In Fall 2018, all units in the College of Arts & Letters were asked to identify the top core values of the unit and to map these values onto their primary strategic initiatives to ensure that we are putting our values into practice through our activities. They were also asked to articulate how the unit is advancing a culture of shared accountability and trust based on the values conversations that they have undertaken. This process has led us to identify the follow three core values of the College of Arts & Letters:
- Equity – inclusivity, diversity, social justice, equitable access, accessibility
- Openness – transparency, open process, candor, accountability, open source
- Community – collaboration, collegiality, empathy, respect, connection
In our ongoing commitment to practice inclusion as a matter of institutional habit, the College of Arts & Letters has identified three strategic priorities:
- Enrich undergraduate and graduate education
- Recruit and retain world-class faculty
- Enhance research and creative activity
These priorities are integrated into a holistic approach that advances the mission of the College and the University through the four projects listed below. Intentional focus on these requires that we return to them regularly to ensure that the new possibilities they embody are integrated into the daily routines that will sustain them.
Department of African American and African Studies
Our top priority as a College is to establish the new Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS). We recognize this as a primary way through which we can live out our core value of equity by recruiting and retaining talented faculty and students of color to the College of Arts & Letters and Michigan State University.
Arts Integrated into the MSU Research Mission
In anticipation of and in conjunction with the University Arts & Culture strategy process, we have sought to integrate the arts into the heart of the MSU research mission. To this end, we have undertaken an open and exciting re-visioning and restructuring process in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) and have developed in the Department of Theatre signature initiatives in entrepreneurship and in the creation of innovative sensory-friendly performances for neurodiverse audiences.
Epistemic Exclusion Initiative
In July 2017, the WorkGroup on Epistemic Exclusion (We2) came out with a Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant (CIEG) report (co-authors: Nicole T. Buchanan, Kristie Dotson, Michael O’Rourke, Marisa A. Rinkus, Isis H. Settles, and Stephanie E. Vasko) based on structured dialogues across Michigan State University that focused on issues of epistemic exclusion in the evaluation of scholarship through the reappointment, promotion, and tenure process. In order to put our commitments to equity, openness, and community into practice, the College of Arts & Letters intends to adopt the main recommendations of the We2 CIEG report, including their recommendation that the University undertake a reformation of the RPT process so that it “should be holistic and should emphasize faculty development; the process should begin with the offer letter and be reflected by consistent annual review processes that align well with the T&P process; among other specific elements, the value of service should be reconsidered, especially in light of the inequitable service burden that some faculty are expected to bear.”
Core Commitment to Undergraduate Studies and Student Success
The College has undertaken several initiatives at the undergraduate level to advance our
commitment to equitable access and student success. These include the establishment of the Excel Network and the Citizen Scholars Program. With these signature programs in place as the infrastructure through which to enrich the undergraduate experience, the College needs to encourage more engagement with and support for the undergraduate mission through incentives that provide more robust rewards for undergraduate teaching and experiential learning.
The values-base planning process brought to the fore a deep commitment to creating community through collaboration. Many units are engaged in collaborative efforts within the College and across the University. Still, much needs to be done to create structures and rewards for collaborative work. Through Food@MSU, the Media Arts Collaborative, and the Transformative Justice Initiative, we plan to put our shared commitment to collaboration into practice.