Listening Process Details and Timeline

-January 20, 2014

Background

Due to increasing concerns from multiple constituencies (including faculty, staff, students, parents and donors) about EMU’s hiring practices regarding individuals in covenanted same-sex relationships, the Board of Trustees authorized a six-month listening process from January to June 2014. During this period the President’s Cabinet is leading a process that will include various methods of listening and engaging. After three months of listening (February, March, April), the president, in consultation with the President’s Cabinet, will prepare a report and recommendations for the Board of Trustees on what it learned and how the board might respond. The board will then meet in June to determine how it wishes to proceed. Since the Board of Trustees has ultimate responsibility for personnel policies, the board may accept, reject, modify, or defer action on the recommendations they receive. The President’s Cabinet is committed to sharing its summary report and the board’s decision with core EMU constituents following the board’s action in June.

Process Principles

As we engage in the listening process between January and June 2014, we are committed to our communal principles:

  • To bathe the process in prayer
  • To demonstrate respect for all viewpoints and civility towards all persons
  • To uphold the primacy of relationships
  • To practice transparency and accountability

Constituencies

The President’s Cabinet is committed to hearing from and engaging with all of the constituencies that comprise and support Eastern Mennonite University. These include the following groups:

  • Current students
  • Faculty and staff
  • Parents of prospective, current or former students
  • Alumni/ae
  • Donors
  • Church leaders
  • Local community members in Harrisonburg, Va., and Lancaster, Pa.
  • Others who support the mission of EMU

Communication Mechanisms

There are three primary ways in which the President’s Cabinet will seek to communicate with these constituencies: through an on-line survey, through individual interviews, and through group conversations. Members of core constituent groups (including all current students, faculty and staff) will be sent a link to a confidential and anonymous on-line survey. During March and April there will also be multiple opportunities on campus for students, faculty and staff to communicate their perspectives with the cabinet and with each other. These will be planned by members of the President’s Cabinet in consultation with individuals from the campus community experienced in planning dialogue processes.

Process Timeline

We propose the following timeline to complete the listening process according to the board mandate:

  • January 20 — Inform the EMU community of the process plan
  • February 1 — Survey emailed to on-campus and external core constituents. A printed postcard with a survey access code will be mailed to those for whom EMU does not have current email addresses. The postcards should arrive in constituent mailboxes by March 1 and will include an access code to take the survey online. This survey will close March 15.
  • March 17 — A link will be posted on the EMU website to a survey open to the general public. This survey will close April 30.
  • March and April — Structured dialogue opportunities for student/faculty/staff engagement on campus, both in “focus group” settings (by department or division) and across groupings.
  • May — Analysis of learnings from the listening process and development of recommendations by the President’s Cabinet
  • June 20/21 — Report and recommendations considered by EMU’s Board of Trustees