Dear students, faculty and staff members,
The American Educational Studies Association and more than 2,100 college, university and K-12 educators, scholars and organizations have designated today as a Day of Action. The goal is to urge schools, colleges and universities to declare their commitments to anti-racist curricula, policies and practices at their institutions.
In June, I told the University community that our commitment to building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment was absolute. On this Day of Action, I reaffirm that commitment. And I am again pledging that our words will be met with action and backed by appropriate resources.
The University’s Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence outlines steps we are taking – and those we intend to take – to create true and lasting change in nearly every aspect of campus life.
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 last fall.
The measurable goals it lists align with those motivating this Day of Action and include:
- increasing the recruitment and retention of Black administrators, faculty, staff and students to better reflect the University’s demographics and those 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; and
- reviewing institutional policies, procedures and resources that support – or, in some cases, inhibit – diversity, inclusion and equity.
I want to encourage you to read the plan and to help us reach the milestones it sets forth.
In the five months since my June message, the University has taken a number of steps and received several recognitions I’d like to share with you.
- Starting next year, Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 when enslaved Blacks in Texas learned of their freedom, will be a University holiday for students and employees.
- The University was chosen to join the Aspire Alliance's IChange Network, which will transform our faculty diversity and inclusion efforts, particularly in the hiring and retention of STEM faculty.
- This month’s issue of Insight Into Diversity magazine recognized the University as among the nation’s best for its programs, initiatives and efforts that promote equity and inclusion. This is the third consecutive year we have received the publication’s Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.
We are making progress, and that progress has won us praise – but we cannot rest on our laurels. Our journey is far from done.
By continuing to work together, we can demonstrate the power of diversity and inclusivity to move our community – and our University – toward a more socially just and equitable future.
That’s a commitment worth making, not only on this Day of Action, but for all the days to come.
Dr. Joseph Savoie