Dear faculty, students, and staff,
Welcome back to campus! It is a pleasure to have you return; you enliven what becomes a very quiet place during the break. I hope all of you have come back refreshed and ready to learn. We begin this year steadfast in our commitment to provide insight into the pressing issues that face the world and to create opportunities for learning how to foster communities that include people of different backgrounds and different perspectives. As societies around the world become more polarized, we must rededicate our efforts to come together and learn as one community. Here at Lawrence, even as we have made positive progress, there remains work to be done.
To those ends, Kimberly Barrett, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Dean of the Faculty has already sent a message, and Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life, will be in contact very soon with schedules of events planned for this winter and spring. These events will provide opportunities for us to learn new skills in order to discuss the issues that face our communities and others around the globe. You can also find a schedule of events on the Diversity and Inclusion page and on a new page for Spiritual and Religious Life at Lawrence.
At the end of fall term many of you asked about our policies and procedures regarding Lawrentians who are not citizens of the United States. Our policy has been, and will continue to be, to create a welcoming and supportive community for all, without regard for citizenship status.
For many years our policy and practice have been to protect the information of all members of our community to the fullest extent the law allows, and to establish mechanisms to attract the most talented students, faculty, and staff from around the globe. We take seriously our obligation to uphold the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which sets forth strict conditions for releasing student information to any party, including government authorities. While faculty and staff information is not governed by FERPA, we also respect and protect the privacy of our employees to the extent permitted by law. We will not release any non-directory information, including citizenship or immigration status information, about any member of the Lawrence community without that person’s consent unless we are required to do so by lawful subpoena or other legal directive.
As a learning institution, two of our most central and enduring values are to support all community members and to foster an environment in which all can thrive. We value a learning environment that includes difference in all forms. We remain committed to considering any applicant for admission, regardless of their immigration or citizenship status. We will also continue to consider institutional financial aid for students who may not hold a U.S. passport. We will continue to recruit faculty and staff from around the world and to provide support and resources to non-U.S. citizens. Support and resources can be found here.
During the coming weeks, we will continue to review our policies and procedures that relate to citizenship and immigration to identify opportunities for improvement. All employees will also receive a refresher on FERPA and information security. Please do not hesitate to contact me, Kimberly Barrett, or Julia Messitte our general counsel, if you have specific questions.
I look forward to seeing each of you on campus. Again, welcome back.
President, Lawrence University