Richard Feldman, the former dean slated to become UR’s president next month, believes there should be a new, University-wide set of values to guide policies.
“There might be behavior that, even if it’s legal, doesn’t meet our community standards, and then we’ll figure out how to deal with such behavior,” he told the Campus Times, citing a proposal from the school’s Presidential Diversity Council.
That was one of several plans Feldman discussed last week as he prepares to take over for University President Joel Seligman, who resigned earlier this month after vocal criticism of his administration’s handling of sexual misconduct claims against Professor T. Florian Jaeger.
Here are some other key points Feldman made:
- On being heard: “I can promise everyone that their ideas will be heard, that they will be considered […] but obviously it can’t be the case that everything works out the way everyone wants it to because there’s going to be conflicting ideas.”
- On town hall–style forums: “My general sense is that town hall meetings aren’t the best mechanisms for discussion” because they lend themselves to people making speeches.
- On small-group meetings: “I can hear what people have to say, and I believe people who know me will say that I listen […] Our goal is to make us better so tell me where we’re less than we ought to be.”
- On action versus process: “They want to see not just words, they want to see action […] At the same, I want to consult widely. I will not make unilateral decisions.”
- On community reform:
- “What I would like to see the community be like is […] we be a community of people when somebody does something that’s not right, that doesn’t fit those values,” someone speaks up.
- “It’s not all rules and policies — it’s about the culture and how people think they can and should treat each other.”
- On student-administration trust:
- “How do you rebuild trust? It takes ongoing work. I can’t send out a message that says, ‘Trust us,’ and think it’s going to make a difference.”
- “I think you rebuild trust by communication and by what you do, and I think if people see that you’re doing things, it will come along, […] and I will try.”
Feldman said an official website should be live soon with information about the recommendations from the recent special investigation report on UR’s handling of the Jaeger case. He hopes to begin leading the response to the recommendations this semester. So far, he has been meeting with student leaders, among others.
“My main goal in taking on this responsibility to is to be forward-looking,” Feldman said. “What should we do now? What should our policies be? What should our practices be? What should our standard for tenure be?”
A search for a new, long-term president will begin soon, Feldman said. He will not be staying beyond his interim term. Seligman, he said, has been gracious and supportive throughout this transition period.