” respond to every situation, thereby de-emphasizing the importance of other voices in the community.
The following are examples of some, but not all, the situations that may merit a statement directly from the president:
- Crisis situations directly affecting Dean College’s campus and/or our people (students, faculty, and staff.)
- Dean’s campus-wide crisis communications protocol guides processes and procedures during emergency situations on campus, including a serious crime, a weather-related situation, or a major disruption to operations. Text alerts are typically the first communications, with a follow up message from the president largely to provide a broader update and share additional key information and emotional support, when warranted, during response and recovery. At times, a message from the dean or vice president (or associate vice president, assistant vice president, or director) who oversees the area most closely connected to the situation is more appropriate. A decision as to when and how to send messages or statements from the president is advised through the emergency management and crisis incident response structure.
- Matters that affect or are related specifically to Dean College’s core mission of teaching, advising, and mentoring, or where significant national or world events have occurred (i.e., the September 11 attack; the murder of George Floyd; the January 6 insurrection.)
- Matters that are related specifically to Dean College and/or the president’s strategic priorities – educational access and innovation, the baccalaureate experience, Town of Franklin, and other institutional and presidential priorities.
- A tragedy that involves direct impact to individuals or groups in the Dean College community.
- Consideration should always be given to whether other College administrators can and should serve as primary messengers. This applies especially when a situation involves a specific constituency in the College community and the area vice president or dean is the most informed source of information. For example, in situations related to the academic enterprise or faculty, the vice president for academic affairs likely will serve as messenger. On matters specific to the student body, the vice president for student success and campus life or the associate vice president, student life and dean of students may serve as messenger. It is expected that administrators and senior leaders will share plans and draft communications prior to messages being sent to broad constituencies (i.e., College community, students, faculty, parents, etc.)
- In any situation when members of our community may be anxious or affected, our expectation is that Student Life Services will reach out directly to students to make sure that they have the support they need; we expect the same response from Human Resources when faculty and staff members are directly affected. Events or other gatherings to demonstrate support and concern and to share perspectives are supported and encouraged. These events often will be organized by faculty or student groups, though there may be instances when an all-College gathering is warranted and appropriate. Vice presidents may wish to share communication with their respective communities; the dean of the Schools with their students and faculty; and, the director of athletics to share with a particular athletic team. Any such communication is permitted.
- Student or other media responses or interviews.
- The president is committed to maintaining a strong relationship with student media and external news media and will be available to discuss important matters or situations (i.e., strategic planning, broad presidential priorities, presidential decisions directly related to the student experience, news features pertaining to presidential leadership, major initiatives, and decisions, etc.)
However, to provide the most helpful and timely information, in many cases the president will refer a question to another campus leader or expert most closely associated with the topic. To best determine whether the president should comment or is available to comment, or if a reporter is unsure whom the best contact may be, the reporter should contact the president’s chief of staff – Katherine Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org – to assist in quickly finding the best source for information.
When other voices are appropriate
It is important for other leaders throughout campus, all of whom are essential members of the president’s team, to be represented when a supportive, caring, or unifying voice is necessary. Following are examples of situations or circumstances when the president will defer to other campus leaders:
- when a preliminary, or “holding” message is needed in advance of an important presidential communication
- on day-to-day media requests that are more appropriate for subject or topic experts or departmental leaders
- on questions or requests via the email@example.com email address
- when an alum, student or employee is involved in a national incident or suspected of wrongdoing, Dean College will respect due process and the privacy of individuals involved
Channels of Presidential Communication
Multiple channels of communication are available for sharing presidential messages, statements or other responses. Not all channels will be necessary for every message; email, for example, is reserved for instances when a message must reach every member of one of our constituent communities (i.e., all students, all family members and parents, all staff and faculty, all alums), whereas social media may be used to further disseminate an important message or for the president to share personal thoughts or observations, recognitions or good news about Dean College).
Other channels of communication include:
- College-wide email and video directly from the president.
- statements issued through Enrollment Services and Marketing for attribution to the president
- news release on the College webpage
- channels managed by the College, such as Today@Dean and e-newsletters
- messages posted to the president’s webpage (messages will be archived on the president’s page for ongoing reference).
*Adapted with permission from the DePauw University presidential communications protocol.
- Crisis situations directly affecting Dean College’s campus and/or our people (students, faculty, and staff.)
