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President Kelly Speaks to SGA About Diversity & Strategic Planning

Suffolk University’s Interim President Marisa Kelly spoke to the school’s Student Government Association (SGA) Thursday at their weekly meeting. She highlighted what the university is currently doing about diversity issues and where the school’s future is in regards to its current strategic plans.

Kelly became interim president in July, following the highly publicized dispute between former President Margaret McKenna and Suffolk’s Board of Trustees. This dispute ended in McKenna’s removal from office, despite the fact students took to picketing last winter, fighting to keep McKenna president.

When in office, McKenna started a diversity task force made up of students and faculty to assess what initiatives needed to be implemented at Suffolk to make it a better learning environment. Kelly continued the task force, which was initially only supposed to last for a year, “to ensure that we are the inclusive campus that I know we collectively want to be.” The task force is now expected to cease in April, but Kelly insisted that the end date is actually a “starting point” for putting initiatives into action.

One such implementation is a survey that will go out next week to all students and faculty to get perspectives on what the school is and isn’t doing well when it comes to diversity.

Kelly also mentioned diversity and inclusion training, consisting of a three-part program for faculty that will raise awareness about microaggressions and implicit bias.

The second topic Kelly focused on was the university’s progress on its five-year plan that started in 2012. The strategic plan officially ends at the end of this academic year in May of 2017. Kelly noted the merging of the Registrar and Bursar’s Offices as an accomplished part of the plan, as well as the new Global Gateway Program. Designed for first-year students, the program was first piloted last year to focus on exposing students to beneficial international experiences. It includes a spring break trip to Suffolk’s Madrid Campus, which Kelly will be attending this year.

A lack of permanent leadership has made it difficult to draft another long-term plan, so Kelly has extended the current one for the next two years. She believes this “will give us the ability to make sure we’re continuing to move forward [and] not lose any momentum.” The current five year plan can be accessed on the university’s website.

Kelly insisted that despite the administrative changes, “we can’t afford to hit the pause button” on the school’s current planning efforts.

Kelly took questions from the students present, addressing concerns about the stability of the university’s leadership and how that affects the way the school functions. Kelly noted that despite the changing presidents, many other officials in the school’s administration have been at Suffolk for years.

Kelly also made multiple appeals to SGA members to encourage their friends to contact her about any concerns. The interim president added that there are “lots of [administrative office] doors open to them, not just mine.” She also advertised her presidential blog, Momentum, that’s on Suffolk’s website.

As for who the next Suffolk president will be, Kelly said she’s not a part of the Presidential Search Committee and so can’t speak to it. Members of the committee are currently reaching out to the Suffolk community to see what is wanted in a permanent president.

Other highlights from today’s SGA general meeting involved a budget raise appeal from the IS (Information Systems) Club’s co-president to finance travel for an Adobe workshop conference. The motion passed, as it’s one of the fastest growing clubs at Suffolk. Students in attendance in the conference, which will take place in San Diego, plan to teach a workshop on what they learned at the conference about Photoshop and coding to the Suffolk student body.

It was announced that Suffolk has also implemented two new clubs – badminton and chess. To join or get more information, visit Student Leadership and Involvement (SLI) office on the 3rd floor of Sawyer.

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