Dear faculty, staff and students:
It has been nearly one month since we launched our Action Plan to Combat Racism and gathered for our campus wide anti-racism event. At that event, I stated that this moment must be a turning point at St. Thomas – when we significantly and sustainably increase our efforts to become a more diverse community that openly welcomes and respects the dignity of all. I committed to keeping this work at the forefront of our priorities and pledged to be accountable for its implementation.
On OneStThomas, you can now review the ongoing progress on our Action Plan commitments. This progress site will be updated continuously, and you can expect regular progress updates from me. I want to highlight a few of the initiatives here:
First, we have a new bias and hate incident reporting site. Incidents of hate and bias are inconsistent with our St. Thomas mission and convictions and have no place here. If you have experienced or witnessed a bias or hate incident, we want to address it and provide you with resources. This site will provide an easier and clearer way to report and to understand the ensuing process.
Second, I want to let you know that student leaders have been working with my staff to open an intercultural center next semester in Anderson Student Center. The center will be a space for students to gather, hold events and deepen understanding of one other.
Lastly, many members of our campus community – from faculty development to student affairs to admissions – are working as One University toward making our campus more inclusive. An example is the teach-in the College of Arts and Sciences is organizing on December 4. Also, just yesterday, faculty members who contributed to a book titled Teaching Race shared their research and experience with the community. These efforts will spur conversations in classrooms and elsewhere on campus.
While the progress site documents the new initiatives we are aware of, please keep in mind that this is a living and breathing plan, and more good ideas are welcome. Please share your feedback, additional activities underway, and ways you want to be involved with Amy McDonough, chief of staff.
As we continue this work, we all need to be willing to be part of difficult conversations. This work will require risk and at times will make us uncomfortable. While I realize that it is difficult, I am heartened by the energy and willingness of so many people to be engaged and make progress. Together we can bring out the best of St. Thomas and work toward fully living our convictions of dignity, diversity, personal attention and gratitude. I look forward to building this community with you.
Julie H. Sullivan, PhD