December 5, 2022
“That state of affairs which several distinct ethnic, religious, and racial communities live side by side, willing to affirm each other’s dignity, ready to benefit from each other’s experience, and quick to acknowledge each other’s contributions to the common welfare.”
From: “The American University and the Pluralist Ideal”
After participating in candid conversations and gathering other thoughtful input from many of you, I am encouraged that members of this community are invested in having an environment where pluralism is a common good at Dean College.
It is clear that societal stress manifests itself in campus conversations, classroom experiences, general interactions, and our activism, especially within discussions of racial justice, trans acknowledgement, queer dignity, ethnic and political violence, anti-Semitism and religious animus, and the treatment of the differently abled.
During discussions, I have learned that,
- often, other students – and occasionally, faculty and staff – are a source of exclusionary comments, behavior, and activities;
- there are communities of us that have little interaction with each other;
- many of you expressed a sincere desire for opportunities to get together with others; and,
- faculty and staff have voiced a desire to establish a sense of trust on addressing race and identity-related campus issues and concerns.
Let’s seize this momentum as an opportunity for learning by discovering each other and our humanity; fostering meaningful, authentic friendships; and expanding our individual and collective intellectual, social, and spiritual growth.
Importance of the Social Responsibility, Equity and Antiracism Work Team to Ongoing Efforts
The Dean College Social Responsibility, Equity and Antiracism Work Team was established to ensure an equitable and respectful campus environment for all students, faculty, and staff.
The work of this Team is to coordinate college-wide efforts to advise on critical issues of diversity and inclusion across our campus. It is still important that we see that the presence of this Team is meant to foster a collaborative and proactive approach to work with the campus environment to ensure that the Dean College mission is also true to addressing issues of race, ethnicity, and identity.
The Team also must advise me and College leadership on how this community can best enhance the quality of campus life and help foster physical and psychological safety and security for all members of the Dean College community, including students and employees of color, and other underrepresented, nontraditional, and marginalized communities on campus.
A New Charge for the Work of the Social Responsibility, Equity and Antiracism Work Team
As a new charge, I ask the members of the Work Team to meet, throughout the year, and recommend programs, activities, strategies, policies, and procedures that facilitate cultural pluralism and address institutional systems of privilege, power and inequality. Specifically, I ask the Team to focus on:
- programs and activities that support fear+less, and brave dialogues;
- faculty development and classroom learning;
- curriculum development;
- informal and co-curricular opportunities to strengthen our skills to interact with one another; and,
- gatherings or ways we get to know each other.
I hope you will be active in giving suggestions to members of the Team and to assisting with planning and program implementation.
Finally, I am charging the Work Team to begin by examining structures, programs and systems that support of students in their exploration of who they are at Dean College, specifically by exploring the following questions:
- Do we utilize more than just campus Black, Brown, and Queer faculty and staff to support and advocate for Black, Brown, and Queer student persistence and engagement?
- Are we silencing specific student voices? Do we marginalize certain students?
- What is the satisfaction and retention of students based upon race, ethnicity, identity, and income
- Are we bringing issues of race and gender-identity forward for dialogue and engagement?
- Are we able to respond, recover and rebuild from slurs, vandalism, and other affronts to human dignity that find themselves on the campus?
- What has been effective for educating students, faculty, and staff on issues of social justice and wider community participation and engagement? What innovations are possible?
I hope you will ask yourself these questions and discuss them with friends, classmates, co-workers, and members of the Work Team – here are its members:
- Kristen Holster, Professor of Sociology, Program Coordinator of Social Sciences
- George Martin, Director of Athletics
- Jo-Ann Reid, Associate Professor of English
- Ron Brown, Assistant Professor of Psychology
- Joseph Campbell, Assistant Director of Athletics, Men’s Soccer Head Coach
- David Drucker, Associate Vice President, Student Life and Dean of Students
- Rochell Dennehy, Director, Annual Giving and Institutional Advancement Marketing
- Gavin Estey ’08, Assistant Director of the Arch Learning Community; Student Success and Career Planning
- Alessandra Gordon, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources
- Brad Hastings, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts
- Erin Maher, Associate Director of Accessibility Services; Academic Coach, The Morton Family Learning Center
- David Rowell, Associate Professor, Program Coordinator Arts and Entertainment Management
- Edward Weston, Executive Director of Events and Executive Functions
Let’s always keep in mind that this is not a charge solely for the Work Team. It is a call to action for all of us.
