A Note to the NU Community from VP of Student Affairs, Patricia Telles-Irvin


Dear Northwestern Community,

Through the growth and expansion of our work and a number of initiatives, including the work of the department of Campus Inclusion and Community, as well existing and new assessments we learned that satisfaction among African American/Black undergraduate students needed to be addressed. As a next step to improving student satisfaction, in Spring 2015 I made it a priority to explore and address the satisfaction of today’s African American/Black undergraduate students at Northwestern University. Based on assessment information and my own conversations with our students, faculty, and staff, I knew that we needed to gain a better understanding about the experiences of our Black undergraduate students. Therefore a task force was created composed of faculty, students and staff to examine the issue.

The charge was two-fold for the task force:

    Conduct a thorough review of the existing Black Student satisfaction data to reach an understanding of its contributing factors; and

    Generate recommended strategies and systems Northwestern can employ to improve the satisfaction of our African-American/Black undergraduate student community.

Over the course of a year, the task force worked thoughtfully and diligently to identify key themes and recommendations pertaining to the Black Student Experience at Northwestern. Fourteen different themes emerged from their robust study of the literature, existing data, and the community voices through focus groups and surveys. This rich data led the task force to deliver 14 recommendations on which the university should focus its efforts in the coming months. You can access the full report – complete with appendices here (PDF). I am deeply appreciative of the work done to provide us such an important roadmap for future work. I am grateful to the student voices before and during the process; I thank Task Force Chair Dr. Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson, Executive Director of Campus Inclusion and Community; and I recognize the time and dedication given by each of the individual task force members on this important work. You can find the report at http://www.northwestern.edu/inclusion/reports-reviews/black-student-experience-report/index.html .

In addition to the Black Student Experience report, we have the results of a program review, the Black House Facility Review Committee report, and other information Northwestern community members have generously shared through Community Dialogues and discussions. We will be developing a comprehensive, overarching list of recommendations based on all of these activities, and a corresponding action plan to address issues and priorities. These recommendations and plans will be shared with the full Northwestern community once they are finalized.

Thank you to those who participated in the work of the Black Student Experience Task Force, and to those who provided feedback and insight along the way. We look forward to making strong progress on these and other recommendations together.

Warm regards,

Patricia Telles-Irvin

Vice President for Student Affairs


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