Chancellor's Corner: Philosophy department culture change starts with naming of new chair

Published: Jan. 31, 2014

Earlier today, the campus announced that Professor Andy Cowell will head our philosophy department at CU-Boulder. Professor Cowell is a professor of French literature and a former chair of two departments, French and Italian and linguistics. This change was made to improve the climate in philosophy for our faculty, staff and students and, specifically, to improve the climate for women.

We have made these changes based upon the recommendations of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Women Site Visit Program in a recent report that we are making public today, as well as on evidence gathered from faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students in the department. That evidence points directly to the need to create a stronger, more inclusive environment in the department for women as scholars and students, that prevents acts of sexual harassment and discrimination, and that allows faculty to work together in a collegial environment of mutual respect.

Under Professor Cowell’s direction, the department will take key steps to improve the overall climate in philosophy. These steps include mandatory training on issues of sexual harassment; bystander intervention training to aid individuals in confronting acts of discrimination when they are observed; and focused, facilitated workshops to improve faculty collegiality and the scholarly climate in philosophy. In addition, we will assist graduate students in the processes involved in allocating resources.

I want to make it clear that we cannot allow patterns of misconduct and breaches of integrity to go unchecked. I expect this campus to operate at the highest levels of personal and professional integrity in everything we do. As we move ahead, we must stay on the course of creating an inclusive campus that fosters student success, improves retention and progress toward graduation, and that elevates the university’s reputation in all ways, at all times, with all our key stakeholders.

Philip P. DiStefano, chancellor
University of Colorado Boulder