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For Our Community

A message from McDaniel's tenth president, Dr. Julia Jasken

Dear McDaniel Community,

I have had the pleasure of being a member of the McDaniel community for 17 years, serving nearly a decade as a proud faculty member in the English department and subsequently holding several administrative roles, most recently my current role as Executive Vice President and Provost. During that time, I have developed a deep love of and appreciation for this community comprised of dedicated students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees—each of whom meaningfully contribute to the fulfillment of McDaniel’s student-centered mission. I can think of no greater honor than to be selected as McDaniel’s tenth president and would like to thank the campus community for their engagement throughout the process, the search committee for their careful evaluation, and the Board of Trustees for their final determination.

I have appreciated working with so many of you over the years—whether you are a student leader strengthening SGA bylaws to most effectively represent the perspectives of your peers, a professor designing curriculum in our new data analytics graduate program, a member of the grounds crew working with the Environmental Studies department to literally re-shape the landscape of the McDaniel Environmental Center, alumni sharing important feedback on the College’s new academic programs, or a trustee serving on the college’s diversity, equity and inclusion taskforce focused on ensuring equitable and antiracist values are at the heart of our institutional practices. Each one of you plays a critical role in the continued positive trajectory of our institution.

As a community, we have the early opportunity to build a senior leadership team dedicated to supporting our ongoing evolution. I feel confident we can attract a talented and diverse group who will understand the importance of our values, who will encourage divergent viewpoints and who will be committed to clear communication and shared governance. Over the next several months, many campus constituents, including students, staff, faculty, and alumni will be involved in the search processes resulting in their selection. Given the time-sensitive nature of the search for a new provost in particular, and the critical importance of faculty input in the selection process, identifying a search firm to launch a national search for this position will begin immediately.

This coming fall, we will also embark on the exciting work of developing the College’s next strategic plan. One of the most powerful elements of the strategic planning process is the extent to which it provides the entire campus community with an opportunity to take a step back and see the institution with fresh eyes—an opportunity to reflect on our history, to critically assess our present, to be proud of our accomplishments, and to envision together an even brighter future. The strategic plan must straightforwardly address the current fiscal challenges facing virtually all liberal arts colleges across the nation—challenges resulting from a confluence of forces including changing demographics, increasing discount rates, rising institutional costs, new market and environmental pressures, and questions about the value (vs. the cost) of liberal arts degrees. Principles of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) must also be central to those efforts. In my current role as the chair of the DEI administrative team, I have witnessed the positive progress that can be made when our community unites to create a more equitable and just campus community, and I look forward to ensuring those ongoing efforts remain a critical institutional priority.

Having pulled together as a community to successfully conclude an exceptionally challenging semester, there is no doubt that McDaniel’s future is bright. We are well poised to build on our current successes to create a model for how a liberal arts college can not only survive, but thrive, in the rapidly changing landscape of higher education.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic will make it difficult for us to meet in person in the coming months, I will look forward to meeting with many of you virtually in my current role to continue the conversations that have emerged through the presidential search process focus groups. I look forward to those discussions and collaborations.

Wishing you a warm and wonderful holiday break full of the best the season has to offer.