Wartburg President Addresses Concerns

The president of Wartbug College sent the following email to alumni and friends of the college.

Dear Alumni and Friends,

During the past several weeks, our nation has acknowledged the systemic racism that persists, including in higher education. As I’ve said, Wartburg, too, has not met the high standard we set for ourselves when, long ago, we “committed to creating and maintaining a mutually respectful environment that recognizes and celebrates diversity among all students, faculty and staff” (Diversity Statement).

After much honest reflection, and dozens of conversations with our Black students and alumni, we will take what we have learned and move forward to prioritize equity and inclusion. Taking as our creed, this is possible, we will continue listening to those of you who have lessons to teach us, while also shifting to meaningful actions. We will:

Establish a task force to guide our many efforts to review and re-work the college’s Diversity & Inclusion Plan; to scrutinize our practices, policies, and procedures; and to evaluate and prioritize the many good recommendations that are coming forth;
Fix the burdensome process by which victims of harassment and abuse must file a formal complaint against a faculty or staff member;
Institute, with the help of experts, ongoing training to develop intercultural competence and eliminate implicit bias;
Host a series of small group engagement sessions so current and former students have a safe place to express concerns with college leadership.

As promised, we have concluded an investigation; the Board of Regents has acted promptly on its results; and the college has rescinded the emeritus status of retired faculty member William Earl.

Because achieving equity and inclusion is so critical to the success of our students, we’ll continue communicating regularly; and, in very short order we’ll be detailing the members and charge of the task force. Then, as soon as possible, we’ll begin sharing the results of our progress with you.

Remember, too, that we’ll continue to post updates on our website so that you can track our progress in real time. On that site, you will also find details of measures already taken.

My colleagues and I are grateful for the courage that our alumni have shown in recent days. We expect and pray that our students and alumni will exercise leadership in this community by serving it even in tough times, and we’ve seen ample evidence of this community’s eagerness to step up even when doing so is tough and painful. Witnessing this outpouring of love for the college and insistence that it measure up to its high calling, I’m filled with confidence, knowing that together we can achieve the goal of diversity, inclusion, and equity that our students deserve.


Darrel Colson