Understanding and expressing our personal perspectives and goals and then finding ways to apply them to systemic progress and change; this mission lies at the heart of the Bay Path experience. This year, as we celebrate Black History Month and acknowledge so many triumphs and contributions, it seems especially critical that we also recognize the complexity of that history, call out the injustice that persists, and challenge ourselves to ask bigger questions and seek better solutions.
We have renewed our commitment to creating a community that is not only welcoming, supportive and equitable, but also determined, persistent and passionate about social justice and the fight for equality. In addition to building task forces, hosting listening sessions with students and faculty, and continuing to bring diverse perspectives to our programming and curriculum, how are we using the unique mission of Bay Path to address racial imbalances and build a more equitable society?
How are we positioning our students to seize this important and difficult moment and channel it into lasting change both at a personal and systemic level?
While we’re examining every aspect of our university through the lens of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we wanted to seize this moment of reckoning and reflection in the most immediate way. In the fall, under the leadership of Dinah Moore G'19, the introductory course of our hallmark WELL (Women as Empowered Leaders and Learners) program, pivoted straight into the maelstrom. WELL100 typically centers on a first-year read, a book that starts conversations about passion, potential and perspective. This year, a syllabus of curated essays challenged students to dissect and analyze pressing national issues that included George Floyd, the pandemic and the elections.
Ms. Moore wanted students to reflect upon how our ideas are shaped, recognize where opinions come from, and learn to confidently articulate them in both welcoming and adversarial environments. But, she also wanted students to realize that our personal power overlaps with our political power, and that our voices and our votes have the ability to move the world toward change.
As we look deeper at our curriculum and continue to implement important changes and new perspectives, one area we’ll be focusing on is financial literacy. As a college devoted to preparing women for careers, we know money is a social justice issue. We believe there is no greater return on investment than an education, especially for women. And in this era of rising tuition and costly student loans, we have a responsibility to ensure our students are getting the absolute best return on investment possible, beyond graduation. The education we provide at Bay Path is designed to not only give women the skills and mindset they need to thrive in their careers, but ultimately position them for economic self-determinism.
When we work with students on career planning, one of our roles is to ensure that they understand the myriad of factors that influence their course for earning, saving and growing wealth. This has to include a very honest and straightforward discussion about the careers they pursue and the incomes that accompany them. And it has to provide a historical context that discusses the ways in which long held racist, sexist policies, in the form of both official practices and ingrained social norms have resulted in deep economic divides along race and gender lines.
We cannot embark upon the future without discussing the past, but at the same time, we must empower our students to see themselves as earners and to realize their potential. They cannot do that if they are not fluent in the language of finance, and we want them to be confident enough to speak it throughout their lives—in salary negotiations, mortgage discussions, household budget conversations and investment planning.
Confronting and tactically dismantling the social plague of racism at a personal, political and institutional level has never felt more important or urgent. To that end, we’re looking forward to our continuing workshop series with Dr. Tia Brown-McNair, Vice President in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Campus Centers at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). Dr. Brown-McNair’s book, From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education will help guide us as we continue to critically examine what inhibits our progress and identify bold strategies for moving forward.
The work will be hard. It will be uncomfortable. It will require persistence and passion, commitment and compassion. But, as I’ve learned over the eight months I’ve been at Bay Path, we are up for the task.
Welcome to my official blog as President of Bay Path University. I’ll be using this space to share ideas, research, and perspectives connected to Bay Path and our unique role as an innovative, transformative institution. Through this blog, I hope to encourage dialogue and inspire critical thinking about topics that impact our mission, our students, and our community.
I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you and invite you to join the discussion. My inbox is always open firstname.lastname@example.org.