University of Louisville Athletics has been active with a series of sustained initiatives that focuses on diversity, inclusion, social responsibility and ending systemic racism.
In recent months, the department has dedicated time each week to listen and learn with student-athletes and staff members while identifying personal action steps to continue to expand initiatives to enhance a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion that is focused on making sustainable changes to our community, state and nation.
“Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion are highlighted in our departmental goals and values statements,” said Vince Tyra, UofL’s director of Athletics. “We are creating change.”
The 2020-21 academic year affords the department a unique opportunity surrounding the social unrest nationally and within the city to institute change with the valued input and guidance from student-athletes, coaches and staff.
The department has participated in multiple sessions facilitated by staff members and student-athletes, as well as campus and community partners, to educate and support the needs of the department. Those sessions led to the creation of the Cardinals S.O.A.R. (Strategically Organizing Against Racism) Committee.
The committee will provide educational opportunities and resources to enhance knowledge and empower action; create brave and safe spaces to build and sustain a supportive anti-racist community; and implement initiatives to assist and serve underrepresented and historically marginalized groups.
The 14-member committee is chaired by Kristia Worthy, Athletics’ director of Talent Development, and consists of members of various departments within the UofL athletic department.
“I’m looking forward to the continued progress of the Athletic Department,” Worthy said. “By focusing on strategic initiatives, student-athlete and staff engagement, community partnerships, and hiring and retention practices, we will create lasting change that shows our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice. This will require us to continue having courageous conversations, to embrace vulnerability, hold each other accountable, and develop our leadership skills that will equip us to make a difference.”
The athletic department will continue to listen and consider the ideas, thoughts, and opinions of its student-athletes, coaches, and staff to assist the Cardinals’ athletic department in creating and implementing a culture and action plan that further strengthens and expands the department’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives already in place.
While SOAR is a recent initiative, the Cardinals have long been committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Two years ago in establishing its departmental five-year goals and core beliefs that drive the Cardinals’ daily actions, UofL Athletics included “we have made an intentional effort to foster the improvement of diversity, equity and inclusion within the department” among its top five goals.
Within the athletic department’s core beliefs is “We Win Together – We celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion as essential cornerstones of a successful team. Through trust and respect, we value each other’s ideas, background and contributions that drive organizational success for our athletics department and university.”
In addition, senior athletics leadership are working closely on President Neeli Bendapudi’s university-wide Cardinal Anti-Racist Agenda workgroups, involving students, faculty, staff and administrators.
Marvin Mitchell, UofL’s senior associate athletic director of Student Services and Diversity, is an active member of the ACC’s Committee for Racial and Social Justice. Operating under the moniker of “CORE” – Champions of Racial Equity – the committee’s vision is to lead in college athletics by promoting and instilling racial and social justice, and equity for all.
A list of some initiatives the UofL Athletic Department has already accomplished as part of this initiative is available here.