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New Center on Race, Leadership and Social Justice

Our St. Thomas convictions call us to protect and enhance human dignity, in community with each other, and to work for a more just and equitable society. One of the priorities set forth in the Action Plan to Combat Racism was a commitment to further academic excellence in the study of race and equity.

Today, I am pleased to announce the creation of the Center on Race, Leadership and Social Justice at the St. Thomas School of Law. Under the leadership of Dr. Artika Tyner, the center will train our law students to be leaders in criminal justice reform, civil rights and human rights.  It will serve as a convener of thought leaders, scholars, and students, and foster a robust exchange of ideas and strategies for advancing the common good.

The center will provide law students the opportunity to leverage legal training to address social justice challenges. Students will interface with lawyers in the community who are fighting for justice and equity and gain in-depth insights related to civil rights, human rights law, and advocacy. It will also collaborate with our entire university and share its unique expertise on racial equity and social justice.

As so many of us know, Dr. Tyner, who currently serves as AVP for Diversity and Inclusion, is a passionate educator, author, sought after speaker, and advocate for justice, and she has served our campus in several capacities. I want to thank her personally for the many contributions she has made in her current role, and I am excited that St. Thomas is creating a new platform which can further leverage her talent.  As she develops and leads this new center, her vision is to train law students to serve as “social engineers who create new inroads to justice and freedom.” She is truly dedicated to instilling in St. Thomas students an obligation to advance the common good.

While creating the center will help us engage the community around us, we must at the same time dedicate resources to further our commitment to diversity and inclusion internally.  We will restructure the prior position of AVP for Diversity and Inclusion, which reported to the Vice President for Mission. The new position will report directly to me to implement our Action Plan to Combat Racism and further integrate inclusive excellence throughout our campus.  The Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence will tap into a broad expertise, energy and good will throughout the university to engage faculty, staff and students to build a more diverse, welcoming and inclusive community at St. Thomas. This new position will be posted immediately and a search committee of various stakeholders across the university has been created.

I am grateful for the energy that our campus community has shown in our collective work to implement the Action Plan. Please note that you can track our progress here.  This site is updated regularly. Please continue to share your feedback or ways you want to be involved with me or with Amy McDonough, Chief of Staff.