The President’s Commitments
As president, I assume responsibility for the overall implementation of enhanced plans for inclusion and belonging. In addition to being executive director of campus events and executive functions, Edward Weston will work with me on fostering this campus pluralism. Edward will also work with the chairs of the Dean College Social Responsibility, Equity and Antiracism Work Team and will coordinate continual updates to relevant administrative action plans and activities.
I am also a committed advocate for racial diversification of new faculty and staff and will continue to ask our vice president for academic affairs and the deans of the schools to work with me on antiracism curriculum, courses, and to address student reports of feeling as though they do not belong, unincluded, and unwelcomed in their learning environments.
Our Hopes and Dreams
The goal is to:
- focus on our intellectual and social development around issues involving ethnicity, culture, religion, race, and identity;
- embrace the cultures that we bring to Dean College; and,
- provide a welcoming community that draws on the College’s own diversity in the service of students and learning.
We want to offer our students the opportunity to deal with difficult ideas and uncomfortable situations and build the confidence they need without sealing off large parts of the College, and the campus, to guard against certain ideas and viewpoints – students must be able to navigate the bonds that unite them as well as their disagreements. We – faculty, staff, and students – must also respond and react, together, to uncomfortable and volatile words, promises, and behavior.
This is a vision for Dean College to get closer to being a model for living a pluralist ideal. This is also a moment for continued discussion with each other. I will arrange for community discussion sessions, after our intersession break, in January. I hope your schedule will allow you to participate in a session.
The timbre of the times demands that we examine ourselves and understand – and own – our experiences, and that we engage facts critically and with rigor. I hope this allows us to confront each other as human stories and to discover that we cannot move forward in isolation – together we must agitate, build, and create an honest place at Dean College, in this community and in the other places where we live, work, and socialize.
The Work Team and I will be back in touch with updates.Be and stay well,Kenneth Elmore
August 8, 2022
I am writing to you for the first time in my new role as the fourteenth president of Dean College. It is so good to see you and to see your work, first-hand.
First, I am grateful to Dr. Paula M. Rooney for the solid foundation she has built that positions us for continued success. I am especially grateful to you for your continued guidance, advice and insights into a place and community rife with engagement, consistent and strong mentoring, curiosity, and care. You have made sacrifices and given your life to advancing education and to keeping the mission alive, here. Thank you – I am eager to continue to empower and enable you to do your best work.
I am an intellectually curious and creative soul. Intentional, mission-driven communities have served me well. My experiences in these spaces, made education my “calling.” Personally, it is not a cliché to say that education changed my life. I am a person who needed access programs and financial support for my education. I have spent thirty-four years working in higher education, primarily caring for students and enhancing their experiences. From afar, I was drawn into the College’s mission to provide exceptional experiential experiences; liberal arts with strong professional programs; and the potential for work in theatres and studios to change the world, permeated with a deep ethos of care and human respect. I am thrilled that I can join you in fostering and living The Dean Difference.
The timbre of the time may seem daunting: threats to democratic societies and their institutions, colliding pandemics, war, economic uncertainty, racial injustice, violence targeted at human identity and existence, climate change, gun violence, and the struggle to come to know each other. As a devotee to Dr. Howard Washington Thurman, I am committed to being curious enough to ask questions and to be a thought partner about how we can address these unyielding and difficult social and political issues. I hope I – we – can set the example for how what we learn in classrooms, theatres, studios, workspaces and through informal interactions can make the differences we want to see in the world. I am eager to be a collaborator in these efforts.
Finally, a true story. Just prior to my move to Dean College, a stranger stopped me on the street. This person, who I never met, knew that I would soon be joining this community and told me that I have one more thing to do. When I asked them, “What?”, this undiscovered brother responded, “You will know.” So, while my work includes weighing priorities, asking questions, and being an active presence on and off campus, I am still on a path of discovery and hope you will continue to help me discover what I am intended to do. Throughout this academic year, Chancellor Augustus and I will solicit your thoughts for meaningful, future goals for Dean College. In the more immediate moment—the next few months – I am still exploring and want to hear from you. Each week, I have time available – hopefully – over a cup of coffee – to listen to your personal hopes, dreams, and what you are most passionate about at Dean College. I welcome you to stop by my office on the second floor of Dean Hall or to send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time to connect.
I could not have anticipated such a warm embrace from you. Thank you, in advance, for the new heights you will take my empathy and how you will teach me to be an even better human being.
In humbleness of mind and simplicity of heart,
Kenneth Elmore, J.D.