Special Campus Memo: Moving Ahead
- Possible Selective Expansion of the UGSDW - At the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) hearing last fall, I shared the College's own analysis of student work; which concluded that although a majority of the positions that UGSDW sought to add to the existing union had a significant educational component, others did not. Those positions were more comparable in that regard to positions in dining services.
Building on that analysis and working collaboratively, I believe the UGSDW and Grinnell can carefully explore ways to expand the union by including a limited number of student jobs that, like positions in dining services, do not have a significant educational component. I appreciate the UGSDW's recent comments regarding its desire to reach a mutually acceptable agreement that widens its membership while not undermining Grinnell's educational mission. The College has expressed a similar sentiment, and we look forward to having a constructive and respectful dialogue about specific positions that could be added in a way that is consistent with this understanding. We have already reached out to the union about this and hope to initiate discussions soon.
- Financial Support for Student Success - Contrary to allegations made during the unionization debate, the College has continuously increased its financial assistance budget to ensure that students with need-based financial aid packages are not reliant on wages to cover any increases in tuition or fees. At Grinnell, we are proud to be a need-blind institution with regard to admission, and we remain deeply committed to ensuring that the College is accessible to students from every walk of life. We provide one of the most extensive and generous financial assistance programs in the country and continue to meet 100 percent of the demonstrated financial need of every student through a comprehensive system of grants and loans as well as work on campus.
It is important that we periodically assess various aspects of student financial support. Recently the union has suggested that Grinnell's financial aid is insufficient to meet students' basic needs. With this mind, an assessment is warranted to determine whether the College's current support is adequate to ensure Grinnell is accessible to all admitted students, and can sustain our students' success once enrolled. Equally important, we must conduct such an assessment in the context of balancing revenues and expenses in the short-term while preserving institutional financial viability and sustainability for the long-run.
For these reasons, Board Chair Patricia Finkelman '80 is appointing a Board Task Force on Student Financial Support and Success to comprehensively address these issues. Led by Board member and alumna Angela Onwuachi-Willig '94, a noted scholar and current Dean of Boston University School of Law, the task force will consider Grinnell's financial support from both student and institutional perspectives. The task force's work will be supported by an advisory committee that will include students, faculty, staff and alumni. It is expected that a report on its work will be presented to the Board of Trustees at the October 2019 meeting.
A special task force website will be created to serve as a central resource for sharing information about its process and findings. More details about the task force and advisory committee will be shared in the days to come.
- Improving the Academic Component of Student Experiential Learning - We will continue to build upon earlier strategic planning efforts that, over the past five years, have brought institutional-focus to improving student experiential learning opportunities on campus, which included the creation of a Training and Student Employment Coordinator position in the Human Resources office.
The next phase of this work will focus on strengthening the educational components of work on campus. Mark Peltz, the Daniel and Patricia Jipp Finkelman Dean of Careers, Life, and Service, will spearhead this initiative to ensure that students' personal growth and professional development are an even more central focus of these opportunities. In support of this effort, the College will be creating a new position to focus exclusively on supporting campus experiential learning opportunities outside of the classroom and making sure these positions prepare students with critical career-readiness skills. Among other things, we will explore ways of improving training opportunities for both students and supervisors, incorporating mentoring and reflection activities, enhancing evaluation processes, and ways to document out-of-classroom educational experiences.