Letter from President DeGioia and Provost O’Donnell to the University Community
February 7, 2008
Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community,
We write today to provide you with an update on our LGBTQ Initiative. As you know, in mid-October we launched an effort to explore how best to enhance resources available to LGBTQ students and promote inclusiveness and respect within our community. Since that time, three Working Groups — Resources, Education, and Reporting — have worked collaboratively to develop a set of practical recommendations. Last week the Working Groups submitted their final reports to us, and this past Tuesday we met with the three groups.
Thirty-eight University community members served on these working groups, including students, faculty, department chairs, staff, senior administrators, alumni, and members of the Jesuit community. The members seriously engaged the issues at hand and showed great commitment to Georgetown. They consulted a wide variety of University leaders and national experts on LGBTQ resources in higher education, and they carefully considered the resources Georgetown brings to this work as a Catholic and Jesuit university. We are impressed with the wisdom of their recommendations, which can be found at http://ideaa.georgetown.edu/lgbtq/. We would like to take this opportunity to tell you about next steps in four areas.
First, as recommended by the Working Group on Resources, for the 2008-09 academic year the University will establish an LGBTQ Resource Center with two fulltime staff, funding for programming, and an accessible campus location. In the next two weeks we will begin a national search process to identify qualified candidates for the role of Director. The Search Committee, which will have strong representation from the LGBTQ community, will be composed of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Our goal is to fill this new role before the Fall 2008 semester.
Second, the Education Working Group offered a wide range of recommendations that, when implemented, will make a difference in our community. Some recommendations call for specific efforts to address LGBTQ needs and perspectives in areas such as admissions, athletics, study-abroad, and counseling. Others relate to how we can strengthen respect, inclusion, and understanding on matters of sexual and gender identity across the University community. Because there are many recommendations covering a wide range of departments and areas, we have decided that the most effective way to move forward is to ask two senior leaders — Associate Provost Marjory S. Blumenthal and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord — to develop an implementation plan. We have asked them to coordinate closely with LGBTQ Resource Coordinator Bill McCoy in developing an approach to implementation that makes progress this semester and prioritizes effectively among many valuable recommendations.
Third, the Working Group on Reporting has made recommendations to enhance the University’s system for reporting incidents of intolerance by developing a common framework for reporting such incidents and notifying the campus community when such incidents take place on or near our campus. I have asked Vice President for University Safety Rocco DelMonaco to oversee the implementation of these recommendations. For recommendations relating to the Bias Reporting System, Center for Multicultural Equity and Access Director Dennis Williams will oversee their implementation. With these improvements, we hope it will be even more clear that Georgetown University does not tolerate homophobia or any other form of discrimination.
While the working groups focused on the undergraduate experience, this Initiative has elicited questions and suggestions from faculty, staff, and graduate students. Today we are pleased to announce that we are creating a University-wide committee to identify and address LGBTQ issues in an ongoing and integrated way. Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Rosemary Kilkenny has accepted our invitation to chair that committee, which will be formed this semester. We expect this committee to be a resource as we implement the recommendations of the Working Groups and more generally, as we respond to the needs and interests of faculty, staff and students.
During the past few months, these three Working Groups have set a standard for creative, effective, and collegial work. We were inspired to hear how much the members of the Working Groups enjoyed getting to know each other and coming up with practical ideas to benefit our community. We would like to thank the six colleagues who co-chaired the Working Groups: Associate Professor of English Ricardo Ortiz; Professor of History Tommaso Astarita; Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, and, as mentioned above, Bill McCoy, Marjory Blumenthal, and Dennis Williams. We would like to thank Rosemary Kilkenny and Vice President for Public Affairs and Strategic Development Daniel R. Porterfield for their work as the Initiative’s co-coordinators.
Finally, we are especially grateful to the many students who have shown outstanding leadership at every step. We look forward to the next stages of the LGBTQ Initiative and to all efforts to enhance our campus community.
John J. DeGioia James J. O’Donnell