Following the visit to campus by the Dalai Lama, William & Mary’s Interfaith Club, Ifaith, wanted to do something that would advance the philosophy that compassion is a core characteristic of our campus. With the guidance of their Faculty Advisor they looked into the Charter for Compassion as a way to help forward this idea.
Concept of the Charter
The Charter concept was started by Karen Armstrong in 2008. The Charter for Compassion is a cooperative effort to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more importantly, compassionate action to the center of religious, moral and political life. Compassion is the principled determination to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, and lies at the heart of all religious and ethical systems. At that time only several colleges and universities had signed the Charter. The students then took the concept of William & Mary becoming a university of compassion by signing the Charter for Compassionate Schools to President Reveley, who endorsed the idea but asked them to confer with top administrators to gauge their acceptance of the idea. The concept was approved by everyone they spoke with and at the president’s direction they formed the Compassionate Action Board to help set the framework for signing the Charter for Compassion and sustaining it.
The Compassionate Action Board (CAB), is a group of administrators, professors and students working together to find ways to bring compassion to the forefront of all thought and activity at W&M by collaborating with others to promote thought, action and academics that are based on compassion throughout the university. The members of the CAB are Dean Thomas, Dr. Weatherly, Dr. Crace, Professor Bagdassarian, T. Davis, students, including Michael Mahoney, Elise Mitchell, and advisor Leslie Revilock.
Over the summer of 2015 two students put together a presentation on the tenets of compassion to show to other organizations on campus. It has an interactive discussion component that enables organizations to examine how compassion is used within their group and also what barriers get in the way of compassionate action. Groups can ask the CAB to give the presentation and lead a discussion.
After three years of laying the groundwork, the Compassionate Action Board achieved its goal of William & Mary becoming a signatory of the Charter for Compassion. On April 19, 2016 President Reveley signed the Charter for Compassionate Schools, joining communities around the world and leading universities in the United States. We now continue our journey to recognize, affirm and cultivate compassion as a core value of the university.