December 8, 2015 Board of Higher Education Meeting
Those of us who have spent the bulk of our careers at universities and colleges like to imagine that we operate in a bubble, immune from the messy reality that often surrounds us. If only the outside world would allow us the time and serenity to focus on the things that higher education does best: teaching and learning... But this idyllic world does not exist now, if it ever did.
The challenges facing the broader society have always been our challenges as well. As societal violence has escalated in this country, so has it manifested itself on college campuses. Active shooters, sexual violence, and providing an inclusive educational environment for all students have, by necessity, risen to the top of the higher education agenda.
In this respect, the DHE is working to convene a Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Task Force in January. The group will include representatives from public and private higher education institutions, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Executive Offices of Public Safety and Health & Human Services. The anticipated outcome is a report to update earlier work on active shooters and sexual violence and to host a statewide conference to highlight best practices.
The Department has posted a Request for Proposals (RFP) for consultant services to assist the task force in its three major priority focus areas:
Our expectation is that the task force will conclude its work in June. It is an ambitious project to tackle in six short months. Balancing safety with the traditional openness of the academy will require sound knowledge and judgment, but any institution that ignores these challenges does so at its own peril.