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Our actions can build a more inclusive University

Dr. Joseph Savoie -- Fri, 06/12/2020 - 3:45pm

Dear faculty, students, staff members, alumni and friends,

Our University has a long and deliberate history of diversity and inclusion.

But we have, as a nation and as an institution, reached a moment in which simply pointing to the past without pledging ourselves to improving the future is insufficient. This history would be hollow if we failed to reaffirm our commitment to racial equity and social justice through meaningful action.

The University’s Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence is that call to action. And it is time for every member of the campus community to answer the call.

The plan was crafted over the course of a year by the Office for Campus Diversity and the Diversity Advisory Council, a group of faculty, staff, students and community partners. It was approved in Fall 2019.

We are now implementing the plan and providing resources to ensure its success. The measurable actions it outlines can create true and lasting change in nearly every aspect of campus life. These include:

  • increasing the recruitment and retention of Black administrators, faculty, staff and students to better align the University’s demographics with that of our wider community;
  • offering interdisciplinary and co-curricular courses that improve cultural understanding and sensitivities, and providing increased support to faculty and student research in these areas; 
  • creating student organizations that encourage intercultural engagement and offer professional development opportunities;
  • enhancing student services to better meet the needs and ensure the success of underrepresented populations;
  • reviewing institutional policies, procedures and resources that support – or, in some cases, inhibit – diversity, inclusion and equity; and
  • engaging multicultural alumni and community partners through outreach activities.

I want to encourage you to read the plan, then I want you to help the University achieve the goals it outlines by offering your suggestions and critiques via this webform.

Let us hear your voices. Honest conversations create meaningful change. So does self-reflection. 

To erase racial, social and educational inequities that exist on our campus, we must hold ourselves, and each other, accountable. And we must be willing to say what we believe.

This University believes in #BlackLivesMatter.

We believe that no person should live in fear because of the color of their skin.

We believe that no one should die senselessly because of it, either.

We believe it is not enough to condemn racism, bigotry or hate – though we do.

We believe our rhetoric must be met with action.

In addition to the goals set forth in the Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence, we will act quickly to respond to any statements, behaviors or actions by current or prospective members of the University community that do not align with our institutional values of respect, kindness, cooperation and accountability.

We must live these principles, or else we will fail the moral obligation we have to future generations to leave the world better than how we found it.

We can leave them a more just and inclusive University. We can leave them a better world. But it’s going to take all of us to do so.

Let’s get to work.

Sincerely,

Dr. Joseph Savoie
President