Dear Denison Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I hope that you all have had an enjoyable summer. Last month I wrote to you all introducing myself to the community, and have been delighted to receive so many warm words of welcome. In follow-up to that note, I am excited to share with you the Division of Student Life guiding principles and priorities for the year ahead. Our hope is that we can rely on your partnership in providing students with a vibrant and healthy student experience. In my role as Vice President, I will work to build an equity-minded, student-centered, and learning focused student affairs division at Denison.

As I have said before, I see my role as a steward of the student experience, while also partnering across the University to create the conditions where all students can thrive while on campus and beyond. This year, we will need to be intentionally innovative in our approaches to supporting our students and their experience. We will need to seek multiple formats and be attuned to the different needs and environments in which students are engaging, while working in real time to address disparities. Students will arrive on campus expecting us to listen, affirm, and even challenge them in ways that only the transformative power of a rigorous liberal arts education can. Understanding our work through this lens supports our guiding principles and goals that will guide the work of the Division for the next twelve months.

Guiding Principles for the year ahead

In collaboration with students and colleagues, the Division of Student Life will strive to cultivate an inclusive campus experience that facilitates student engagement, social inclusion, intellectual curiosity, and personal exploration.

Staff will be guided by the following principles and will model these principles in our work with students:

Inclusive Excellence: We believe in the transformative learning that happens when we acknowledge and celebrate diversity and inclusion, and develop a culture of innovation that creates the conditions for all people to thrive. We continuously encourage each other to operate at the edges of our learning to foster a community dedicated to personal and professional development. We hold the contributions of all members of our community in the highest regard, recognizing that the varied expertise that comes from each person has the potential to positively impact the Denison community.

Community: We remain accountable to and reliant upon each other, understanding that in doing so we can work most effectively for Denison students.

Partnership: We find power in collaboration and the joining of ideas and resources that will best support our students.

2020-2021 Student Life Goals

  • Strive toward a sustainable antiracist organizational framework. Assess our organization through an inclusive excellence framework, review and assess our student-facing programs, support services and advance student and staff learning about racism and other issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Leverage our residential communities to empower students to be active participants in a diverse living and learning environment, and to understand the world from the evolving identities of others
  • Partner with the Provost’s Office and faculty to integrate the co-curricular and curricular lives of our students. Using this partnership as a means to articulate an integrated student experience that supports the intellectual, personal, and social development of our students
  • Create learning opportunities for students to develop personal and professional skills and competencies that will benefit their post-graduate success
  • Deepen our focus on creating a culture of holistic well-being for our students and colleagues that addresses mental health, physical health, personal development and social connections
  • Identify ways to increase student voice in matters related to their experience, e.g. through departmental advisory boards, committee representation
  • Prepare for and respond proactively to emerging campus issues
    • COVID-19 and its impact on the student experience
    • Title IX regulations
    • Social life on campus
    • Activism
    • Political discourse

I look forward to the work our community of students, faculty, and staff will do together this year.

Alex Miller

Vice President for Student Life

August 7, 2020