Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
I would like to thank you, the Redeemer community, for your care for one another during these challenging times. We are committed and working together through often frustrating restrictions to continue with in-person and remote synchronous learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am grateful to everyone for their patience and optimism.
While we are working on many exciting things this year, mid-way into the fall term, it’s time that I share an update with you as promised, about progress on the multi-faceted initiative toward living out Redeemer’s Reformed Christian mission in increasingly positive ways.
As I highlighted in my first letter, we want to serve as an example of loving engagement across disagreement or differences and continue to foster a culture of respect on campus. There is much more to do. The following steps we have taken reflect that we are listening and learning so that we can make meaningful and lasting changes:
- The leadership team attended the University of Toronto National Dialogues on Anti-Racism and Inclusivity in Higher Ed and continues to discuss the insights gained to determine practical applications within the Redeemer context.
- Recruitment policies and processes for students and employees have been updated to be more explicit about Redeemer’s Reformed Christian identity, perspectives, and traditions, and the beliefs and policies that flow from them.
- I have reviewed the Personal Respect Policy and am working with faculty and staff to strengthen the policy and to find ways to better, and more regularly, educate the campus about the policy and procedures. Plans are in development to incorporate regular discussions and awareness about the policy in meetings, training and orientation for students, faculty and staff.
- In January, Dr. Jess Joustra will be hosting Rev. Dr. Esau McCaulley, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, and Dr. Vincent Bacote, Associate Professor of Theology, Director of Center for Applied Christian Ethics at Wheaton College for a panel discussion titled Reading While Black and Reformed. Various courses will integrate the panel into their curriculum and employee book discussion groups will follow in the weeks after the event to help us consider more specific applications for Redeemer.
- An anonymous survey about student experience on campus is in development with a 3rd party research group. The survey results will help us determine steps we might take to strengthen the caring and respectful community that Redeemer strives to be. We are aiming to launch the survey by the end of 2020.
- The four employee workplace surveys that took place over the past decade will be reviewed to look for themes related to care and respect as an additional way to listen and gather feedback.
- An extensive and complete audit and review of Redeemer’s policies, practices and procedures has begun.
I would like to express my gratitude to those at Redeemer working specifically on these important matters and encourage all of us to engage these issues when we have the opportunity to do so. These efforts will extend through this academic year and beyond, enriching Redeemer’s culture of care and respect.
It’s my prayer that God will bless us as we continue to take action and share updates with you in the months ahead. As a university, we look forward to this ongoing journey, rooted in the ultimate hope of Jesus Christ and his redeeming work in all of creation which animates Redeemer’s mission to prepare students to be agents of that hope wherever he calls them.
Robert J. Graham, PhD