Town halls to tackle campus climate, culture

New College of Florida students are seen during orientation weekend.Students, faculty and staff will have two chances to discuss the current campus climate and culture during two town hall-style meetings this fall.

Dr. Bill Woodson, chief diversity officer and dean of outreach at New College, announced his intention to hold the meetings in an article submitted to the student newspaper, The Catalyst. The article was also republished Sept. 23 in New College News.

The meetings are set for Oct 8, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Hamilton Center cafeteria area, and Nov. 20, from 3:30-4:40 p.m. in Chae Auditorium in the Heiser Natural Sciences Complex. The town halls will be hosted by Woodson and New College President Don O’Shea.

In his article, Woodson said after reviewing 2016 and 2017 climate surveys, research and work done by the deliberations of the Committee on Campus Climate and Culture, “a clear path forward and a focus for the coming year and beyond has emerged.” The end result, he announced, was the approval of a campuswide climate initiative.

“My aspiration for the student experience of New College is that this is a place where we are all exposed to new and different ideas,” Woodson wrote. “That our students graduate, not only with first-hand knowledge of contrary points of view, but with an enhanced ability to engage and challenge those points of view, while remaining in relationship, even in fellowship, with people whose opinions conflict.”

The upcoming town halls, Woodson said, will be “pretty unstructured.” He hopes students will bring the “desire to do the work the college has to do … to develop a skillfulness and desire to hear a variety of opinions.

“People have opinions. Bringing opinions to the surface is a good place to start.”

Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 800 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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