An Update on Staff Initiatives at Columbia

March 06, 2023

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:
I write to provide an update on our continued antiracism efforts, led by Dennis Mitchell, Executive Vice President for University Life and Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement. One essential part of this work has been looking at the experience of our staff, who are, unquestionably, integral to the success of this institution.  
As part of our early efforts, a Staff Experience Working Group helped gather information on the working environment at Columbia and on what are the highest standards we should aim for. Their findings, derived from information from myriad stakeholders and colleagues across the University, make clear that we must focus more meaningfully on the staff experience. They offered a number of very thoughtful recommendations on how to go about this. I have asked my Chief of Staff Susan Glancy to begin a centrally focused and resourced effort in support of strengthening the staff experience, and the sense of belonging, at Columbia. 
Over the coming weeks, we will roll out several aspects of this work. Just as a start, we have amended the University’s mission statement to include a reference to staff—a symbolic but important change that recognizes the value our employees bring to the institution. Then, in the near future, we will conduct a survey, developed in consultation with our faculty experts, to identify immediate, short-term, and long-term initiatives in support of staff members. Responses to these surveys will be essential in shaping our work, and I hope all staff will participate. Finally, we will begin a process of revitalizing the ways we celebrate years of service to the University, along with a new “Staff Spotlight,” highlighting members of our community.
Of course, this is just the beginning of what will be a deepening and sustained effort to celebrate our staff. I am very grateful to Dennis, Susan, the members of the Staff Experience Working Group, and to all in our community who strive every day to make Columbia a truly excellent place to learn, teach, research, and work.

Lee C. Bollinger