Satish Udpa named Acting President – Jan. 17, 2019
Dear College of Education Community,
This week, the university reached another turning point, with the MSU Board of Trustees ending the appointment of Interim President John Engler, effective January 17, 2019.
While much has been done in recent months to put resources and policies in place that can protect and support survivors of sexual violence, our university community still has work to do. Moreover, that work goes beyond addressing the prevention of and response to sexual misconduct and relationship violence, to also focus on many issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.
A year ago, all of the deans on campus came together to identify and work toward three core values:
- Foster and protect a culture that is transparent, open, trusting and safe
- Continuously cultivate leadership through caring and accountability
- Empower everyone to be fully engaged in a community that is inclusive and equitable
We shared these values with the Board of Trustees when the university first began a search to replace its president, and this week we stood together in asking that action be taken in response to Engler’s hurtful pattern of comments toward the women and girls we are striving to support. Now more than ever, we must show leadership that is not only accountable and transparent, but also compassionate.
In the College of Education, we have long aspired to do work that embodies these values. Many of our instructional programs aim to instill these values in our students, and to give them knowledge and skills to act on them. Much of our research and outreach work is aimed at understanding the forms and sources of inequities, and at developing ways to make improvements. We believe, however, that we too often fall short. One proposal from our faculty governing body is a new standing committee. This group will share responsibility with me for making recommendations to improve persistent and systemic conditions concerning our college climate regarding faculty equity and diversity. We have established a staff committee with a parallel charge. The core values listed above will guide our collective efforts to move our college forward.
New Acting President Named
The MSU Board of Trustees has unanimously appointed Satish Udpa as Acting President. Udpa previously served as the Executive Vice President for Administrative Services, and as the dean of the College of Engineering. I have always been impressed with the ways in which he works and with his accomplishments. The search continues for a permanent president for our institution.
I am hopeful that with new leadership, we can return our focus to healing for the survivors of Nassar’s abuse and to creating a campus where we have not only the policies and resources but the will to prevent such abuses from ever happening again.
I welcome your comments and concerns.
Pittsburgh Gun Violence – Nov. 1, 2018
Dear College of Education Community,
The recent shooting in Pittsburgh has shaken many in our college’s community, as we manage our initial emotions following Saturday’s act of violence. It touched our lives and, coming together with other recent acts of violence, showed that there are no completely safe places. To help restore faith in the places where we live and work, I encourage each of us to model kindness, compassion, and empathy for one another.
After our initial responses of sorrow and sympathy for those directly affected, I ask you all to think about what you can do as educators to restore norms and civil discourse and behavior that have been eroded in recent decades. How can you help our students, who are preparing to teach and care for others? How can you ensure that our students know what resources, such as counseling services, are available to help them as they are affected by such tragic events? In the spirit of community, I urge us to explore these questions together and share strategies across groups.
Recently, I attended a reflection space organized by college leaders Lynn Paine and Dorinda Carter Andrews and am thankful for their leadership in this effort. My own thoughts were about how troubling I find the increasing tribalism and partisanship in our country, and elsewhere around the world. I wish that schools did more to help students learn to engage with others on contentious and difficult issues. I also wish schools would do more to help students understand the history of struggles with injustice, here and abroad, learning from past events as they take actions to make the world a better place. Those who attended the reflection space appreciated having the chance to talk about their reactions and thoughts about how to work with others on ways forward personally and professionally.
The coming weeks will allow us more opportunities to collectively explore how we do our best work as educators during these times. College leaders, including Drs. Paine and Carter Andrews, are discussing what next steps to take and welcome your input.
Town Hall & Resources – Feb. 11, 2018
Dear College of Education Community,
The past few weeks and months have been hard, upsetting and challenging times for many of us. As a community, we have started engaging in conversations that will help to begin healing and build a culture that’s more trusting, safe and accountable.
The Michigan State University College of Education held a town hall meeting on Feb. 6, 2018 where I described what I knew of recent events. Faculty, staff and graduate students talked about their feelings, questions and concerns and also suggested next steps. We are compiling a summary from the event to use in guiding our next steps. In addition, I plan to meet soon with the undergraduate Student Leadership Council.
I am saddened by the past, present and future suffering Nassar caused. I am also deeply troubled that issues of violence, abuse and harassment on our campus extend beyond this one terrible case. I hope the leadership and commitment many of you have shown will contribute toward changes needed for MSU to be more transparent, open, trusting and safe.
We must stand in support of the survivors of sexual assault, including members of our college community, and offer them the support they need. The resources listed below are now available. I am working with other deans to determine what additional resources are needed, as well as to identify changes that will reduce the time needed to obtain help from the existing resources. If you have suggestions regarding additional resources that are needed, please send them to me.
Michigan State University resources
- Sexual Assault Program, Crisis Line: (517) 372-6666
- Safe Place
- Counseling and Psychiatric Services
- Office of Institutional Equity (OIE)
- Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Program
- Our Commitment website (with information about the Healing Assistance Fund)
- Police Department, (517) 355-2221
- Safe Ride
- Educational Assistance Program
Local and national resources
- End Violent Encounters (EVE), 24-hour Crisis Line: (517) 372-5572
- Community Mental Health, (800) 372-8460
- National list of resources for sexual assault survivors and their loves ones
Change and Rebuilding Trust – Jan. 25, 2018
Dear College of Education Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Friends,
The statements from Nassar’s victims have been heart-wrenching. I can barely imagine the ways that they and their families have suffered, and continue to suffer.
I admire the bravery the women showed in speaking out, and only wish that their voices had been heard and heeded much sooner. As educators, we have a special responsibility for creating environments where people feel empowered to speak, and those in positions of power are ready to listen. We also need to ensure the safety of the students in our programs.
As our university leadership changes, priority must be given to making changes to our university culture that will support speaking out and listening. Rebuilding trust will take time. Open communication will be crucial. I am committed to both.
For those who want to reach me, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I will find time for a phone call or meeting.