Call to Action

Students, Faculty and Staff:

Incidents and protests related to race continue to bring to the forefront concerns about race and social justice in the United States and beyond.  As a university committed to social justice, it is important that we discuss these issues and how we can move forward. To this end, our plan is to engage the campus community in difficult conversations beginning with race and social justice.  These will be facilitated discussions that will lead to various outcomes, including the development of a resource toolkit that will include effective strategies to address and improve racial situations.

Since the fall semester began, I have met with representatives from various constituencies including the chairs of the Faculty, Staff and Student senates; CODRE and its Campus Environment Team; chairs of the Unit Diversity Committees; and directors and representatives from Residence Life, UofL Police, the Southern Police Institute, and multicultural student organizations.

Based on the input, we plan to do the following:

In October, we will initiate a video campaign entitled Our Voices to hear various perspectives on race from students, faculty and staff.  The video will be posted on the Diversity website.  In addition, a call will go out to the campus community asking for volunteers interested in serving as facilitators.  Twenty to 30 facilitators will be appointed based on selection criteria.  Those interested in serving as a group facilitator for any conversation may contact Marian Vasser, director of diversity education and inclusive excellence, at (502) 852-2252 or marian.vasser@louisville.edu for additional information regarding training.

Dr. Frances Kendall, a national scholar and speaker, will visit UofL October 27 -28.  She will help roll out the campus conversations and train the facilitators.  One of Dr. Kendall’s recent training institutes was on “Preparing our Own Table to Facilitate Authentic Conversations about and Across Race.”  We will follow the event with smaller campus conversations that will continue into the spring semester. 

We will set a schedule for these conversations, which we will share with all of you. We also will set concrete goals that we plan to achieve.  Everyone will have an opportunity to help develop a resource kit for dealing with racial issues, support systems for having difficult discussions and/or recommended curriculum changes to enhance our ability to recognize and address issues as they come up.

Difficult Dialogues will continue, and future campus conversations will focus on social justice issues as they pertain to religion, LGBTQ, gender, disability issues and others. On the Diversity website (www.louisville.edu/diversity), please read the concept for Difficult Dialogues written by Dr. David McIntosh, associate dean and chief diversity officer for the School of Medicine.

I look forward to sharing more information in the near future and receiving your feedback on our plans.  The University of Louisville has a history of and reputation for leading in areas of social justice.  Together we can take on some of society’s toughest problems for the benefit of us all.

 

Sincerely,

Mordean Taylor-Archer, PhD
Vice Provost for Diversity and International Affairs