Dear Members of the Barnard Community,
I write to you today with an update on significant organizational changes that reflect my promise on behalf of the College to cultivate a campus that is safe and welcoming to all. These changes will fundamentally alter how we support physical safety and well-being on campus and allow Barnard to take a leadership role in reimagining how best to create an equitable, safe, and welcoming community.
Over the past year and half, faculty, staff, students and leadership across the College have focused on how we can best put policies and practices into place that cultivate a campus that is welcoming and safe. Appropriately, these discussions have taken on renewed energy as our nation grapples with how to think about safety more broadly. Many of us, including me, have been prompted to re-examine our assumptions and ideas about how best to structure public safety on our campus. Resulting from this work, Barnard is making a series of organizational changes to promote community safety and well-being.
As you may remember, in the Summer of 2020, I announced the launch of a search for a new Executive Director of Public Safety. In preparation for this search, the Community Safety Group and other stakeholders engaged in discussions about what safety at Barnard is and could be.
Through this process, it has become clear that trying to develop a new approach to public safety within an old structure would neither serve Barnard well nor set up a new leader for success. So, we are creating a new Community Accountability, Response, and Emergency Services (CARES) structure on campus to uphold community safety and well-being and canceling the search for the public safety Executive Director position. This new structure will consist of three interrelated areas: (1) A First-Response Team, (2) Community Safety, and (3) Title IX and Nondiscrimination.
The new CARES First-Response Team will be first-responders to an array of student and community needs, including physical and mental health support and crises, certain student conduct matters, access assistance, information desk staffing, and major emergencies on campus. This team will take a new approach to inclusive first response, with new expertise and training.
The addition of the CARES first-response team allows us to refocus the attention and training of Barnard College Public Safety staff members on their particular expertise in security matters, thereby enhancing safety on our campus. This refocused area of Community Safety will continue to embrace the significant changes to public safety practices, training (including around de-escalation, anti-racism, gender identity and more) and communication that have taken place over the past year. This area will also work closely with the CARES first-response team to ensure the appropriate response to situations that arise and, when appropriate, handoff between areas.
Finally, moving Nondiscrimination and Title IX from the Dean of the College area into this new organizational structure rounds out our comprehensive approach to keeping our community safe, while enhancing equity and expertise.
While the above represents major organizational change, it is only the first step in evolving how we think about campus safety. In conferring with the Community Safety Group, it has become clear that, to truly move forward, we need someone who knows Barnard to shape this new Community Accountability, Response, and Emergency Services (CARES) organization. To this end, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Amy Zavadil has agreed to take on a new role as the Associate Vice President for CARES. Reporting to both Jomysha Delgado Stephen, Executive Vice President of the College, and Roger Mosier, Vice President for Operations, Dr. Zavadil will work closely with the Community Safety Group to provide a broad, holistic strategic vision for campus safety, refine positions and structure within CARES and build relationships across our community.
Dr. Zavadil, who is currently Barnard’s Interim Executive Director of Public Safety, served as a police officer early in her career. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. She served as the College’s Associate Dean for Equity and our inaugural Title IX Coordinator from 2011 to 2017. She then served as University of Dayton’s Equity Compliance Officer before returning to Barnard. This remarkable breadth of skills and experience, together with the relationships she has already built here, position her well to lead our evolving vision of community accountability, response and safety.
I am also pleased to announce the appointment of our new Director for Nondiscrimination and Title IX, Dr. Elizabeth Scott-Francis. Dr. Scott-Francis comes to us from Juilliard, where she was Assistant Director, Office of Residence Life, and served as a member of the Title IX team. She previously held related roles at Vanderbilt University and Christopher Newport University.
I want to thank all of you who have helped inform our approach to this work, which is so important to Barnard’s value and mission. We are taking a first step in how to reimagine community safety, something that is everyone’s responsibility. There will no doubt be changes to this structure as we move forward, but I believe we have the potential to serve as a model for other institutions across the country working to fulfill their commitment to an equitable, safe, and welcoming community. More information about our new approach can be found here.
Responsive and innovative thinking is a hallmark of a Barnard education and our work in the realm of community safety and well-being should be no different. I look forward to sharing further developments in months to come.
Sian Leah Beilock, President