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Home / 2013 Fall / From The President
President Charles G. LiefPhoto: Jack Greene

From The President

The Foundational Value of Sustainability

Boulder and much of the Front Range experienced a very uneasy transition into autumn this year, faced with devastating floods. A number of faculty, staff, students, and board members were displaced and incurred damage. We’ve established the Naropa Disaster Relief Fund to provide much-needed support. In the first week, more than $10,000 was donated, and checks for $12,900 were distributed. Academic Affairs and the Graduate School of Psychology facilitated a Flood Response Community meeting, creating a space for witnessing and recognition of trauma.

In the midst of recovering from this natural disaster, there is much to be thankful for. Our three campuses incurred minimal damage, and are alive with the energy of new and returning students and faculty. Meeting enrollment goals is no small feat in the current climate, and I am grateful for the hard work of the Admissions team.

The community is delighted to be joined by Dr. Janet Cramer, our new provost and vice president for academic affairs. We are fortunate to have such an energetic partner and faculty leader with a strong commitment to our mission and accomplished teaching and administrative career path. I am also pleased to have welcomed new faculty across the curriculum at our recent convocation.

Shortly after stepping into the Naropa presidency, I framed the priorities I saw as fitting within the foundational values of contemplative education, diversity, and sustainability. We have made real progress, while understanding there is more to do.

Professor Judith Simmer-Brown, who has so positively affected thousands of students, faculty, and staff over more than thirty-five years, has been appointed Distinguished Professor of Contemplative Education and Religious Studies. In addition to teaching, Judith will be a faculty advocate, ensuring contemplative education underpins the entire curriculum. She’ll also continue to represent Naropa at conferences, collaborating with the growing number of universities and institutions focused on contemplative work.

The Diversity and Inclusivity Committee has produced a number of campus-wide events, conducted surveys, and assisted in planning for a restored Office of Diversity and Inclusivity. The provost and I have just presented a plan to the board to move forward with the creation of the office and the search for a leader. This position will support diversity work in the classroom and help create a student and staff community reflecting racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, and economic diversity.

Last September, thanks to a community-wide Sustainability Council, the board of trustees adopted a Sustainability Statement. We’ve also adopted a Climate Action Plan that will serve as a roadmap for decision-making across the university. Staff, faculty, and students enjoyed access to organic produce all summer, with Oxford Gardens delivering farm shares to our campuses. Naropa provided financial support, and while I can’t eat another beet, it is wonderful to run into friends collecting their weekly produce.

Personal sustainability includes caring for ourselves and each other, and I hope you will be as inspired as I am in reading about our alumni and faculty’s work. The Naropa Counseling Center offers confidential and effective services to students, and thanks to the Graduate School of Psychology, we are examining the feasibility of a community counseling center serving Naropa students and low-income residents of Boulder.

Much has been, and will be, said about our 40th anniversary. Naropa will offer a remarkable number of ways for those new to our work or those whose connections are somewhat distant, to engage with this vibrant university. Each school will offer performances, workshops, lectures, experiential learning, and exhibitions. You are all warmly welcome to visit us for the first time or to let us welcome you home to Naropa.

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Charles G. Lief